On the scale of “things that make me happy,” wildflowers are up there – hovering somewhere between waterfalls and golden autumn leaves.
On that mostly-sunny Saturday, you would have been hard-pressed to find a frowning face. As I hiked the lakeside Jojoba Trail, and then drove along the North Lake Road, I was tickled by the crowds of bloom peepers – young and old – frolicking and posing for photos alongside the fields of blooms.
It turns out I wasn’t exactly a trailblazer. Photos of Bartlett Lake’s gorgeous yellow-gold Mexican poppies had been popping up on Instagram and Twitter for more than a week, and I couldn’t resist. I decided to follow the crowd. And sometimes the crowd is right!
I simply loved the explosion of colors. In every direction, it seemed, were more flowers, stretching off into the distance. I happily joined the camera-clad crowds.
There really is no need to venture far off the road for the best show. The roadsides offer some of the prime viewing spots. My first stop was Rattlesnake Cove. Luckily, it turned out to be more floral that reptilian.
Next, I headed toward Bartlett Flat, where the saguaro, ocotillo, and cholla cacti accentuated the carpet of purples, yellows, oranges, and whites.
It wasn’t hiking that attracted me to Bartlett Lake, but once I was there, I decided to check out the trail located directly off the marina parking lot.
The Jojoba Trail turned out to be a great choice – not just for its stellar views of the sparkling Bartlett Lake reservoir, but also for the diverse desert landscape.
Winding past lake coves and rocky ridges, the 2.6-mile out-and-back trail is bordered by saguaro cactus, mesquite, palo verde and ironwood trees.
Oh, and more wildflowers.
Even though they aren’t the main attraction, wildflowers offer colorful accents along the trail.
Wildflowers are scarce and fleeting in the arid desert, so I say seek them out when you can.
This year is being billed as one of Arizona’s best wildflower seasons in years – thanks to well-timed rainstorms and snowstorms in the fall of 2018 and early-winter 2019.
Bartlett Lake is located on the Tonto National Forest near Scottsdale, Arizona, and is being termed one of the best locations to view the 2019 wildflower super bloom in the Valley of the Sun.
Bartlett dates back to 1939, when the Verde River was dammed to form the reservoir. Today, the lake consists of 2,815 acres of water surface and is popular for boating, kayaking, fishing, hiking, camping, and picnicking.
The lake is served by the Bartlett Lake Marina, which includes a general store and The Last Stop Bar & Grill.
Lake visitors must have an $8 park pass for access to any of the recreational sites on the lake. The passes are available for purchase at the marina.
The reservoir is 20 miles east of Carefree, Arizona. From Carefree, take the Cave Creek Road/Forest Road (FR) 24 to the Bartlett Road/FR 19 junction. Turn right on this paved highway; it is 13 miles to the reservoir.