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Old 01-06-2022, 09:19 PM   #1
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Spring flower bloom in SW desert

We're contemplating a trip from Florida to Arizona to see the spring flower bloom. My understanding is that takes place in late February and March but I gather it's like seeing fall colors in the Smokies. You might plan to be there in October but the leaves don't know about your plans.

Anyway, we're going to meander our way west through states that typically don't close their campgrounds in winter. At least, most are open. I was thinking about heading as far north and west as Death Valley, then head east, possibly including the lower part of Utah and/or Colorado.

Now I'm wondering whether the public parks where we like to camp are even open. Also, do I (a Florida guy with no experience driving in snow, much less towing a trailer) have any reason to be concerned about weather?

I can look at each individual park to see when they're open but can those of you in that area give me a general idea how they operate? Maybe offer suggestions for our plan?

Our return route includes Springfield MO and Asheville NC to visit friends and family. That's why I thought we'd travel along the bottom of CO but it may behoove us to travel a little farther south and turn north when we get there.
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Old 01-07-2022, 07:33 AM   #2
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Weather is always a concern in that neck of the woods. As long as you check weather so you are not caught off guard things should be fine. Keep in mind the worse the weather the slower you should be traveling.
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Old 01-07-2022, 09:15 AM   #3
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late february to march seems a bit early to me but that may be because we live up in th cooler mountains of arizona. the lower desert may bloom earlier. the saguaro cactus around may and that is something you should see.

the arizona state parks are open and there are several that are very nice. two we like are catalina outside tucson and wild horse ranch outside cottonwood.
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Old 01-07-2022, 09:49 AM   #4
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Wildflower bloom is both time- and intensity- related to winter rain patterns. Unlike east coast fall timing, it can vary all over the map. In some years there's none, in others it's incredible. Could be December, could be April, could be anywhere in between. We even get them in the summer if we get the right monsoon conditions.
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Old 01-07-2022, 10:54 AM   #5
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We wouldn't leave until mid- to late February and will take several weeks to get there, so our arrival would be mid- to late March. We plan to hang around in the area a couple of weeks so we're flexible as to when they bloom.

We're flexible as to where we go, except to the extent park reservations aren't available. We're outfitted for boondocking but have no experience so we don't know how to plan for that in the SW.
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Old 01-07-2022, 11:58 AM   #6
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The earliest blooms start in late Feb at low elevations like 1,000 feet in Death Valley. The amount of precip and timing of it determines the intensity of the blooms.

The phenology of native plants determines when they bloom. In a general sense, the bloom time follows the elevation. Starts in Feb in the low desert and the high mountains bloom in summer.

In order to travel around the West you are going to have to negotiate some high elevation sections and passes. If you are from Florida pulling a trailer, March is too early. By April or even May the snow storms will be of shorter duration and melt off faster. There will be plenty of blooms if you know where to look. Good Luck.
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Old 01-07-2022, 12:37 PM   #7
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So, it sounds like we're starting too early. Nothing prevents us from starting a month later.
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Old 01-07-2022, 04:56 PM   #8
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Be prepared for freezing weather. You might to run a dry camp at times.
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Old 01-07-2022, 05:42 PM   #9
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Stay way south of I-40 until about May or your going to see no flowers to speak of. But you will see wind and cold until then. My suggestion is stay no further north than I-20 and stop and see the Hill Country in Texas on I-10 around the end of March and April for flowers. Its a sight! Then head for Big Bend Park in Texas. After that head back to El Paso and travel on towards Tucson. Lots of beauty on both sides of I-10 from Silver City NM on the north side of I-10 and Bisbee, Douglas, Tombstone and Antelope Valley on the South Side of I-10. Southern Arizona is fantastic all across the Southern half of the state in the spring. If you get over to the Yuma area then turn North up the Colorado River all the way to Bullhead, Arizona before turning back to the East to Kingman AZ. Your trek back then will be run by the Weather man. I-40 should be OK and when you hit OKeY city you can catch I-44 up the Springfield MO. If you get back down towards Mountain Home, AR, heading South give me a shout, you'll be close to my place. Good luck.
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Old 01-07-2022, 06:59 PM   #10
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I-10 would be my choice going West from Florida in February and March. Once you get to Texas, get off the interstate, stop at the first state park that looks good to you, buy an annual pass, and get their guide. The pass will save you serious money, and Texas State Parks are mostly fantastic. Use the guide to pick a route either along the gulf or near San Antonio. Out of San Antonio take state 90, picking parks that interest you. Around Del Rio there are some nice Forest Service CG’s around the Amistad reservoir. Seminole Canyon SP is just a little West of there on 90. That highway is really nice and smooth with little traffic. At Marathon you can head down to Big Bend NP (need reservations, or early arrival to snag the FCFS sites). There is lots of Beautiful Nothing out this way, so keep your tanks full. At Marfa, go North to Davis Mountain SP, one of our most fav places. Then go up to I-10 and motor to New Mexico. Lots of neato State Park CG’s if you want to explore there. Just keep in mind that NM is mostly higher elevations, so the nights can be cold. Once you get to Arizona, get off 10 around Tucson, and take 86 to Why. From there, go south to Organ Pipe National Monument. This is in the top 2 or 3 places we like to go in the winter. In March 2020 the desert flora was gorgeous. There is a micro climate that gets a bit more moisture. The ranger programs are first class, and hikes and scenic drives abound. The CG there is very nice, but no power or water. In the Southwest boondocking is a pretty normal camping mode, so be prepared. If you call the park now, they can probably give you an idea of what the “bloom possibilities” are.

Can you tell we might just love this trip? Again, lots of “beautiful nothing”! Been there, and will most happily do it again. It’s a looong way from Florida, so the return is another journey on its own. Not too much climbing hills on I-10, but I-20 and I-40 are a different story. The weatherman is your friend.

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Old 01-07-2022, 07:40 PM   #11
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Rule 1: With the flexibility of your schedule it is likely that you'll be able to make the best possible decision regarding towing in snow...Don't Do It. Wait for it to melt. (My TT chains are 7 years old and, thankfully, still brand new. I live in the Pacific NW and we camp all winter, but so far I've been able to live according to this rule. We had to cancel our traditional New Years Eve campout with friends at the ocean this year to comply with Rule 1.)

Rule 2: In case you should get caught on the road in a snowstorm with no place to wait it out, make sure you have new chains that fit both your TV AND TT. Practice putting them on in decent weather so you can be better ready for putting them on during the storm.

Suggestion 3: If I ever need to put my chains on I plan to increase my trailer brake gain one setting to make sure the TT brakes come on slightly ahead of the TV brakes. My theory is that there will be less chance of jackknifing if the TT brakes come on first. I would yield to anyone with actual snow-towing experience as to the wisdom of this suggestion.
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Old 01-09-2022, 11:01 AM   #12
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I-10 is a good idea in the later spring.
You probably don't realize the risk involved with towing in the snow.
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Old 01-09-2022, 01:05 PM   #13
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I-10 is a good idea in the later spring.
You probably don't realize the risk involved with towing in the snow.
I do. It was my intent to avoid it if at all possible.
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Old 01-09-2022, 01:09 PM   #14
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Rule 1: With the flexibility of your schedule it is likely that you'll be able to make the best possible decision regarding towing in snow...Don't Do It. Wait for it to melt. (My TT chains are 7 years old and, thankfully, still brand new. I live in the Pacific NW and we camp all winter, but so far I've been able to live according to this rule. We had to cancel our traditional New Years Eve campout with friends at the ocean this year to comply with Rule 1.)

Rule 2: In case you should get caught on the road in a snowstorm with no place to wait it out, make sure you have new chains that fit both your TV AND TT. Practice putting them on in decent weather so you can be better ready for putting them on during the storm.

Suggestion 3: If I ever need to put my chains on I plan to increase my trailer brake gain one setting to make sure the TT brakes come on slightly ahead of the TV brakes. My theory is that there will be less chance of jackknifing if the TT brakes come on first. I would yield to anyone with actual snow-towing experience as to the wisdom of this suggestion.
I plan to carry chains for my TV and trailer with the intent of avoiding the need to use them.
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Old 01-09-2022, 01:13 PM   #15
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Stay way south of I-40 until about May ...
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Originally Posted by Rkloud9 View Post
I-10 would be my choice going West from Florida in February and March. Once you get to Texas, ...
Thank you both for your specific route suggestions.
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Old 01-11-2022, 10:11 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Cyote61 View Post
Stay way south of I-40 until about May or your going to see no flowers to speak of. But you will see wind and cold until then. My suggestion is stay no further north than I-20 and stop and see the Hill Country in Texas on I-10 around the end of March and April for flowers. Its a sight! Then head for Big Bend Park in Texas. After that head back to El Paso and travel on towards Tucson. Lots of beauty on both sides of I-10 from Silver City NM on the north side of I-10 and Bisbee, Douglas, Tombstone and Antelope Valley on the South Side of I-10. Southern Arizona is fantastic all across the Southern half of the state in the spring. If you get over to the Yuma area then turn North up the Colorado River all the way to Bullhead, Arizona before turning back to the East to Kingman AZ. Your trek back then will be run by the Weather man. I-40 should be OK and when you hit OKeY city you can catch I-44 up the Springfield MO. If you get back down towards Mountain Home, AR, heading South give me a shout, you'll be close to my place. Good luck.
This is a pretty darn good route to go. If you're there at the right time, the desert bloom is as beautiful as anything you've ever seen.
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Old 01-11-2022, 02:54 PM   #17
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... If you're there at the right time, the desert bloom is as beautiful as anything you've ever seen.
Timing is everything. We'll be in the area for awhile and are flexible as to where we go, as long as accommodations are available.

Although we have no experience with it, we are equipped for boondocking. I surmise that's easy out west, so availability of campsites may be less of a concern than it is on my side of the country.
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Old 01-11-2022, 04:01 PM   #18
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Anza-Borrego Desert wildflowers happens in March and lasts through April. Not far from Arizoina.. Hope that helped
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Old 01-11-2022, 05:18 PM   #19
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Anza-Borrego Desert wildflowers happens in March and lasts through April. Not far from Arizoina.. Hope that helped
It does.
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Old 01-19-2022, 07:32 PM   #20
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Anza Borrego flower bloom is dependent on the rains for both when it starts and how much of a bloom there is. When it's good it's great! Here's a site that might help:

https://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/ca_abdsp.html
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