Top Ten Wildflower-Viewing Spots

Blooming Hedgehog Cactus in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona
A blooming Hedgehog Cactus in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, another Arizona wildflower hotspot (Joe Sohm/VisionsofAmerica/Getty)

8. Arizona
The normally monochromatic deserts in the west turn into a riot of color when the temperature rises. Prickly cactus sprout shocking pink blooms, and high desert prairies are filled with orange poppies and violet-blue lupin. When conditions are ideal, the profusion of desert wildflowers can be a spectacular sight.

The saguaro cactus grows naturally only in the Sonoran Desert, and there are about 1.6 million individual saguaro plants in Arizona's Saguaro National Park. Comprised of two districts, both near Tucson, there are scenic loop drives, with easy hiking trails along the way, making for both in-car and on-foot wildflower viewing. While there are plenty of wildflowers covering the ground between the various cactuses, the cactus flowers are definitely the stars. In the spring, hedgehog cactus sport large flashy magenta blooms, barrel cactus are topped with a flash of reddish-orange, and the long branches of the ocotillo are covered in bright red flowers. The park's namesake produces Arizona's state flower, a waxy white bloom that shows up on the arms of the saguaro in May.

Check out more photos of Saguaro National Park.

Published: 21 Mar 2009 | Last Updated: 8 May 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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