With the abundant rain and snow that has occurred throughout the desert southwest in the 2022-2023 winter it is expected that the wildflower season will be spectacular.
The first show for the Tucson area is at Picacho Peak.
Picacho Peak is about 1/2 between Tucson and Phoenix. For more than 100 years the main forms of transportation have rolled past this uniquely shaped mountain.
The first road was a wagon trail, followed later by the railroad. On this day the railroad served as a backdrop for a great patch of poppies. In the far right center are the tops of the snow covered Catalina Mountains.
As the automobile came into existence Arizona Highway 84 was paved past Picacho Peak. In the 1960s it was replaced by the now 6 lane Interstate 10, yet the poppies continue to thrive.
Because it is directly along the major freeway between the two cities, and is the first in the area to bloom, the crowds were quite large. We opted not to sit in the huge line to get into the park, rather found a space outside the park and walked in.
It was well worth the short walk.
In addition to the poppies the ground cover has a verdant green look.
But it is the poppies that everyone comes for.
The beautiful colors, along with the impressive geological features of Picacho Peak, make the visit a must. Just plan ahead, be patient and enjoy.
It was amusing for the first couple of snowfalls this winter, with an inch or two of snow, enough to add a topping of white to the cacti of Tucson. This time the weather got serious and dropped up to 7 inches in the foothills where we live! The good news is by late afternoon it had all melted.
Amusingly the official measurements at the Tucson Airport for this winter shows more snowfall there than in Washington DC or Philadelphia, each of which has had essentially no snow so far.
The local weather people called it ‘generational’, something not seen in a couple of decades.
It was however beautiful while it lasted, and didn’t stick to the roads. All those snowbirds in town are probably asking for a refund.
I headed out at first light. While you could get into part of Saguaro National Park, the 8 mile loop road remained closed greatly restricting the initial views with the heaviest snow.
It had snowed heavily overnight, and by daylight the clouds were beginning to break up and the morning sun was illuminating a mountain visible from ~25 miles away.
At nearby Agua Caliente Park the palm trees also had snow toppings, as well as some fog rising off of the pond.
The drive back past Saguaro National Park showed more of the heavy snow on the vegetation, as well as the snow free roads.
A quick visit back to Colossal Cave Park, where we had played in the snow last Sunday.
The cave has enough elevation where you had great views across the valleys to the nearby mountains, with the valleys even having snow.
A brief stop in the neighborhood.
It was late enough in the morning that Saguaro National Park had finally opened the loop road. While some of the snow had already melted by mid day, there was still plenty for some amazing scenes.
While it is beautiful, enough is enough – time to get back to Arizona March – sunny days in the 70s.
A 75 degree Sunday in early February was perfect for going for a hike in Tucson’s best natural area, Sabino Canyon.
Southern Arizona is one of those places where you can have a saguaro cactus and snow topped mountains in the same shot.
While at first glance they may all look like, many seem to take on personalities with the variation in the arms.
The hike on this day took us through Rattlesnake Canyon. Good news – it was a canyon. Better news – no rattlesnakes were seen on this day.
Eventually we made our way into a wash that had water running through it from the snow melt thousands of feet above us up in the Catalina Mountains.
While the Saguaro National Park is located just a few miles away from here, Sabino Canyon has a much denser cacti collection due mainly to the fact that back in the 1930s they allowed cows to graze in the National Park area, and many of the saguaros were destroyed.
Most cholla’s are brownish/green but sometimes you find purple ones.
The canyon got deeper as we made our way towards the end.
Sabino Canyon is one of Tucson’s most popular spot, and it is well deserved.
Colossal Cave has been a tourist destination for 100 years, but most people come to go into the earth for touring the caves. Today everyone came to enjoy the highly unusual snowy landscape.
Not too often do you see Agave plants with snow on them.
The historic building had a ski lodge feel with the snow.
There is a short nature trail that normally cautions people to make sure they take plenty of water to deal with the heat. Today’s biggest challenge was the slick footing, but well worth the brief hike.
Bits of ice on a saguaro cactus.
The snow really stuck to the cholla’s, but then again, most anything will easily stick to a cholla if you are not careful.
The brittle bush has blooms from the recent rains, and now snow.
Another beautiful snowy cholla.
Yesterday it was 75 degrees and sunny. Today snow, Tomorrow will be 65 and sunny! Gotta love Southern Arizona.