Far from being barren and sparse, the Sonoran Desert has a diverse array of annual wildflowers that are on display from late February through May. The 120,000-square-mile desert spans parts of Arizona, California and Mexico, but it's also possible to view the bright purples, reds and golds of native Sonoran flowers inside botanical gardens.
Try driving along US-60, where flowers bloom beside the highway, and head toward the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, just west of Superstition, where the spring wildflowers are at peak in early spring.
Or head to Phoenix, where the Desert Botanical Garden covers 50 acres with one of the best collections of desert flora in the country. The garden, which is accredited by the American Association of Museums, offers educational programming such as nature photography and guided hikes with desert naturalists.
Learn about Arizona's great wildflower hikes at PeterGreenberg.com.
Texas Hill Country
It doesn't take a florist to know the state flower of Texas is the bluebonnet. One peek at the Texas hill country reveals a landscape covered in these brilliant blue flowers. But there is also an array of other brightly colored florals scattered along the highways. The unofficial "wildflower trail" runs through the charming old German-flavored towns of Fredericksburg, Brownwood, Mason and Goldthwaite, with various festivals and fairs throughout spring and summer.
Or head straight to what is considered the world's largest working wildflower farm, just outside of Fredericksburg. Wildseed Farms features 200 acres of wildflowers from spring through fall, plus a market where visitors can pick up their own seeds, as well as a butterfly garden and an outdoor beer garden.
How "Wildflower National Park" earned its nickname