Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area - Wildflower Update
2013 Update
Blooms Visible May 27

Driving along State Route 159, an observant visitor can still view wildflowers. The red flowers of the Wild Rhubarb, yellow flowers of the Paperflower, and yellow flowers that form a ring around the top of the California barrel cactus add roadside color to the view of the Sandstone Mountains. Also, lining the road is Palmer’s Phacelia, Spider Milkweed and Thurbers Dyssoda adding their colorful hues to the landscape.  As temperatures rise, the desert wildflowers are quickly fading into the summer sun.

 Wild Rhubarb by Jim CribbsPalmer’s Phacelia by Jim Cribbs 
 Wild RhubarbPalmer’s
Spider Milkweed by Jim CribbsThurbers Dyssoda by Jim CribbsCalifornia Barrel Cactus by Jim CribbsPaperflower by Jim Cribbs 
Spider MilkweedThurbers
California Barrel

Blooms Visible May 24

Sandstone Quarry is a colorful place even without flowers.  The red and cream colored sandstone combined with its historical story make this a great place to visit.   But when you add Firecracker Penstemon,  Paperbag Bush and Slender Wire Lettuce adding their cheerful colors to the scenery, then you have a pallet of color.

Firecracker Penstemon by Jim CribbsPaperbag Bush by Jim CribbsSlenderwire Lettuce by Jim Cribbs
Paperbag BushSlenderwire

Blooms Visible May 17

Calico Basin is a diversified island of native plant life with rocky cliffs, dry washes, salt meadows and open desert.  That’s one of the reasons why the wildflower population is so varied here. As you enter Calico Basin, you will notice the standard desert Creosote, Black brush mix that falls away to desert dry washes. If you pull over and walk into these washes, you will find the Yerba Santa and other common flowers in various stages of bloom. Don’t spend too long in the dry washes, local thunderstorms can make them fast moving stream quickly.   As you approach Red Springs, you will notice bright pink Bush Penstemon and Palmer’s Penstemon, lining the road. Inside Red Springs, the Watercress, Alkali Mariposa Lily, Hoary Aster, Yellow Sweet Clover and Yerba Manza are adding their hues to the green and red landscape.
Yerba Manza by Jim CribbsPalmer's Penstemon by Jim CribbsBush Penstemon by Jim CribbsAlkali Mariposa Lily by Jim Cribbs
Yerba ManzaPalmer's PenstemonBush PenstemonAlkali Mariposa Lily
Thread Leave Ragwort by Jim CribbsWatercress by Jim CribbsStrawberry Hedgehog Cactus by Jim CribbsHoary Aster by Jim Cribbs
Thread Leaved RagwortWatercressStrawberry Hedgehog CactusHoary Aster
Yellow Sweet Clover by Jim Cribbs   
Yellow Sweet Clover   

Blooms Visible May 10

This may be a shortened year for wildflowers, but nobody has told them that.  When you take the 13-Mile Scenic Drive out to Willow Springs you are met with flashes of colors:  purple, orange, yellow, white, cream and magenta.  The Apache Plume and Cliff Rose are flowering and also going to seed.  Indian Paint Brush can still be seen pushing through other plants to lend its red color to the vista and the white New Mexico Thistle is still standing tall. Combine these with the dark purple of Indigo Bush, Notched Leaved Phacelia, Range Ratany and the ever present yellows of the Desert Marigold and Brittlebush, the bloom season is still something to see.  Once you get to Willow Springs, you will find the Squaw bush budding and the Yerba Santa in bloom.  Looking in the nooks and hollows, you can find Sacred Datura, Hairy Golden Aster and Engelmann Prickly Pear cactus blooming.

 New Mexico Thistle by Jim CribbsDesert Marigolds by Jim Cribbs 
 New Mexico Thistle Desert Marigold 
Indigo Bush by Jim CribbsSpuaw bush by Jim CribbsRange Ratany by Jim CribbsYerba Santa by Jim Cribbs
Indigo BushSquaw Bush Range RatanyYerba Santa
Engelmann Prickly Pear Cactus by Jim CribbsDesert Indian PaintbrushApache Plume by Jim CribbsCliff Rose by Jim Cribbs
Engelmann Prickly PearDesert Indian Paint Brush Apache Plume Cliff Rose 
Hairy Golden Aster by Jim CribbsNotched Leaf Phacelia by Jim CribbsBrittlebush by Jim CribbsSacred Datura by Jim Cribbs
Hairy Golden AsterNotched Leaf PhaceliaBrittlebushSacred Datura

Blooms Visible May 3

In a year that has had good rainfall at the appropriate time, a springtime drive out to Cottonwood Valley can be worthwhile if it's wildflowers you're searching for. This is what spurred us to visit this area south of State Route 160 just west of the Late Night parking area. In previous years, the ground cover of colorful flowers has been beautiful and expansive. This year was a little disappointing but not totally a wash. A hike along the Dead Horse Loop trail had us crouching next to the trail and in nearby washes to get photos. Of course there are Desert Paintbrush to see, but we were also interested those that were harder to spot. This included rarer sights such as Groundsel, Prince's Plume, Gooding’s Verbena, Showy Goldeneye, Yellow Cryptantha and Desert Sandwort.  It has been a great year for Ephedra, as most plants are blooming heavily.  As we got higher up on the trail we stopped seeing blooms. On the way back down after temperatures had risen a bit, we came across many Northern White-Skipper and Sagebrush Checkerspot butterflies pollinating the Mojave Goldenbush. There was also an impressive show by a colorful Side-Blotched Lizard doing push-ups alongside the trail.

Desert Sandwort by Jeanne Tinsman              Desert Paintbrush by Jeanne Tinsman

         Desert Paintbrush           Desert Sandwort
Showy Goldeneye Yellow Cryptantha by Chelise Simmons Gooding's Verbena by Chelise Simmons
Showy GoldeneyeYellow CryptanthaGooding's Verbena
Prince's Plume by Chelise SimmonsGreen Ephedra by Chelise SimmonsGroundsel by Jeanne Tinsman
Prince's PlumeGreen EphedraGroundsel
Blooms visible April 26

While many wildflowers have begun to fade, there is still time to enjoy the last spring season blooms at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Since Red Spring had so much to offer the prior week, we decided to return in hopes of seeing more wildflowers. As we traveled along State Route 159, we spotted the deep purple flowers of the Indigo Bush. These were in full bloom, while at Red Spring this same plant was just catching up.

Once we arrived at Red Spring, we noticed the Joshua Tree flowers had disappeared. Even though these giant white blooms of the Joshua Tree have passed, they have left an abundance of fruit behind. In the same area, the Creosote also displayed cotton-like fruit, as well as tiny yellow flowers. As we continued along the trail, we saw nearby in an outcrop of Shinarump conglomerate (highly resistant course-grained sandstone and pebble mix) with numerous Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus in bloom, as well as tiny purple-colored flowers of the Range Ratany. We also visited Red Spring once more to see the Pretty Shooting Stars fading, but in their absence St. George Blue-eyed Grass was thriving. Saving the best for last, we came upon a disturbed hillside to find the delicate white flowers of the Desert Bearpoppy. This wildflower is a definite rare treat with it being listed as a species of conservation concern. Worried that the harsh winds may have broken the delicate fuzzy stems, we were happy to see that the new blooms had withstood the haphazard weather. Other blooms in the area include Amsonia, Scarlet Guara, Paperflower and a purple Globemallow.

As the temperatures begin to rise, the chance to see these unique flowers will be coming to an end, so be sure to get out and enjoy them while you can!  

Indigo Bush by Chelise SimmonsJoshua Tree with Fruit by Leah Daniel Desert Bearpoppy by Leah DanielPretty Shooting Star by Chelise Simmons
 Indigo BushJoshua Tree with fruitDesert BearpoppyPretty Shooting Star
Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus by Leah DanielCreosote by Leah DanielSt. George Blue-eyed Grass by Chelise SimmonsRange Ratany by Chelise Simmons
Strawberry Hedgehog CactusCreosoteSt. George Blue-eyed Grass Range Ratany
Amsonia by Chelise SimmonsPaperflower by Chelise SimmonsScarlet Guara by Chelise SimmonsGlobemallow (purple) by Chelise Simmons
 AmsoniaPaperflowerScarlet GuaraGlobemallow (purple)

Blooms visible April 19

Even though we’ve had a cool week, our wildflowers are still putting on a show with new species arriving each day. On a walk to Red Spring, the hillsides have come alive with white blooms of Cliff Rose, which were contrasted by the vibrantly red tube-like flowers of the Firecracker Penstemon. Hidden amongst the hillside in small patches were a few blooms of the Giant Four O’Clock, just beginning to open their purple petals.  As we continued to brave the wind and cold, a shout of delight had caught our attention. Once we came upon the hilltop that descended to the cool spring we saw what all the commotion was about when we noticed one lone bloom from a Straggling Mariposa Lily. The excitement continued as we arrived at the spring where we stumbled upon a field of Pretty Shooting Stars. These charming fuschia-colored flowers seem to thrive in wet soil along with another moisture-loving species known as the Stream Orchid. These flowers were found in the shade of a tree where clusters of the plant were slowly beginning to open their greenish-pink petals. With more blooms sure to come and the weather getting warmer, visitors should definitely make plans in the near future to explore Red Spring area!

Near the visitor center and along the Moenkopi Trail many blooms are in store.  These include Blue Flax, Marigold, Globemallow, Aster, Banana Yucca, Yellow Two-Tone Penstamon, Beavertail Cactus, Penstamon and Windmill.

Firecracker Penstemon by Leah DanielCliff Rose by Leah DanielGiant Four O’Clock by Leah DanielPretty Shooting Stars by Leah Daniel
Firecracker PenstemonCliff RoseGiant Four O'ClockPretty Shooting Stars
Straggling Mariposa Lily by Leah DanielWindmill by CHelise Simmons blue flax by Cehlise Simmons Yellow Two-tone Penstamon by Chelise Simmons
Straggling Mariposa LilyWindmillBlue FlaxYellow Two-Tone Penstemon
Stream Orchid by Leah DanielMarigold, Globemallow and Aster by Chelise SimmonsBanana Yucca by Chelise SimmonsBeavertail Cactus by Chelise Simmons
Stream OrchidDesert Marigold, Globemallow and AsterBanana YuccaBeavertail Cactus
Penstamon by Chelise Simmons   

Blooms visible April 12

A walk around the two-mile Moenkopi trail on April 9th surprised us with a spectacular array of colorful flowers—many that don’t bloom each year, with the Black brush being one of them. Normally drab in color, the bright yellow flowers scattered the hillside instantly capturing our attention and cameras. A sea of purple also caught our eye with clusters of Purple Sage as well as three feet tall stalks of Palmer’s Penstemon dotting the surrounding area. Tucked into rocky crevices around the top of the trail were some delicate Scarlet Guara in bloom along with a few lavender colored Mojave Asters. The Banana Yucca finally caught up with the Mojave Yucca displaying creamy banana-shaped flowers, while a tiny bloom of Evening Primrose popped up in the same area. If visitors don’t have enough time in the day for a hike at Red Rock Canyon, many flowering plant species can be seen surrounding the Visitor Center including Golden Mojave Aster, Groundsel, and Apache Plume.

 Groundsel by Leah DanielPalmer's Penstemon by Leah Daniel 
 GroundselPalmer's Penstemon 
Blackbrush by Leah Danielpurple sage by Leah DanielApache plume by Leah DanielScarlet guara by Leah Daniel
Black BrushPurple SageApache PlumeScarlet Guara
Mojave Asters by Leah DanielBanana yucca by Leah DanielEvening primrose by Leah DanielGolden Mojave Aster by Leah Daniel
Mojave AsterBanana YuccaEvening PrimroseGolden Mojave Aster

Blooms visible April 5

Though it has not been a bumper crop of wildflowers this spring, there is plenty to discover along Red Rock Canyon trails. With warmer temperatures came the budding and blooming of Joshua Trees and Mojave Yucca; this does not occur every year, so it's been a real treat! Desert Globemallow and Desert Marigolds are currently brightening our roadsides and trails - watch for winged visitors such as Sagebrush Checkerspots and other butterflies visiting for nectar. Other spring wildflowers which have been observed include Notch-leaf Phacelia and Rosy Two-tone Penstemon. Cactus are slower to join the show, as many species are just starting to grow and bud such as this Cottontop cactus with brilliant red new spines.

There are more discoveries to make here at Red Rock Canyon - come and enjoy a day outdoors!

Joshua Trees by Chelise SimmonsMojave Yucca by Jeanne TinsmanNotch-leaf Phacelia by Jeanne TinsmanDesert globemallow by Jeanne Tinsman
Joshua TreesMojave YuccaNotch-leaf PhaceliaDesert globemallow
Desert marigold with Sagebrush Checkerspot butterfly by Chelise SimmonsRosy two-tone penstemon by Jeanne TinsmanCottontop cactus by Jeanne Tinsman 
Desert marigold with Sagebrush Checkerspot butterflyRosy two-tone PenstemonCottontop cactus 


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