Arizona Wildflowers Guide: The Best Places to See Wildflowers in Arizona

A Guide to Arizona Wildflowers

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The American Southwest is experiencing a "super bloom" this year thanks to a wet winter. Look for an abundance of blossoms as Arizona wildflowers in orange, purple, red, and yellow cover the desert floor like a blanket and accent mountainsides. 

I hate winter in the Midwest. I hate the cold. I hate being cold. And once the initial excitement of the first snow of the season has come and gone, I’m already counting the seconds until spring. And while I’m lucky to be able to occasionally thaw out at my sister’s house in Phoenix, I often miss the trees, grass, and other greenery that surround me at home in Kansas City.

Unless it’s spring.

There are few sights more breathtaking than the desert in spring. Majestic saguaro cacti and other prickly plants stand tall under a cerulean sky dotted with puffy, white clouds. At their feet is a cornucopia of colorful wildflowers.

To share the beauty of the desert in bloom with you, I’ve created this guide to Arizona wildflowers. It is designed to help you identify the most common flowers in Arizona blooming from Flagstaff to Tucson and every hillside and trail in between.

    

Here are some of the best places to view Arizona wildflowers:

  • Boyce Thompson Arboretum – Located about an hour east of Phoenix in Superior, Boyce Thompson is the oldest botanical garden in Arizona and one of the largest botanical gardens west of the Mississippi River.
  • Peridot Mesa – Because the Peridot Mesa is located on the San Carlos Indian Reservation, a permit must be purchased to travel to the prime viewing location to see Arizona wildflowers. You can still see acres and acres of wildflowers simply by driving along US Highway 70 between Roper Lake and Superior, Arizona.
  • Saguaro National Park. In Tucson, this national park is full of majestic saguaro cacti surrounded by colorful wildflowers.
  • San Tan Mountain Regional Park. This regional park is just south of the Phoenix suburb of Queen Creek. Use this map to assess the length and difficulty of each trail so you know before you go searching for the beautiful wildflowers of Arizona.
  • Tonto National Forest. At 2.8 million acres, this is the fifth largest national forest in the US stretching from the Lost Dutchman State Park in the south to Flagstaff and beyond. This area of the Grand Canyon State offers amazing mountain views trimmed with ribbons of wildflowers.

Pro Tip:  In addition to hiking Arizona in search of wildflowers, consider exploring these Arizona slot canyons. These narrow canyons formed in rock feature beautifully colored walls that twist and turn and are every bit as captivating as Arizona wildflowers.

Orange Arizona Wildflowers

Globemallow

Globemallow is a common wildflower in Arizona

As we hiked several trails at the destinations listed above, my sister and I thought these orange wildflowers were related to sage or oregano. After all, they grow in clusters that reach about three feet tall and the small orange blossoms of these wildflowers are surrounded by green leaves that look like those herbs. But, we were wrong. Globemallows typically thrive after a forest fire and provide food and shelter to animals like the desert tortoise.

Related Article:  Why Forest Fires (Although Terrifying) Are Actually Good for the Environment

Poppies 

Another common wildflower in Arizona is the poppy

Ranging in color from lemon yellow to butterscotch orange, golden poppies are the state flower of California. Sure, you can travel to the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles to see acres upon acres of these beauties in bloom, but why fight the crowds when you can have these beautiful orange wildflowers all to yourself in Arizona?

Purple Arizona Wildflowers

Lupine

Lupine is a common purple wildflower in Arizona

In one variety or another, lupines are widely distributed around the world from North America to South America and from North Africa to the Mediterranean countries of Europe. In the desert of the Southwest, you can see their flowery purple stalks nearly everywhere since they are one of the three most common wildflowers of Arizona.

Phlox

Look for phlox, a common Arizona wildflower, when hiking in the spring.

Like many Arizona wildflowers, phlox blossoms can vary in color. Look for a grouping of five petals ranging from snow white to bubblegum pink.  

Pro Tip:  Native to the American Southwest, watch for phlox from Arizona to Utah and from San Diego to San Antonio.

Red Arizona Wildflowers

Chuparosa

Chuparosa is also known as

The chuparosa’s long, slender crimson flowers make it easy to identify against a background of desert hues. Hummingbirds love the sweet nectar at the center of its blooms giving this red wildflower the nickname “hummingbird bush.”

Hummingbirds love chuparosa’s long, slender crimson flowers

Yellow Arizona Wildflowers

Bladderpod

Bladderpod is a yellow wildflower found in the American southwest

While bladderpods can be found in several colors, the most common shade blooming in Arizona right now is a bright, sunny yellow. Look for these yellow flowers blanketing the desert floor as if Mother Nature spilled a ton of lemon jelly beans on her desert-themed living room floor.

Brittlebush

It's easy to see how the brittlebush is related to the sunflower

A member of the sunflower family, brittlebush is a dainty desert cousin to the state flower of my home state. And, you don’t need a PhD in botany or a DNA kit to see the resemblance. To identify these yellow wildflowers in Arizona, look for petite scallop-edged petals with a cluster of small round seed-like pods in the center.

Brittlebush is a yellow wildflower related to sunflowers

Evening Primrose

Evening primrose is a nocturnal wildflower

As suggested by its name, these yellow Arizona wildflowers are as nocturnal as a vampire, but without the fangs. Evening primrose’s daffodil-colored petals open in the evening and close the following morning.

Poppies 

It’s hard to step outside and not see poppies blooming in Arizona. I didn’t see any red poppies (which are quite common in California), but red and yellow poppies are literally everywhere in the 48th state.

What Arizona Wildflowers Have You Seen This Year?

What are your favorite Arizona wildflowers? Which was more plentiful when you visited — orange wildflowers, purple wildflowers, yellow wildflowers, or red wildflowers? Where do you like to search for wildflowers in Arizona? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best places to see wildflowers in Arizona from Phoenix Arizona to Tucson Arizona. Arizona wildflowers come in a variety of colors including orange, red, and yellow. Watch for wildflowers on Arizona hiking trails and during other Arizona hikes. Look for wildflowers during the superbloom on Arizona travel road trips or other Arizona travel during your Arizona vacation. #phoenix #tucson #arizona #scottsdale #us #usa #ustravel
Best places to see wildflowers in Arizona from Phoenix Arizona to Tucson Arizona. Arizona wildflowers come in a variety of colors including orange, red, and yellow. Watch for wildflowers on Arizona hiking trails and during other Arizona hikes. Look for wildflowers during the superbloom on Arizona travel road trips or other Arizona travel during your Arizona vacation. #phoenix #tucson #arizona #scottsdale #us #usa #ustravel
Best places to see wildflowers in Arizona from Phoenix Arizona to Tucson Arizona. Arizona wildflowers come in a variety of colors including orange, red, and yellow. Watch for wildflowers on Arizona hiking trails and during other Arizona hikes. Look for wildflowers during the superbloom on Arizona travel road trips or other Arizona travel during your Arizona vacation. #phoenix #tucson #arizona #scottsdale #us #usa #ustravel

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29 thoughts on “Arizona Wildflowers Guide: The Best Places to See Wildflowers in Arizona”

  1. Empty Nesters Hit The Road

    I won’t make it to Arizona this year for wildflowers, but I hope to see them in Southern California. Love all your photos–so beautiful!

  2. This is such a happy, colourful article. Thanks for the smiles. My dad lives in Arizona, but somehow I don’t recall wildflowers. I guess I visit at the wrong time. BTW – that photos of the hummingbird is really impressive.

    1. I’ve never visited Arizona, but just love these wildflowers. The colours are so vibrant. I imagine it was extra special seeing them after the ‘super-bloom’. Love the photos, they’ve inspired me to put this on my list!

  3. Beautiful flowers. I know about Hill Country in TX, but didn’t know that Arizona has such wonderful spring flowers. I spent 3 weeks on a road trip in AZ but it was winter. I love the photo with the hummingbird.

    1. Most of these photos were taken in and around the greater Phoenix area. We’ve also hiked in Tucson over the years, but I’m pretty sure these were from further north. It helped that there was a superbloom. It was hard to take a bad shot!

  4. Beautiful photographs! I’ve yet to visit Arizona but sounds like spring would be the perfect time to go to witness the beauty of the desert in super bloom. Those vibrant wildflowers add such a splash of color on the desert landscape. Great to learn about the best places to view these wildflowers and thanks for the information regarding the permit requirement for Peridot Mesa.

  5. All of these are beautiful and it’s awesome that you included all the names too. I love visiting flower fields or even just looking at random blooms I find along my travels, but often times I don’t know their names 🙁 I’m also planning to map my 2020 travels around flowers around the world so Arizona will definitely be on my list now thanks to you!

  6. I had no idea that there were so many kinds of wildflowers! This is such a great topic to pick and I know just the person to share this information with. Your pictures are lovely too. I love the first one.

  7. The Holidaymaker | Renee

    It is far too often that when we are out and surrounded by such majestic landscapes we don’t pay attention to the finer details, and in this case, the wildflowers. How pretty to capture each one and their name. I especially like the poppies. But wildflowers clumped together with the various colours is what really makes them special.

  8. We were in Arizona in October. And I must admit I was amazed at how green it was. And how many flowers we did see. But we were certainly sorry we missed the super bloom. I am sorry we did not see poppies. So beautiful!

    1. While I love the weather in Arizona, I miss the lush green scenery I have at home. And that’s why there’s nothing more amazing than the desert in bloom in the spring!

  9. Arizona is beautiful anytime of the year. It is in the eye of the beholder. But wildflowers do bring a special splash of color. Being from California now, if the only place you are looking for California poppies is in Antelope Valley, you are completely missing amazing displays that don’t pack in the crowds — Anza Borrego desert for one or up in Northern California near Table Mountain. I especially love it when the cactus bloom in Arizona. That to me is magic!

    1. I agree that there is nothing more breathtakingly beautiful than the desert in bloom! (And thanks for the additional recommendations on where to see poppies in California!)

  10. We were away this year for the massive bloom in California, but like in Arizona, the photos are simply stunning! Indeed, we love our California poppies, they have a way to brighten your day! It’s interesting (though totally makes sense) how the wildflower season varies depending on the state. We hiked Glacier NP one year in July and were surprised to still see local wildflowers boomng!

  11. What a colorful article! I love flowers – as long as they are not in my apartment. Wildflowers in particular are simply beautiful. Unfortunately, I just have no idea what their names are.

  12. staceydavis550

    Such great pictures. I never really thought of Arizona as being pretty, but you changed my mind. You should do an article on Kansas Wildflowers and Native Plants. There are a number of great native prairies nearby. Have you done the prairie paths near Manhattan KS / Kansas State University?

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