7 places to see and smell wildflowers near Phoenix

wildflowers in Phoenix

(Instagram Photo/Boyce Thompson Arboretum)

By Jill Schildhouse

March 22, 2024

Wildflower season: It’s one of the most magical times of the year in Phoenix. But timing is everything, which means you have a relatively short window to behold their beauty — usually from February through April. Some wildflower viewing spots are free but require a little hike, while others are available in easier-to-access botanical gardens for a nominal fee. 

What should you be on the lookout for as you visit these seven spots around the Valley? Fluffy pink Fairy Dusters, orange Desert Globemallow, purple Owl Clover, pink Parry’s Penstemon, and joyful yellow brittlebush, to name a few.

An important reminder before we dive in: Respect the wildflowers and take only pictures. Picking wildflowers today means fewer blooming populations next year. That will not only deplete your future viewing opportunities, but it will also negatively impact the delicate desert ecosystem—wildflowers provide food and shelter for much of our wildlife, not to mention nectar and pollen to our important pollinators. 


White Tank Mountain Regional Park

At the west end of Olive Avenue about 15 miles west of the 101 (Agua Fria Highway) in Waddell lies White Tank Mountain Regional Park. Many people bring their bikes here to enjoy 21 miles of rugged trails, but if you aren’t stopping to smell the roses—er, wildflowers—you’re missing out. 

Waterfall trail is a nearly two-mile out-and-back stretch with an easy rating (only 80 feet of elevation gain, so it’s relatively flat) and it’s likely you’ll be treated to wildflowers, blooming trees, shrubs, and cacti alongside the butterflies who visit them. After a nice rain, you may find a waterfall at the end of your hike (as the trail name suggests), but most other times it’ll just be a trickle. 

7 places to see and smell wildflowers near Phoenix

Photo courtesy of White Tank Mountain Regional Park via Facebook

Sonoran Preserve

If you time your visit to the Sonoran Preserve just right, you’ll view a field of yellow brittlebush, marigolds, orange globemallow, and more along the Apache Wash Trailhead in Phoenix. This moderate trail with just 153 feet of elevation change and only half a mile in length is perfect for a quick stroll through the wildflowers.

The Badger Brawl Trail (3.4 miles and 124-foot elevation change), which you’ll reach from the Apache Wash Trailhead, features large Saguaros with more wildflowers if you’re looking for a longer hike. You’ll cross several dry river beds, so avoid this trail right after a big rainstorm.  

Desert Botanical Garden

Yes, this location comes with an entrance fee, but the sheer number of wildflowers at the Desert Botanical Garden will blow your mind. There are many trails to choose from included with the price of admission, but our pick for spring is the aptly named Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Trail. Here you’ll find brightly colored blooms as well as their busy pollinator friends (bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies).  

It’s a wonder how some of these plant species thrive in one of the hottest and driest parts of the world, yet each of the nature paths here has plenty of flora and fauna to show off. Stop by the Cohn Family Butterfly Pavilion to learn more about the pollinators that make all this possible. 

7 places to see and smell wildflowers near Phoenix

Photo courtesy of Desert Botanical Garden via Facebook

Piestewa Peak

One of the most beloved hikes in Phoenix, the Piestewa Peak trailhead is located at the northeast corner of 32nd Street and Lincoln Drive. This is the Phoenix Mountains Preserve’s second-highest point (after Camelback Mountain), at 2,608 feet, and getting to the top via the Summit Trail #300 takes a bit of fortitude (and scrambling at the top). 

Instead, choose Quartz Ridge Trail #8A, a 3.5-mile hike with 650 feet of elevation gain — it’s a moderately challenging route with no shade and rocky terrain, so plan accordingly. Your prize once you’ve gotten your heart rate up? Brilliantly hued wildflowers scattered throughout the Sonoran Desert trail and amazing views of the Valley.  

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Welcome to 343 acres of winding trails and hidden gardens you might not have known existed in Arizona—the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior (about an hour from central Phoenix) is the state’s oldest and largest botanical garden. With over 3,900 different plant species and great views of Picket Post Mountain, this garden is also filled with wildlife, especially birds.

Mid-March to late April is an especially ideal timeframe to view native Sonoran Desert wildflowers here. Some of the flowers you might see include Desert Zinnia, yellow Desert Marigolds, orange Mexican poppies, and blue-violet Lupine, so keep your eyes peeled.

7 places to see and smell wildflowers near Phoenix

Photo courtesy of Boyce Thompson Arboretum via Instagram

Lost Dutchman State Park

Named after a fabled lost gold mine in the Superstition Mountains, Lost Dutchman State Park is a popular spot for picnics, campsites, hiking trails, and more. It’s located just 40 miles east of downtown Phoenix in Apache Junction, and the meandering ride is half the fun of getting there. 

Along the 2.4-mile Treasure Loop Trail, look for cheerful blooms of brittlebush, poppies, fiddle necks, and desert evening primrose dotting the landscape. Bird lovers will also delight in sightings of quails, roadrunners, larks, and thrashers — bring your binoculars. Prospector’s View Trail, rated moderate, is often teeming with wildflowers too. 

7 places to see and smell wildflowers near Phoenix

Photo courtesy of Arizona State Parks via Facebook

South Mountain Park and Preserve

One of the largest municipal parks in the country, South Mountain Park and Preserve offers 16,000 acres of nature and more than 58 miles of trails for horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking. It’s a lovely place to visit any time of year, but spring wildflower season is particularly heavenly. 

Look for wildflowers within areas accessible from the Central Avenue entrance (10919 S. Central Avenue), like the 4.5-mile Kiwanis Trail to Las Lomitas Trail Loop. You will also find wildflowers on the roadway leading to the Gila Valley overlook (at that same Central Avenue entrance) and on the 3.5-mile Javelina Canyon and Ridgeline Loop Trail.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.7 places to see and smell wildflowers near Phoenix7 places to see and smell wildflowers near Phoenix


READ MORE: 10 beautiful waterfall hikes in Arizona to try before it gets too hot


  • Jill Schildhouse

    Jill Schildhouse is a native Phoenician and award-winning lifestyle writer and editor who regularly contributes to such publications as Reader’s Digest, AARP, U.S. News & World Report, Taste of Home, and Southern Living. Jill has visited 43 countries and is always planning her next adventure.



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