Where To See Arizona Desert Wildflowers

Finding Desert Wildflowers in the Greater Phoenix Area

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On the DBG Wildflower Trail at Sunset. © Judy Hedding

Each spring, typically in the latter part of March and in early April, locals and visitors alike ooh and ah at the transformation of our desert into blankets of colorful flowers. Some years disappoint, but if the combination of winter rains and warm spring temperatures is just right, we are rewarded with blooms of many wildflower varieties. I can't tell you in advance if it will happen, and if it does, I can't tell you when the blooms will peak. The magic is in the exploration and discovery!

Desert Botanical Garden

In Central Phoenix you'll find one of our most beloved treasures. A Phoenix Point of Pride, the Desert Botanical Garden has programs, and seminars and musical performances and holiday events. Above all, it is a garden where you can enjoy, in a relatively condensed area, the beauty of desert plants. Many of the plants have extraordinary flowers at various times of the year, but in those years when wildflowers are prominent a visit to the self-guided Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail will afford visitors a chance to see a special show of variety and color.

The two-acre Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail opened in March 2001. Dedicated to the appreciation of desert wildflowers and their pollinators, the trail is a permanent memorial to Mrs. Maxwell’s interest in wildflowers, and to the generosity of her foundation that has provided funding for several projects at the garden. There is a fee to visit the garden.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

You might not know that this place, located in the southeast part of the Valley of the Sun in Superior, Arizona, is actually a state park managed by Arizona State University. It is a little "scruffier" than the Desert Botanical Garden -- more natural, some would say -- and offers a variety of programs that are free with paid admission to the park. That includes guided tours during wildflower season.

Guided Hikes in Arizona's State and County Parks

Many people would love to get out of a designated garden and hit one of hundreds of local trails in search of wildflowers. After all, aren't wildflowers more fun when they are in the wild, and not grown in captivity?! For some, though, the prospect of navigating to trailheads in unfamiliar territory is an unsettling option. Arizona State Parks and Maricopa County parks have solutions. They offer guided walks of various lengths. Some are easy, suitable for novice and young hikers, and some hikes are longer with greater challenges.

The hikes are almost always free, as long as you pay the park admission charge, usually a flat fee per vehicle upon entering the park.

The closest state park to the Phoenix area offering guided desert wildflower hikes in our deserts and mountains is Lost Dutchman State Park.