Tag Archives: Sonoran Desert

Desert Rain

What I love about the Chicago suburbs is that there are forest preserves along many of the major highways. I love pulling over and taking a walk in the woods. (Not quite as much in the winter months though.)  In these months, I go looking for some green in the desert after the recent rains. In the “Valley of the Sun,” you’ll not find forest preserves, but Sonoran Desert Preserves with easy trail access. And there I found:

Grassy Desert


We were hiking in the Cave Creek Preserve area, about thirty-five miles due north of a more well-known landmark, Camelback Mountain:

Camelback in the distance

The plant in the foreground is one of my favorite in the desert. I gasped when we came around a bend and faced a field of them! (The photo doesn’t capture just how “surrounded” you feel by these interesting plants reaching skyward.)  Folks try to grow these for domestic landscape use, but they seldom seem to fare well. In the natural world after the big rain, these are looking especially lush.

Must find out what they're called

Like many varieties in the desert, they aren’t as friendly as they look though:

I’ll go back when they bloom. These will turn into what look like orange tags. They’ve got quite the flair against the green:

Quite the dramatic vegetation. Here’s another, imploring “Y!” against the bright blue sky:

Y? Because it rained! Here’s what’s left of the rain… (We’d come four days earlier and this was a running wash…it sure disappears quickly!)

Where waterfall had been!

Just a trickle remains:

Back through the wash on our way out. Most things happen slowly in the desert. Moist things disappear quickly:



Filed under AZ, Nature, Photos

Sonoran Sounds and Skyscrapers

Fall in this part of the Sonoran Desert doesn’t look terribly much different than Summer in the Sonoran Desert.  It just feeeels different.  (79 vs 110 deg. F)


October 31, 2009

In the Spring though, there’s usually some pretty good color (depending on the rainfall.)  I’ll come back to this spot in April and see what’s bloomin’.  This is where we were hiking,


the Overton (OV) to where it meets the Go John (GJ) Loop.  What you’ll see:


Looking south

Desert skyscraper

Looking up




This horse was soaked with perspiration, first day out in awhile


It's very quiet except for the sound of the wind


Did I getcha!?

Thankfully, we didn’t see any of these on the trails, but we did learn about them that day at the Nature Center.  The snake shown is a Sonoran Gopher Snake, the largest of the snakes in the desert (can grow to eight feet.)  Of course, the desert is populated with such wonderful creatures and critters but I’d rather not run into them, personally.  One of my other personal favorites is:


The Gila Monster (protected species)

Yes, he had a rattler (Western Diamondback Rattlesnake) too who did not! come out of the enclosure.  It did rattle away though & that, I will say, is a spine-tingling  sound (top middle). I’m sure that it doesn’t help I have insanely good high-frequency hearing.

I’ve been around the desert 15 years now and never have heard nor seen one at large!  In Sedona once, I saw woman all bloody-on her leg, running out from a trailhead, saying “Rattlesnake.”  Turns out, she wasn’t bloody because it bit her, but because she’d fallen down running from it.  (The “official” advice is: if you hear the rattle.  Freeze.  Look around. Once you see where it is, back away slowly.)

OK, but back to quickly finish up the hike:


Sun disappearing


If you look closely, you can always find a little color

And when the day is nearing its end, some hit the road:


While others hit the trail:


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Filed under AZ, Fall, Photos