Wildflowers – Where to See in the Tucson Area

Tohono Chul Park:
http://www.tohonochulpark.org

Tucson Botanical Gardens:
http://www.tucsonbotanical.org/

Arizona State Route 86 on the Tohono O'odham Reservation west of Tucson has brilliant gold poppies, white flowers of the desert evening primrose and other species, making this a colorful drive, especially early in the wildflower season, from mid-February to mid-March.

King Canyon in the Tucson Mountains west of Tucson:
A short walk on the King Canyon trail is a good way to get a look at some of our wildflower "stars" such as poppies and lupines, and also to see lesser-known species including the white, lavender-streaked blossoms of the Arizona twist flower. Flowers should be at their best in March. To get to King Canyon, drive over Gate Pass west of Tucson, turn right (northwest) on Kinney Road and follow Kinney Road to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  The trailhead is across the road from the museum.

Mount Lemmon Highway (also known as Catalina Highway) northeast of Tucson in the Catalina Mountains:
Driving up to the lower reaches of the highway will take you to canyons and hillsides with a wide range of species. For a wildflower walk, consider a stop at the Babad Do'ag overlook at the 2.6 mile point on the highway. The 2.1 mile Babad Do'ag Trail, which begins across the highway from the overlook, often leads to plentiful blossoms in March. (Note: There is usually a fee to drive this highway.) The following canyons of the Catalina Mountains have wild flowers: Sabino, Esperero, Ventana, Finger Rock and Pima. Even during average years there are wildflowers here.

The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix has a state-wide wildflower Internet site for Arizona:

https://www.dbg.org/wildflower-tracking-site

How much rain do wildflowers need and when:
Wildflowers need 3 to 6 inches of rain. In Tucson, the rain needs to fall from late September through early December. If the area has 10 inches of rain during these months, Tucson will have a spectacular wildflower display in the spring.

Sources:

"Spring flowers need fall showers." Arizona Daily Star. October 19, 2006. Page 1.
“Wildflowers could be great thanks to our 2+ inches of rain.” Arizona Daily Star. February 3, 2010. Page 1.


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