The Sonoran Desert surprises people who are expecting something more barren from a desert. It has a wide variety of plants, animals and activity going on all the time. For me, there are three great events on the desert all of which are very important to maintain the ecosystem. This is not to say there are not many beautiful seasons but there are three for which desert people especially wait.
Taking this from a calendar year, first come the wildflowers, something that is more spectacular some years (like last) than others. It takes the right combination of rain storms to bring on the best shows.
Then come the cactus blooms which don't all come at the same time but have a peak season where the blooms take your breath away. I am no expert but from what I have seen in my many years down here, the pink ones come first, then come the yellow and red, with the saguaro waiting to bring on the cactus finale.
Finally, for me, is the show put on by the monsoon season where storms sweep across the valleys, the thunder booms, the lightning puts on impressive shows, and the washes overtake those who didn't pay enough attention to what was going on in the mountains. During the monsoon season, you drive across the dips in the highway at your risk and many the sorry driver has had their car swept away by what they thought was a shallow stream.
This spring, I missed most of the wildflower show and won't likely be here for the monsoon, but have been lucky enough to see the cactus starting their blooming season. It's been a delight. We drive out to the desert, usually to the other side of the Tucson Mountains and hit a gravel road where we can stop wherever we see splotches of color to get out, walk closer, take photographs, sometimes gently touch the lovely, waxy blooms, and savor the beauty. I am not sure I will be here when it's at its fullest show but am happy to be seeing as much of it as I am.
Because there are so many beautiful blossoms, I decided to do this in colors. First come the pink. These are small and showy. They will often be under the edge of bigger shrubs. Their appearance alerts you that soon the show will be in full flower.
Click to enlarge any of the photos as each one, to me, is exquisite.
Most of these were taken with the telephoto lenses to squish the background out of the way and get the maximum detail. They involve parking the car in a wide spot, getting out, watching cautiously for rattlesnakes, and avoiding all the desert thorns-- generally.