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Wondering where to go to see wildflowers in the Sonoran Desert? We’ve got you covered.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of locations, just some friendly suggestions of places to visit where spectacular wildflower blooms tend to happen!

While you may be able to enjoy wildflowers from the roadside, finding the truly impressive displays usually requires some degree of hiking. Enjoy!

Related: Field Guide to Arizona’s Sonoran Desert Wildflowers

Lost Dutchman State Park – Superstition Mountains

lost dutchman wildflowers

The Superstition Mountains make a dramatic backdrop for Lost Dutchman’s wildflower displays. Photo credit: Geoff Livingston

This is a stunning landscape to visit any time of year!  At the footsteps of the Superstition Mountains, there are tons of trails that lead from the park into the nearby Tonto National Forest.  If you hike far enough up the Siphon Draw Trail you will enter the Superstition Wilderness, and can climb all the way up to the top of the mountain to an elevation of over 5,000 feet!

In the spring, there can be all kinds of blooms out here.  It’s often a hot spot for Brittlebush also a common place to see fields of Mexican Gold Poppies and Lupines during wet years, among others.  Highly recommended!

Picacho Peak State Park

picacho peak poppies

Mexican gold poppies out in full-force at Picacho Peak. Photo credit: Robert Shea

Along the busy but empty stretch of Interstate 10 between Casa Grande and Tucson sits Picacho Peak, a jagged desert mountain that rises abruptly from the desert floor.

Picacho is another great destination regardless of wildflowers, the king attraction being a tough dayhike to the Picacho Peak summit. Oh yeah, it’s also home to an old Civil War battlefield.  In spring, it is yet another famous location for spotting the coveted but elusive Mexican Gold Poppy.

Catalina State Park

catalina state park saguaro flowers

Saguaro cactus sprout blooms high up on their stems and arms at Catalina State Park. Photo credit: Max Richard

We’re on a roll with the State Parks — well, we’ve got some nice ones here in Arizona!  This one is just a stone’s throw from Tucson, at the base of the towering Santa Catalina Mountains.

You’re about to have deja vu, because I’m here to tell you that Catalina is beautiful whenever you decide to go.  It’s got dramatic scenery, great hiking for beginners and experts alike, plus an almost guaranteed wildflower bonanza every spring. Another potential Poppy hot spot.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

brittlebush mcdowell mountains arizona

Brittlebush blooming among the cacti on the rocky slopes of the McDowells. Photo credit: Jake Case

While the State Parks require a fee, here’s a free-bee.  Owned by the City of Scottsdale, this nature preserve has a few hundred miles of hiking trails that cross the foothills and mountaintops of the McDowell Mountains.  The Brittlebush are probably the best bet for field-covering displays, but there’s definitely variety here with occasional Poppies and all your favorite cactus.

There are many trailheads at which you may access the park, with the Gateway Trailhead being the most popular.  Also consider Lost Dog Wash to the south or Tom’s Thumb to the north.  The hike to Tom’s Thumb is a beast, but is worth it even if the flowers aren’t out.  Lost Dog Wash is perfect for those wanting a mellow experience.

Bartlett Lake

bartlett lake wildflowers

Sunset over Bartlett Lake as Brittlebush mingle with cholla cactus on the hillsides. Photo credit: Jake Case

A favorite of local photographers willing to walk the trail-less slopes in search of blooms.  Although the lake itself, nestled among the desert mountains, is very nice, it’s the hillsides above the lake that bear the wildflowers. Once you park along the roadside, you’re on your own so make sure to take care not to get lost or take a tumble down a steep slope.

The location info below lists the address for the marina on the lake, which will help you reach the area via GPS, but it’s up to you to find your way to the wildflower fields!

  • Location: 20808 E Bartlett Dam Rd, Rio Verde, AZ 85263

Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

evening primrose and mexican gold poppies blooming

Evening primrose and Mexican gold poppies in the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. Photo credit: Jake Case

A local favorite of mine, the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve is mere minutes from my house!  It doesn’t have the consistently amazing displays that seem to pop up seemingly every year at other locations, but hit it after a wet winter and you might find fields of poppies, lupine, and scorpionweed!

Other Arizona Wildflower Locations

There is a near unlimited number of places to view wildflowers in the Sonoran Desert.  Once the weather turns scorching hot for the summer, the Arizona high country is full of forests with their own wildflower displays as well. Go out and explore a nearby mountain park and see what you can find.  Wildflowers also grow along the washes behind the neighborhoods and along the city canals.  Get creative and find your own wildflower wonderland!

Also consider going to a local botanical garden or arboretum, where the controlled environment and irrigation may allow you to see the desert flowers outside of their normal season or during dry years.  A few such places are listed below:

Desert Botanical Garden – 1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008

Boyce Thompson Arboretum – 37615 US-60, Superior, AZ 85273

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – 2021 N Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743

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Jake Case

Jake is a naturalist, writer, and landscape photographer from Arizona. A geographer by education, he’s worked as a park ranger with the National Park Service, a tour guide at the Grand Canyon South Rim, and a docent at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. Jake has seriously practiced landscape photography since 2009. You can learn more about Jake on the About page.

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