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Arizona Desert Wildflower Pictures

A self-taught watercolor artist, I've been painting for 30+ years using techniques gleaned from other artists, books, videos and practice.

Close-up of beavertail cactus blossom in southern Arizona desert.

Close-up of beavertail cactus blossom in southern Arizona desert.

Photographing Arizona Desert Wildflowers

Winter visitors to the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona enjoy the endlessly sunny skies and dry desert air. By late February and into March and April the desert comes alive with cacti in bloom and tiny desert wildflowers nestled among the rocks and crevasses.

Camping in the Imperial Dam Recreation area near Yuma, Arizona gave me the opportunity to photograph some of the beautiful flowers of the desert as they came into bloom.

Finding Desert Flowers

Hiking in the desert is a joy as each footstep reveals something new. Some flowers, like the yellow brittlebush, are tall and showy, but others are so tiny that they are hidden among the stones on the desert floor. Many desert wildflowers are only visible from a foot or two away. I photographed these with a close-up lens being careful not to trample any of the plants.

Beavertail Cactus

While camping at Senator's Wash in the Imperial Dam Recreation Area on the Arizona/California border, we carefully avoided brushing against the beavertail cactus in front of our RV. By mid March, when daytime temperatures were often in the 70° to 80° range, the beavertail cactus was covered in buds. Imagine our delight when our own wild cactus garden near our campsite started blooming with these lovely deep pink blooms. These cactus flowers certainly made a bright spot in our little area of the Arizona desert.

During our walks in the surrounding desert, we often came across other flowers, but our best wildflower hunting expeditions were on the rough back roads that we explored in our little Jeep Wrangler.

Wildflowers of Arizona's Sonoran Desert

Purple wildflowers bloom on a bank alongside a rugged dirt road.

Purple wildflowers bloom on a bank alongside a rugged dirt road.

Brittlebush blooming in a canyon near Imperial Dam.  The brittlebush blooms in washes and along roadside brightening the landscape with promises of spring.

Brittlebush blooming in a canyon near Imperial Dam. The brittlebush blooms in washes and along roadside brightening the landscape with promises of spring.

Closeup of Brittlebush in Bloom.  Imperial Dam Recreation Area near Bard, Arizona.

Closeup of Brittlebush in Bloom. Imperial Dam Recreation Area near Bard, Arizona.

Possibly a globemallow or wild poppy, we found this brilliant orange flower in a hidden wash while hunting for a turquoise mine in the hills near Imperial Dam.

Possibly a globemallow or wild poppy, we found this brilliant orange flower in a hidden wash while hunting for a turquoise mine in the hills near Imperial Dam.

The bright orange of this plant stood out among the browns and grays in the wash.  Watch out for rattlesnakes!

The bright orange of this plant stood out among the browns and grays in the wash. Watch out for rattlesnakes!

The gray-green fuzzy leaves of this tiny yellow flower would overlooked if you were not walking close by.

The gray-green fuzzy leaves of this tiny yellow flower would overlooked if you were not walking close by.

Tiny daisies pop up between the stones.

Tiny daisies pop up between the stones.

Ajo Lily sometimes called a desert lily.  Beautiful while lily often springs up in the shadow of larger bushes.

Ajo Lily sometimes called a desert lily. Beautiful while lily often springs up in the shadow of larger bushes.

Desert marigold.  I found this large stand blooming on a hillside where the flowers were striking against the deep blue sky.

Desert marigold. I found this large stand blooming on a hillside where the flowers were striking against the deep blue sky.

By the time these fuzzy pink bushes were blooming, the weather was warming up in the desert.  I carefully checked for snakes before getting too close.

By the time these fuzzy pink bushes were blooming, the weather was warming up in the desert. I carefully checked for snakes before getting too close.

Ghost flower.  This translucent flower can cover a stony bank, but will easily blend into the background if you aren't looking for it.

Ghost flower. This translucent flower can cover a stony bank, but will easily blend into the background if you aren't looking for it.

Cluster of ghost flowers on a bank along the trail.

Cluster of ghost flowers on a bank along the trail.

These tiny pink flowers can only be appreciated very close up.

These tiny pink flowers can only be appreciated very close up.

I hope you've enjoyed this photo gallery of Arizona's Wildflowers as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

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Copyright 2010 ©Stephanie Henkel

Lying in gulches, braving snakes and other dangerous wildlife, I took these photos for you to enjoy. But please do not copy these photos without my permission!