Arizona Desert in Bloom

Celebrating Centennial: Travel Photo Thursday


AZ desert wildflowers with Kitt Peak Telescope in distance
AZ desert wildflowers

I love to confound people by describing the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona as “lush”.  They give me an odd look. Isn’t that an oxymoron? Not here it isn’t . The Sonoran Desert fits the description of Desert because of its aridity, but on the other hand, a multitude of fascinating plants, like the mesquite trees prominent in this picture, various grasses and shrubs, and cacti of amazing designs crowd the desert. Barren sandy patches are a rarity here. Even on that mountainside that looks bare in this picture, when you get closer, you will see many plants and critters.

But I”ll bet you didn’t notice anything but the flowers, right?  Those are California Poppies, and we took this picture in a particularly good spring blooming year.  When Arizona gets heavy rains in December, desert flowers pop in March and April.  And we DID get good rains in December 2011, so you can start booking travel for this spring.  To track where to see the wildflowers and when, check the Tohono Chul Park website or Desert USA  (I have read that the desert poppies have already been blooming around Tucson, so come in March for best flowers.) And you can find plenty of books to help you identify wildflowers, but here’s an online flower i.d. site.

This picture was taken just off the Ajo highway on the To’hono O’odham Reservation south of Tucson–thus introducing you to another interesting part of Southwern Arizona. The To’hono O’odham, The Desert People, of course have lived here longer than anyone else. But this week we celebrate the birthday of the state of Arizona just 100 years ago.  Spanish explorers first wandered into what is now Arizona in the 17th century, followed closely by missionaries. The most famous was Father Kino, who established a chain of missions, gathering The Desert People into his religion. The Spanish soldiers built presidios, and the presidio called Tucson was established in 1776.

Finally, did you notice the big white “silo” on top of that mountain?  That’s one of the seven telescopes on top of Kitt Peak, a prime tourist attraction of Southern Arizona, and a symbol of the growing optics industry in our part of the state.  Kitt Peak makes a fascinating visit to see a gigantic solar telescope and others. Don’t miss their delightful gift shop.

So there you have it–some of the variety that makes up Southern Arizona, a blooming desert, mountains, the astronomy industry, and an Indian nation.

This photo is my contribution to Travel Photo Thursday. To see other photos from travel writers around the world–to to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox. (And today she has a luscious photo of the Alcazar in Granada Spain).

This photo belongs to ME. PLEASE do not reproduce without my permission. Thanks.



About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She writes frequently for Reel Life With Jane and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

14 thoughts on “Arizona Desert in Bloom

  1. I’d be interested to see what kind of insects take advantage of desert flowers. Are there all kinds of native bees and parasitic wasps or are there other kinds of insects on the poppies?

  2. How pretty! We’ve gotten the same odd looks when we tell people we like going to Anza Borrego in Southern CA every Spring to admire the desert flowers in bloom.

  3. A dozen years ago we were lucky enough to be in Death Valley in February when the best desert wildflower display in 25 years took place.

    I’ve been to Ajo and Kitt Peak. Too very interesting places to visit.

    1. I think Ajo is one of the hidden gems of Arizona. And the desert around it is gorgeous. We spent several days trying to find an Ajo lily one year for a story I was writing. (For those of you who do not speak Spanish–Ajo means garlic. And supposedly the roots of the spring wildflower with that name tastes like–well, at least like an onion.

  4. absolutely beautiful!!!!!!! By the way, thank you for featuring the book Elsie- I have already downloaded it onto my Kindle app on my Ipad and am enjoying it immensely!! Also, Barbara introduced herself to me and I am so happy to ‘meet’ her and get to know her tidbits blog entries.

Comments are closed.