Primrose, Poppies, and Penstemons
Visit Globe to See Wildflowers
Botanists are predicting that the spring of 2013 should be a memorable year for wildflowers. Plan a day-trip or a weekend getaway to Globe-Miami in March, April, or May when the flowers will be at their peak. The scenic roads leading here are worth the drive, and our higher elevation means you'll see roadside poppies long after they have bloomed at lower elevations.
Highway 60 heading east from the Valley and Highway 77 driving north from Tucson are two of the best wildflower drives in Arizona. Phoenix residents gain more than 2,000 feet in elevation driving to Globe, and have the chance to see chaparral species such as the delicate pink manzanita flowers which line the roadside as you drive through Tonto National Forest during March (look for evergreen sumac, patches of Gooddings verbena and fragrant ceanothus as well). Highway 60 has surprisingly photogenic patches of goldpoppies sprucing up the roadside through Miami and Claypool, too.
Approaching from Tucson? Watch for the white and pink variants of Globemallow as you drive north on highway 77 through the towns of Mammoth and Winkelman. Make sure to have a spare memory card (or plenty of slide film) for the stretch of highway that parallels the Gila River. Majestic saguaros are too numerous to be counted here -- and will soon be surrounded by golden flowering brittlebush, purplish-violet flowers of hedgehog cacti, phacelia, fleabane daisies and dozens of other wildflowers.
Roadsides and foothills of the Pinal Mountains here in Globe and Miami prove the truth of the poetic line that “nature’s first green is gold.”
No wildflower drive would be complete without thick patches of photogenic poppies, so keep driving past downtown Miami. Even in the driest of years robust patches of Mexican goldpoppies can be found blooming through cracks in the sidewalk pavement along the highway near mileposts 244-246, most vibrant of all near the Phelps-Dodge Rod Plant just east of Miami as you drive through the small community of Claypool. Then, as you continue on highway 60, look for tall stands of golden yellow wallflower as you approach the Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce. Desert marigold flower along the roadside, too.
Four trails well worth hiking in the Pinal Mountains from the Ice House Canyon CCC Camp on the north side of this fine range near Globe. Trails include the Six Shooter, Ferndell, Ice House and Telephone Trails (you can also walk up the graded dirt road to Pioneer Pass). The Pinals also offer great birdwatching: Painted Redstart, Grace's Warbler and Bridled Titmouse can be found during spring migration along with Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker, and Cooper's Hawk. The Pinals are also known for local rarities such as Yellow-eyed Junco and Gray Vireo. Pinal Mountain hiking trail maps are available from the Tonto National Forest Globe Ranger Station; call 928-425-7189. Flowers to look for in the Pinal foothills include wallflower, spurge, freckled milkvetch, lupine, and thistle.
The best place for hikers and photographers is probably the city of Globe's Round Mountain Park. Plan an evening walk during March to see the ethereal glow of greenish-yellow hillsides gilt with yellow bladderpod complimented by evening primrose (Oenothera primiveris) blooming right along the relaxing dirt paths of this community park. Admission is free, there are miles of hiking trails, and Round Mountain Park is easy to find -- near the crossroads of Highways 60 and 70. Turn at the Country Kitchen restaurant - the park is just a short drive up the dirt road on the west side of the Samaritan Veterinary building.
Other flowers which are usually easy-to-find at Round Mountain include wild onions, covena, scorpionweed (Phacelia distans) and fragrant berberis shrubs. Robust penstemons can be distinguished by their color: “firecracker” penstemons are red, while the taller Parry's penstemon is usually vivid pink.
To find out what's in bloom this week and where to see the best color, call our staff toll-free at 800-804-5623 or email firstname.lastname@example.org