Wildflowers may be fickle about making appearances, but in most years the following parks are top contenders for sightings. Before you go, check the park's website or dedicated hotline for current conditions, which change day to day. For up-to-the-minute bloom reports submitted by aficionados, visit desertusa.com.
Catalina State Park
Higher elevations and snowmelt from the Santa Catalina Mountains bring cooler temps and a slightly later wildflower season to this park 17 miles north of Tucson. In late March and early April, look for a riot of purple lupines and golden Mexican poppies along Sutherland Trail.
Lost Dutchman State Park
An hour east of Phoenix, the Superstition Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for orange globe mallows, red chuparosas, and yellow brittlebushes. These and other species are often spotted along Jacob's Crosscut Trail, mid-February to late March. In April and May, the park's giant saguaros unfurl their white bouquets at dusk.
Picacho Peak State Park
In the Sonoran Desert 40 miles northwest of Tucson, Picacho Peak rises 1,500 feet above spring swaths of desert marigolds, pink penstemons, and white desert chicory. Calloway Trail is a good bet for flowers from February to April.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro lures botanists to Tucson with pink fairy dusters, violet-blue lupines, yellow brittle bushes, and other blooms during its flowering peak in mid- to late March. Hike Gould Mine Trail to catch strawberry hedgehogs, teddy bear chollas, and other flowering succulents in early April.