The colorful spectacle of pre-spring wildflowers greets hikers this week along desert and canyon trails around Tucson, including the Ventana Canyon Trail north of the city.
Species flashing brilliant blooms in Ventana Canyon include pink penstemon, orange-red globemallow, yellow brittlebush, white fleabane and purple-blue verbena among others.
Brittlebush are especially plentiful, standing out with big bright blooms on hillsides and along the trail.
A trickle of runoff from snow and rain in the Catalina Mountains provides a late-winter counterpoint to the often-dry desert terrain of Ventana Canyon and other canyons in the front range of the Catalinas.
The trailhead and parking area for the Ventana Canyon Trail are at the back end of an employee parking lot at Loews Ventana Canyon resort, 7000 N. Resort Drive.
Another good place to find wildflowers in bloom is Sabino Canyon, 5700 N. Sabino Canyon Road.