March 20, 2017

March 22, 2017 Posted by: Neil Frakes
Add your observations and photos of wildflowers to the Joshua Tree National Park Wildflower Watch project using iNaturalist.

Currently the best blooms are happening at the lower elevations in locations such as Wilson Canyon and the Pinto Basin. The color show is moderately spectacular. Unusually high temperatures following a cool wet winter have caused some plants to dry out quickly, but good color shows are still happening. Please avoid trampling vegetation so that these native annual species can successfully reproduce, and so that other visitors can enjoy witnessing the bloom too!
groups of yellow flowers grow under a blue sky
Yellowcups in Wilson Canyon are turning the slopes a bright yellow color. Photo: NPS / Neil Frakes

Wilson Canyon

Perhaps the best area to currently view wildflowers is Wilson Canyon, south of White Tank Campground and north of the Cholla Cactus Garden. There are limited pullouts for parking along Pinto Basin Road. The slopes of the side canyons are turning yellow with yellowcups (Chylismia brevipes). Other common wildflower species in Wilson Canyon include browneyes (Chylismia claviformis), purple mat (Nama demissa), sand blazingstar (Mentzelia involucrata), desert chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana) and phacelia (Phacelia spp.)

a pale white flower with a pinkish center grows in gravel  tiny purple flowers grow on the ground's surface
Sand blazingstar (top) and purple mat (bottom) are some of the showy flowers found in Wilson Canyon. Photos: NPS / Neil Frakes

Pinto Basin

The massive valley in the center of the park, called Pinto Basin, is currently another good location for wildflower viewing. In between the creosote bushes you will find a carpet of cream colored flowers called browneyes (Chylismia claviformis). If you are looking closely, you might spot a desert lily (Hesperocallis undulata) or the magenta flowers of sand verbena (Abronia villosa). Desert gold (Geraea canescens) makes a yellow carpet in some areas, as do poppies. Phacelia adds some purple to the mix. The beavertail cacti (Opuntia basilaris) are also blooming. Desert star (Monoptilon belliodes) is common. Look for desert five spots (Eremalche rotundifolia). Try stopping for a walkabout from Turkey Flats or Porcupine Wash. You may see evening primrose (Oenothera spp) in sandy areas. If you are prepared with plenty of water, and have four-wheel drive, check out the Black Eagle Mine Road for some good wildflower blooms. The poppies are abundant a short distance down this sandy dirt road from the paved Pinto Basin Rd.
white flowers with long petals grow from the top of talk stalks under blue sky small white flowers with yellow centers growing low to the ground
Desert lily (top) and Desert star (bottom) are some of the highlights in the Pinto Basin. Photos: NPS / Neil Frakes

Cottonwood Springs

There is a widespread bloom along the trail to Mastodon Peak. Poppies and Canterbury Bells (Phacelia campanularia) are common. Also look for budding Ocotillos, and flowering Chia (Salvia columbariae) and Mojave aster (Xylorhiza tortifolia).

groups of purple flowers grow at the end of branching stalks on a gravel slope flat pale green cactus paddles topped with intense pink blossoms under a blue sky
Phacelias (top) add purple, and  beavertail cactus (bottom) have bright magenta flowers. Photos: NPS / Neil Frakes
small globe-like pink flower with 5 dark red spots visible inside the flower a white flower with large, flat petals and yellow stamen grow in a group low to the ground
Desert five spot (top) and evening primrose (bottom) are some of the gems in the Pinto Basin. Photos: NPS / Neil Frakes

Joshua Trees and Mojave Yuccas

Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) are flowering throughout the areas in which they grow within the park. Some of the hot spots include just inside the Joshua Tree Entrance Station, and near the intersection of Park Blvd and Pinto Basin Road. Mojave yuccas (Yucca schidigera) have also started to flower. Some of the best spots for viewing include just inside the Twentynine Palms Entrance, and Wilson Canyon.
a tall stalk covered in thick, cream-colored flowers extend over a base of upturned green spiked yucca leaves
Mojave yucca bloom. Photo: NPS / Neil Frakes

close up photo of thick popcorn-like, cream-colored flowers sitting atop thin green spikes leaves
Joshua tree blossom. Photo: Sam King

wildflower, wildflowers, cactus, Joshua tree, iNaturalist, primrose, yellowcups, desert five spot, sand blazingstar

Last updated: March 22, 2017

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


760 367-5500

Contact Us