Peachville Mountain Wildflower Update -- March 2, 2015

Please note that PHOTOS ON THIS PAGE WERE POSTED IN 2012 -- but the good news is that this region does have hillside patches of Mexican Goldpoppies again this year, and with Lupines ready-to-bloom by mid-March. Arboretum Wildflower guide Cass Blodgett made a "flower recon" scouting trip Sunday March 1 and found scattered goldpoppies on northeast-facing hillsides near the Silver King Mine.

In past years these hills still had massive and beautiful swaths of goldpoppies; this year the hillsides have been grazed by cattle and flowers are fewer -- though recent rains March 2 should invigorate plants and spark more color. Lupines should cover interior hillsides by mid-March, along with red maids, desert chicory, and phacelia. More good news: the Forest Service Road that accesses this area was graded recently, and is much improved from conditions in 2012.
Photos posted here were all taken in foothills of Peachville Mountain located four miles north of the Arboretum in the Tonto National Forest, and easily accessed off the Silver King Mine Road, also known as Forest Road 229 -- only a 20-minute drive north after turngin off highway 60. When this region was at peak color during February 2012 drivers could easily see the goldpoppy-covered hillsides of Peachville Mountain easily visible by looking north across Highway 60 towards the horizon four miles north at Peachville and Montana Mountains, which sported thousands of acres of golden hillsides and slopes.

Spring color is off to a great start - drivers eastbound through Gold Canyon and towards Superior and Globe can photograph brittlebush, lupines, globemallow and and fairy duster coloring roadsides gold, blue, orange and pink; respectively.

Watch for these as you drive east of Queen Valley and up through Gonzales Pass this week. If you have a high-clearance vehicle follow directions below to explore roads leading to Peachville Mountain.

This area can be accessed by either of two well-maintained Forest Service dirt roads: Happy Camp Road, off Hewitt Station road; and also the Silver King Mine Road (FR229) which is easily accessed as a north-bound turn off highway 60 directly across from the Superior airstrip and big "Welcome to Superior" sign just east of milepost 225 on highway 60.

leaving the Arboretum, drive east on highway 60 to milepost 225, then turn left (northbound) on the unmarked dirt road you'll see directly across from the Superior airport. This is Silver King Mine Road; proceed past the industrial park at left, and then when the road forks just before the electric power substation, bear right -- staying on FR 229.
Drive on this road another few miles and watch for a wooden livestock corral at left. After this landmark, go another nine-tenths of a around the east side of the foothills of Peachville Mountain. Hike up, photograph and enjoy!

Arizona Native Plants Society Phoenix Chapter co-president Cass Blodgett made a scouting trip to Peachville Mountain in February and advises that while the Silver King Mine road which accesses this area is navigable - but make sure to bring a reliable spare tire and a working jack: a light truck with three flower photographers was pulled over and the driver changing a flat tire when Cass crossed their path.

Silver King Mine road is graded dirt. No 4WD required, but we definitely suggest a vehicle with clearance - a Jeep, SUV or light truck, minimum. Read Cass' full report – as well as BTA staff reports of wildflowers seen in Queen Creek Canyon (first-of-the-season Red Mint, Tufted Evening Primrose, Firecracker Penstemon, Deer Vetch and Rhyolite Bush) as well as here at BTA