Parts of Saguaro National Park west of Tucson are having a banner year for spring wildflowers — and it’s still a week until the beginning of spring.
Carpets of gold poppies and large clumps of blue lupine are among the standouts.
“The lower elevations of the Tucson Mountain District are getting quite showy” with wildflowers, said Ray O’Neil, chief ranger at Saguaro Park.
Those colorful blooms are partly a result of regular and abundant rains in late winter.
“But we also wonder about the cold spell a few weeks ago,” O’Neil said. “The cold could limit blooms at slightly higher elevations.”
Take a drive or hike in the lower elevations and you’ll likely find some outstanding wildflower displays.
FIND SOME BLOOMS
One place to see lots of gold poppies and other wildflowers, including blue lupine and orange globemallow, is near Picture Rocks Road in the northeastern part of the park.
Get on Ina Road west of Interstate 10 and drive west to Wade Road. Turn south onto Wade and follow it as it turns into Picture Rocks Road and continues to the park. After entering the park, continue for about half a mile and watch for a large parking pullout on the right at the bottom of a hill.
Carefully cross the road from the parking pullout and find some expanses of poppies and other wildflowers in a mostly flat desert area south of the road.
Another option is to go to the park’s Red Hills Visitor Center, 2700 N. Kinney Road, and ask staff members there about trails and park drives where wildflowers are abundant.
They also could direct you to Hohokam Road on the western side of the park.
The road leads to trailheads for the Hugh Norris Trail and the Valley View Overlook Trail, routes that have had good wildflower displays in some previous years.