It is the beginning of the wildflower season in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Last Sunday the state was covered in dense fog and on Wednesday I was out looking for wildflowers. Paul Gill, co-author of Wild in Arizona (new version coming out in March, and a must have book) gave me the heads up on some poppies that were already in bloom west of Tucson. I couldn’t resist making a last-minute drive down on Wednesday afternoon to see the field of poppies and to get a few shots!
Gathering up all my gear, packing snacks and plenty of water, my GPS and my Wild in Arizona book in case I wanted to check out some other locations, I was ready to go! Driving down I-10 past Picacho Peak State Park, it looked completely green and lush! A good sign there will be lots of wildflowers in this location.
Once I arrived in Tucson, I headed south on I-19 and then west on Highway 86. I had never been to this area and was quite curious as to what I would see and find. Southern Arizona has a challenge with illegal activity. I have been to Nogales, Mexico just across the border from Arizona and you will see U.S. Border Patrol vehicles along the way. However, just being 15 miles west of I-19 on Highway 86, I was surprised to see so many vehicles. In just over an hour there were 8-10 vehicles and twice they had people pulled over. Yes, it was nerve-wracking as I was by myself. I found a field of poppies and stopped to make a few images. The poppies were large and tall and so vibrant! I didn’t stay long as my comfort level with all of the U.S. Border Patrol activity had me concerned. The fields of poppies haven’t peaked as there were many unopened blooms and other wildflowers were just starting to show. If the opportunity arises, I would love to go back in this next week and travel even further west to chase those ever beautiful Arizona wildflowers. The beginning of wildflower season has started in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and this area sure brings hope that it will be a spectacular season!