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Chasing Sun on Desert Hikes

Posted by Lauren Braden at Apr 23, 2012 01:47 PM |

"After a long, cold winter, we were looking for some heat and sun." So begins a weekend trip report on a hike up Black Canyon by cjamiller. And so begins the spring desert hiking season.

Indeed, I completely relate. Bring on the sunshine!

Unfortunately, I think the window of perfect desert hiking is far too short. Plan your desert hiking for the next four weeks. By late May, the flowers will have peaked and the birds will have quieted down. Come June, the relentless sunshine makes it too hot to hike (for most of us, anyway).

Right now, sunshine is warming up the days rather reliably, but only the earliest of the wildflowers are showing their stuff. Sagebrush violets are blooming now at Snow Mountain Ranch, along with cushion phlox and desert parsley. Lupine is appearing on the lower trail on Baldy. You'll find blooming Hooker's Balsamroot at Frenchman Coulee.

But as tuoichen says of a hike at Steamboat Rock, it is still "too early for the typical Eastern Washington wildflowers." Nevertheless, the hikers spotted "yellow bells, shooting stars, something like dwarf mountain blue bells, violets and more."

Some early migrants have surfaced, too. There are bluebirds at Black Canyon. Warblers and flycatchers will arrive in May. 

The sun is here, and the desert is coming back to life. Don't miss it.