Beavertail Prickly Pear (opuntia basilaris)

Beavertail Prickly Pear

Beavertail Prickly Pear

The Beavertail Prickly Pear cactus (opuntia basilaris) is very common in the desert south west, and would go most of the year most of the year without a second glance.  However this species of cactus exemplifies the best of what the desert has to offer in one symbol.

The Beavertail Prickly Pear grows in clumps, low to the ground and grows horizontally rather than vertically like the iconic saguaro.  The dull greenish grey leaves grows feature a complete lack of spines and a shaped which gives the plant it’s name.  The pads of this cactus lake the spines traditionally associated with cactus, but rather the pads are covered with minuscule, gray-blue bristles which feature barbed tips which easily puncture human skin.

Each spring the cactus puts on a display of wild flowers which is amazing to behold in the arid desert environments.  Typically starting the March, each cactus pad my put out several shoots which Colosseum in a burst of colors, most commonly a vibrant pink but also known to be yellow, white or rose colored.

The cactus typically grows in  rocky , sandy plains, valleys, washes & canyons  all over Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Northern Mexico.

Spreading Phlox ( Phlox diffusa )

Spreading Phlox ( Phlox diffusa ) is a perennial shrub with small needle like leaves.  This is a small white flowering plant which prefers alpine, sub-alpine environments and rocky or sandy soil.  This is a low growing plant which is commonly only two to eight inches tall.

Phlox diffusa is a small white flowering plant which prefers alpine and sub-alpine environments.

Photographed in the White Moundtains, Phlox diffusa is a small white flowering plant which prefers alpine and sub-alpine environments.

Commonly found high in the mountain and distributed in the western United States and Canada.  The five petaled flowers range from a clean white color to lavender or pink.  The blooms are typically visible from May to August.

Desert Marigolds

Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata) are an abundant and well distributed flower across the desert south west.   The bright yellow flowers first appear in bloom in early March and may bloom several more times upon subsequent rains brought in my the desert monsoons.   It is not uncommon to view the Desert Marigold display until November depending upon the conditions.  A wildly distributed flower, the elevations they may be found at range from 100 to 6500 feet above sea level and may be found from California to Texas.

Desert Marigolds

Desert Marigolds located off the Old Mojave Road.

 

Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley is a state park located in Utah.

Goblin Queen

A Goblin formed from a soft limestone, water and time offer a unique hiking experience.

Formed by water, time and a soft sandstone, erosion sculpted the limestone into unique rock formations which some have stated appears to be goblins.  Goblin Valley itself is a day use hiking area which allows one to get lost in the maze of spires and rock formations.

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Hole in the Rock

Recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, the Hole in the Rock trail is an old Mormon trail that was used to establish colonies on the east side of the Colorado River in 1979. The Hole in the Rock from which the trail is named, is a narrow canyon from the rim of the canyon down into the Colorado River Valley. This canyon provided access to the Colorado River and the much needed water require to survive in these remote locations. Months were spent widening the narrow canyon to allow “safe” passage of all the wagons and cattle.

 

Hole in the Rock Trail offers some amazing vistas, Lake Powell, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail offers some amazing vistas and Lake Powell and its tributory rivers and canyons, Lake Powell, Utah

 

The original trail was bisected when the Glen Canyon damn bottled the Colorado River and started to fill up Lake Powell in 1966. However, the Hole in the Rock Road continues to exist and allows access to the Escalante Canyon system, along with access to the Devils Garden, numerous slot canyons and lots of back country hiking and camping opportunities.

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