Anyone who has not spent much time in the desert may picture it as a sort of plantless and lifeless place. However, in most deserts, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While cactuses and some low-growing trees often thrive year round, the springtime is when the desert really comes to life. Every spring, wildflowers bloom on a variety of plants in the desert. These flowers can bloom in a variety of colors and sizes.
Depending on the volume of rain seen over the winter, there may even be a superbloom. A superbloom is a rare phenomenon where the desert experiences “a disproportionately high level of wildflower growth, where many of the flowers bloom at the same time. The result is vast fields of densely growing wildflowers, which is truly a sight to behold. However, even in years where the desert does not yield a superbloom, one can expect to see wildflowers growing. If you have an RV, this can be a great time to take it out to enjoy the spring blooms and see the wildflowers for yourself. Follow along for a list of the some the best places to see desert wildflowers in the springtime.
1. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is located in Southern California, about two hours east of San Diego. This park stretches across both the Colorado Desert and the Sonoran Desert. It provides a home to many species of wildlife and a wide variety of flora and fauna. In the spring, the number of wildflowers here can vary. This depends on the amount of rain seen over the course of the winter season. However, park visitors can expect to see several types between March and May. These include fairy dusters, Indian mallows, beavertails, desert marigolds, canterbury bells, apricot mallows, firecracker ocotillos, claret cup cactuses, and more.
In 2017, the bloom was so great that it could be seen from space. No matter how full the bloom is on any given year, visitors can still expect to see beautiful colors in the springtime. There are several free camping areas as well as a paid campground, giving RVers a variety if sites to choose from.
2. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
Located about an hour and a half north of Los Angeles, Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is a favorite wildflower viewing area for people all over America. Each spring, the entire reserve comes alive with fields of some of the most stunning arrangements of fiddlenecks, red maids, forget-me-nots, and, of course, poppies. The reserve has about eight miles of hiking trails available, and there is a .7-mile long ADA-compliant trail, as well. The bloom generally begins in early March and lasts through mid-May. To preserve the reserve’s beauty, visitors are prohibited from walking amongst the fields of wildflowers or picking them. However, they are more than welcome to snap as many photos as they would like!
3. Saguaro National Park
Just outside of Tucson, Arizona, you can find Saguaro National Park, which is appropriately dedicated to its namesake, the saguaro cactus. These striking __ are native to Arizona and are iconic to the American southwest. The saguaros themselves produce one of the most gorgeous blooms, typically seen in early May. However, many species of cactuses and other desert plants flower between March and June, and these can be seen and enjoyed all throughout the park. Those visiting in their RV can find many campgrounds and a couple of BLM designated campsites outside of the national park and in Tucson.
4. Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
As one of Arizona’s largest and oldest botanical gardens, this arboretum is home to over 500 species of plants. For almost 100 years, this state park has operated on nearly 400 acres of Sonoran Desert beauty. For a small admission fee, it is open to the public for enjoyment and features a variety of greenhouses and gardens. There is also a 1.5 mile trail through the center of the garden areas. In the spring, many species of plants bloom, and the result is quite lovely. Located southeast of Phoenix, there are a variety of campsites and public land camping options for RVers.
5. Picacho Peak State Park
About halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona visitors can find the beautiful Picacho Peak State Park. Picacho Peak sits about 1500 feet above the desert valley floor. The hike to the top is both strenuous and iconic. Each spring, a variety of wildflowers bloom, perfectly juxtaposing themselves in an array of bright colors against the standard greens and browns of the desert. This state park has an excellent RV campground, and there are also a variety of boondocking options located outside the park.
6. Red Rock State Park
Located outside of the beautiful city of Sedona, Arizona, Red Rock State Park has so much to do. Ranging from hiking to water activities to a variety of wildlife viewing opportunities, this state park has something for everyone to enjoy. Because Sedona is so hot in the summer and fairly cold in the winter, spring is one of the best times to visit. Between May and June, the wildflowers here hit their peak, and the colors here are truly spectacular. There are several areas for public lands camping outside of Sedona, as well as a campground in Sedona and a few options to choose from in Cottonwood, Arizona.
Seeing the wildflowers bloom in the desert is a bucket list item for many RVers. Enjoying the beauty of springtime from your own RV is a dream trip, and these six places make for excellent travel destinations. For a trip you will never forget, consider a wildflower tour next spring.
Have you seen a desert wildflower bloom? Where did you see it, and how was your experience? Feel free to share it with us in the comments!
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