Saguaros in Bloom: Early Summer in the Sonoran Desert
May and June mean increasing heat in southern Arizona, but the still-cool mornings are a great time to get out and see the saguaros in bloom. The giant cacti put on a spectacular show, and the arms offer bouquets of waxy blooms that bees, bats and doves (and photographers) love to feast on.
The best places to see these around Tucson are in the Santa Catalina foothills, Sabino Canyon, Saguaro National Park, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on the western edge of the city.
[Both divisions of Saguaro National Park (East and West) as well as Sabino Canyon have visitors' centers--their gift shops are a good place to stock up on edible cactus products--the prickly-pear syrup is expensive, but makes great margaritas and is superb on pancakes...]
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Late summer in the desert: rains and blooms
Summer: 'avoid the desert,' think most... But if you're willing to bear late summer's heat and higher humidity (yes, even the desert can be humid at times), you'll be treated to spectacles grand and small. Thunderstorms rolling across mountain ranges can seem like cosmic buckets pouring over the vastness...Zoom in, and wildflowers will catch your eye: morning-glory and sacred datura (a.k.a. jimson weed) thrive in riparian canyons. Avoid the heat of mid-day; mornings and evenings around Tucson you'll be joined by hikers and joggers in the lush Sonoran desert. One of the best places to be is on the city's NE edge, in and around Sabino Canyon.
Hiking in Arizona during the summer is a grueling, and, quite honestly, horrible ordeal when temperatures reach well over 100 degrees. But in the winter or spring, it's ideal! Sabino Canyon is popular for a reason, with saguaros standing guard along the many trails in this park. It's also one of the few places with water flowing which makes it all the more unique for us desert dwellers.
Sabino Canyon lies in northern Tucson off Sabino Canyon Road.