Red Rock Canyon’s spring wildflower season occurs from early March to late May, with April being the typical time for peak blooms. We’ll update this post weekly throughout the spring to share what Naturalists are seeing and where they can be found. Please keep in mind that you should take only photos of plants in Red Rock Canyon, leaving the flowers and plants for others to enjoy.
Many of the species highlighted here can be found in the Wildflowers of Red Rock Canyon NCA brochure for purchase in the Gift Shop.
FINAL UPDATE FOR SPRING 2020 - JUNE 4, 2020
As we transition to the hot summer season, look for many of the previously highlighted flowers to form fruits and seeds! We hope you’ve enjoyed tracking the spring bloom with us. Some plants do bloom during the hot months of June through September, so keep an eye out for these selected plants:
- The pink to purple flowers of desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) can be found in early summer and will re-occur after summer rains.
- Barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus) will show yellow flowers on top, often looking like miniature pineapples in shape. Look for these cacti all throughout Red Rock Canyon.
- Evening primrose plants (Oenothera spp.) will display tall & beautiful golden flowers throughout washes and wet areas.
- Small and wiry, hoary aster (Dieteria canescens) can be found in bloom along sandy spots. Its purple daily-like petals and golden center are a delight to see! Keep an eye out for it around the Visitor Center, First Creek, Pine Creek, and the Calico Hills throughout the summer.
- Golden aster (Heterotheca villosa) starts to bloom in the latter half of summer, surrounding this shrub with yellow daisy-like flowers.
- Windmills (Allionia incarnate) can be found low on the ground with their refreshing splashes of small pink/purple flowers all throughout summer.
- Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) dazzles with vibrant red-lipped flowers within selected springs & canyons during mid-summer.
UPDATE AS OF MAY 28, 2020
The heat is on as summer temperatures have arrived early. If you plan on visiting to look for flowers, make sure to bring plenty of water, wear sun protection, and avoid the hottest parts of the day. Colors are beginning to fade, so enjoy blooms now before it is too hot! New highlights with the heat include:
- Buckhorn cholla (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa) is blooming with peach-colored flowers near Oak Creek and First Creek.
- Sacred datura (Datura wrightii) has large white blossoms growing low to the ground alongside roads and within disturbed areas.
- California buckwheat (Erigonum fasciculatum) is showing clusters of small white flowers that will turn into maroon seeds throughout the summer.
- Thistle (Cirsium spp.) are growing tall nearby seeps & along roads with spiky purple or white flower heads, depending on the species.
- Utah agave (Agave utahensis) are in bloom with tall yellow-flowered stalks in higher elevations, such as the tops of Fossil Ridge.
UPDATE AS OF MAY 21, 2020
A strong month of blooms continues to roll in May! We do remind visitors to only take photos and avoid picking flowers; we want pollinators and other visitors to enjoy spring's colors as well. New highlights include:
- Indigobush (Psorothamnus fremontii) is adding streaks of purple/blue throughout the entire area.
- Various prickly pear cacti (Opuntia spp.) are in different stages of bloom depending on species type; enjoy these "roses" of the desert!
- White-stemmed paper flower (Psilostrophe cooperi) is blooming in the lower elevations with yellow daisy flowers that will fade to white in the summer.
- Yerba mansa (Anemopsis californica) can be found in wet seeps with showy white blooms.
- Bush penstemon (Penstemon ambiguus) is putting out showy pink-white blooms in sandy areas.
UPDATE AS OF MAY 13, 2020
Flowers aplenty at Red Rock Canyon! Some of spring's earlier blooms are starting to fade/go to seed, such as globemallow. That said, we are seeing a wide variety of blooms. New higlights include:
- Virgin River brittlebush (Encelia virginensis) is producing a lot of golden daisy flowers alongside the shoulders of State Route 159.
- Larger shrubs, such as cliffrose (Purshia stansburyana) and Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa), are currently in bloom at mid to higher elevations.
- Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), one of the more common shrubs within the Mojave Desert, can be found blooming with small yellow flowers throughout Red Rock Canyon.
- The fragrant Palmer's penstemon (Penstemon palmeri) can be found within washes, along drainages, and on road shoulders.
UPDATE AS OF MAY 5, 2020
We are starting to hit peak blooms! Cacti, trees, shrubs, perennials, and annual plants can all be found flowering at the moment. Naturalists are finding roughly 60 different flowering species during their scout hikes! New sightings include:
- Hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus stramineus) is currently displaying gorgeous magenta blooms.
- Giant four o'clock (Mirabilis multiflora) can be found along roadsides and exposed hillsides.
- Straggling mariposa lily (Calochortus flexuosus) is in bloom wrapped up within small shrubs, adding dashes of colors to otherwise drab plants.
UPDATE AS OF APRIL 28, 2020
Wildflower colors are found all throughout Red Rock Canyon! The warm and sunny weather as of late has set off a lot of blooms, making it truly feel like spring. Desert marigold, globemallow, desert paintbrush, and woolly bluestar/amsonia continue to be excellent widespread flowers so far. New sightings include:
- Cliffrose shrubs (Purshia stansburiana) are blooming throughout the mid-elevations adding its sweet fragrance to the air!
- Western redbud trees (Cercis orbiculata) can be found in bloom within canyon washes.
- Beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris) is putting out magenta-colored flowers in lower elevations.
- Mojave goldenbush (Ericameria linearifolia) is putting on a show with its yellow daisy flowers along mid elevations, especially around Oak Creek.
- Purple sage (Salvia dorrii) is flowering with gorgeous lavender-blue aromatic blooms.
UPDATE AS OF APRIL 18, 2020
Our Naturalists are starting to see dozens of different wildflower species on their scout hikes, so colors are starting to appear! No cactus bloom to report yet. Fiddleneck, globemallow, desert paintbrush, and woolly bluestar/amsonia continue to be commonly found throughout the area. New highlights include:
- Desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata) brings smiles to faces with beautiful yellow ray flowers alongside roads & trails.
- Mojave aster (Xylorhiza tortifolia) is starting to bloom in lower elevations.
- The tiny dime-sized flowers of Wallace's woolly daisy (Eriophyllum wallacei) can be found in small carpets along open spaces of the desert floor.
UPDATE AS OF APRIL 11, 2020
Another cool and wet week at Red Rock Canyon! Snow even flew at higher elevations, giving us a taste of more late winter weather. No expansive wildflower bloom yet, but Naturalists did find these new species in bloom:
- Primrose plants (Oenothera spp.) dot trails and roadways with their large white flower petals.
- Blackbrush shrubs (Coleogyne ramosissima) are starting to show small yellow flowers.
- Bastard toadflax (Comandra umbellata) adds highlights of small white blooms within canyons and basins.
UPDATE AS OF APRIL 4, 2020
Colors are starting to gradually appear! Our Naturalists expect a nice mosaic of blooms as we continue throughout April. Desert paintbrush, fiddleneck, filaree, and wild rhubarb continue to be the most common flowers found throughout the area. New wildflower highlights include:
- Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) is starting to show its small orange flowers along open roadways throughout the area.
- Firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) can be found within Calico Basin and Ash Spring.
- The small white flowers of spiny menodora (Menodora spinescens) can be found throughout Wheeler Spring & Calico Basin.
- Fremont phacelia (Phacelia fremontii) is blooming nicely scattered across the desert floor.
UPDATE AS OF MARCH 28, 2020
The cool, wet, and cloudy weather this month at Red Rock Canyon didn't lend itself well for an explosion of wildflower blooms. However, meteorologists are expecting a drastic increase in temperatures and sunshine as we head into April; that should trigger more flowers! Current wildflower highlights include:
- Freckled milkvetch (Astragalus lentiginosus) has been found widely throughout the area.
- Desert paintbrush (Castilleja angustifolia) continues to provide a wonderful splashes of red all over Red Rock Canyon.
- Pretty shooting star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) can be found near seeps in Calico Basin, adding touches of pink to the area
UPDATE AS OF MARCH 21, 2020
We are continuing to see a lot of green grass & plant growth within the area, but the wildflowers continue to be limited (especially compared to somewhere like Lake Mead National Recreation Area or Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area). Good spots to look for wildflowers include Calico Basin, Ash Spring, First Creek, Oak Creek, and Pine Creek. New highlights include:
- Desert almond (Prunus fasciculata) has been spotted in bloom along the Scenic Drive, in addition to hosting western tent caterpillar nests.
- Woolly bluestar/amsonia (Amsonia tomentosa) was found in bloom along within Ash Spring, First Creek, and Oak Creek.
- Fiddleneck (Amsinckia tessellata) with its small yellow flowers and bristly hairs can be found along the Moenkopi Loop and First Creek.
UPDATE AS OF MARCH 14, 2020
We are seeing a lot of green plant growth but not much in bloom yet, especially compared to lower elevations within the Mojave Desert. Look for "belly flowers" (small flowers low to the ground) and some shrubs/trees with flowers. Calico Basin and the lower portions of Oak Creek, First Creek, and Pine Creek are good spots to search for flowers. Highlights include:
- Desert paintbrush (Castilleja angustifolia) has been found in bloom in Calico Basin and along the Calico Hills.
- Filaree (Erodium cicutarium) can be found throughout Red Rock Canyon, giving the desert carpet sparkles of pink.
- Wild rhubarb (Rumex hymenosepalus) is putting on a show in sandy areas such as Calico Basin, Willow Spring, and Pine Creek.
- Pointleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens) shrubs now feature small pink-to-white bell-shaped blooms; look for them around Sandstone Quarry, Willow Spring, Pine Creek, and Oak Creek.
- Silk tassel (Garrya flavescens) now have tapered gray-green inflorescences hanging throughout the shrub and can be found along the Calico Hills, Sandstone Quarry, Willow Spring, and First Creek.