Desert Wildflowers

Winter has flown by and spring is fast approaching! Photographers are rejoicing as they prepare for the spring wildflowers in the Sonoran desert of Arizona! Many people don’t think of the desert as a place to witness the beauty of flowers, but it’s actually one of the most picturesque and satisfying sightseeing opportunities in the southwest! There are a handful of locations where wildflower viewing is prime; So, grab your macro lens and tripod, hop in the car, and start with Superstition Mountain!


Tonto National Forest is home to some incredible flower species, from Mexican Poppies to Mojave Lupines to Apache Plumes. The Lost Dutchman State Park, about 40 miles outside of Phoenix, begins several hikes into the “forest” for limitless opportunities for photographing these colorful desert gems! The Native Plant Trail is an easy hike for optimal viewing, with the jagged peaks of Superstition Mountain in the background.Wildflowers,_Boyce_Thompson_Arboretum

Make sure you visit the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, the oldest and largest botanical garden in Arizona. Located in Superior, AZ, the gardens are meticulously kept and offer guided wildflower walks. Here you will see Elderberries, marigolds, London rockets, and purple bladderpods, just to name a few. Desert wishbones and golden wallflowers welcome visitors in March and April, when the spring bloom is in full effect.


The Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix is a also must-see for the springtime flora and fauna of the blooming desert! The ground are extremely well-kept and visitors will enjoy a bounty of floral and plant varieties. Plan to spend at least two hours witnessing Mother Nature display her colorful majesty! These are just some of the fantastic viewing locations for wildflowers in the Phoenix metro area. Don’t forget that Flagstaff and Tucson have spring wildflowers, as well. Blooms occur in Spring and Summer.  Our severe winter drought will influence our wildflower expectancy this spring, but reports are nevertheless showing beautiful floral displays. March and April are peak for spring wildflowers, so grab your camera, get in your car and witness the spectacle that is DESERT WILDFLOWERS!



Robson’s Ranch and Mining Town



Robson’s Ranch and Mining Camp, one of Arizona’s oldest and best-preserved mining claims, is located just 20 miles outside the historic town of Wickenburg, AZ.  Surrounded by the dense Saguaro cacti forests of the famed Sonoran Desert, this fascinating Western town will make you feel as though you’ve traveled back in time! Robson’s Ranch captures the essence of the early 1900’s, exhibiting the history of what was once a functioning mining camp for prospectors and businessmen.  Artifacts from this time period are showcased here in the LARGEST collection of antique mining equipment in Arizona! You will also enjoy the old barbershop, opera house, ice-cream parlor, post office, grocery store and assay office, all of which are filled to the brim with antiques!

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The Wesley Rush family first operated what was then called the Gold Leaf Mine. In 1924, Ned Creighton took over the mine and renamed it the Nella-Meda Mine in honor of the Rush daughters. The mine continued on operating for 18 years until the U.S. Government closed down all gold mines. Harold Mason, the mine engineer and caretaker, eventually took over the property until his death in 1979, when Charles and Jeri Robson restored several of the buildings and added additional features. In 2009, Western Destinations acquired the property and spent the time needed to make the ranch fit for tours and sightseeing.

DETOURS will be offering tours to this fantastic ranch including a stop at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, “Arizona’s Most Western Museum”, in Wickenburg, AZ, which features over 400 paintings, drawings, etchings, lithographs and sculptures of Western art. Once at Robson’s Ranch, our guests will enjoy a cowboy cookout lunch, gold panning and a range of cowboy games, from pistol shootin’, tomahawk chuckin’ and rope tossin’ to a jailhouse quick draw, bow and arrow bonanza and horseshoes! Perfect for all ages, Robson’s Ranch and Mining Camp will undoubtedly provide that western experience that many visitors crave when traveling through Arizona.


Detours of Arizona


Skiing in Arizona?

Ask anybody what they picture when they think of Arizona and they will likely say, “A cactus”. Either that, or the Grand Canyon. But many people don’t realize that Arizona is home to some beautiful alpine regions. You can start your day in Phoenix, where it’s 72 degrees and sunny, and travel 2 hours only to be in powdery, snowy bliss. In Flagstaff, all the winter fun takes place at Snowbowl, 7 miles north of the city, nestled among the San Fransisco Peaks. Sitting at 9,200 feet and receiving an average annual snowfall of 260 feet, Snowbowl has a 2,300 foot drop, the largest in Arizona. During the summer, Snowbowl stays active offering scenic skyrides on the chairlifts, disc golf, and amazing hiking trails.  But during winter, Snowbowl becomes a hotspot to all the skiers and snowboarders in Arizona!


Another popular destination in Arizona for winter sports is Sunrise Park, near Greer, which is actually the largest ski area in Arizona. Located in the White Mountains about 4 hours from Phoenix, Sunrise offers 65 runs with 8 ski lifts, covering 3 mountains. Additionally, there are over 13 miles of trails for cross-country skiing. Sunrise Park sits at 9,200 feet and tops out at 11,100 feet, on Apache Peak.  Home to Arizona’s 2nd highest drop, at 1,800 feet, Sunrise Park covers 800 acres  and lies right near the border of New Mexico. Although not right around the corner from Phoenix or Tucson, this alpine region still attracts many visitors with it’s reasonable prices and ability to accommodate all skill levels.


What most people don’t know is that you can actually ski in Tucson! Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is the southernmost ski resort in the United States, located in the beautiful Catalina Mountains. The summit is almost 9,200 feet and receives 180 inches of snowfall annually. In this area, winter storms are frequent, which leaves highly desirable untouched powder. What’s so neat about skiiing Mt. Lemmon is that the temperatures are usually between 20-50 degrees Fahrenheit, so feel free to ski in jeans and a sweater. With 22 trails spanning over 200 acres, Mt. Lemmon is a hidden gem that gives Tucson that added touch of specialness!


In conclusion, come to Arizona for the warm weather but don’t forget to bring your skis! This amazing state has such a variety of activities to offer, making it a top destination for winter travelers. From skiing in Tucson, to golfing and swimming in Phoenix, to snowboarding in Flagstaff and cross-country skiing near Sunrise, plan to spend at least one week taking in all that is the incredible state of Arizona.

Fall Folliage Frenzy!

          Fall is the time of year that all Arizonians look forward to!  The summer heat is fading, allowing for cool nights and crisp mornings to welcome the fall season into it’s full bloom.  Coconino National Forest, in Northern Arizona, gifts us with rainbows of autumn leaves, from amber Aspens to fuschia Maples to ravishing red Sumacs. There are several ideal viewing locations for fall colors in this region, all of which have their own uniqueness and splendor.  Popular scenic drives in Flagstaff include Hart Prairie, Lockett Meadow, and Shultz Pass Rd. Hiking anywhere among the San Fransisco Peaks will afford awe-inspiring views of alpine foliage.  More specifically, Aspen Loop Trail and Humphrey’s Trail are two hikes that will surround you with nature’s bounty of flora.  Don’t forget to check out the Arboretum of Flagstaff, where you can view a variety of tree species dressed up in their colorful armor.  The autumn leaves first change in the high country and then make their way down into the lower country a few weeks later, so if you missed your chance to see the colors in Flagstaff, you still can enjoy the charm and majesty of the fall colors in Sedona!  The most popular way to see the changing colors in Sedona is to drive along the famous 89A highway, through Oak Creek Canyon.  This drive is beautiful all year long, but becomes a photographer’s dream during fall.  West Fork Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the U.S. and is definitely a top pick for viewing fall colors in Sedona.  Although Detours offers our classic Sedona tours, we also offer custom Fall Foliage tours throughout the state and the entire Southwest, so let us show you the natural magnificence that attracts so many nature lovers to our little slice of heaven! 


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Mural Hunting

Along a dingy alley lays an empty wall, nothing more to the untrained eye.  However for the artists of Arizona, it is another blank canvas waiting for a story to be painted.  All throughout Downtown Phoenix, you will find large mural pieces depicting local culture and current issues.  New murals popping up along sides of buildings and alleys all over the city are transforming Downtown Phoenix in a destination hot spot.  Joe Pagac is one of the artists that grace Phoenix with his talents.  Each First Friday for art walk, Joe creates a new master piece alongside the Eye Lounge.  Joe can be seen creating these murals in person each month. The wall murals provide a larger outlet for local artists and help brighten the city up.


While many of Joe’s pieces are whimsical, other artists take a more serious point of view and paint about issues that are taking place in Arizona.  “Water is Life” portrays the water needs of Arizona and where our water comes from and what it is used for. Other murals around the city touch base on other local issues such as SB 1070. These murals bring awareness to the issue from an artist’s point of view, grabbing the attention of passersby who wouldn’t normally look into the issue. The artists find the beauty in issues that are often difficult to speak about with words alone and through the use of colors and shapes, they can express themselves and evoke others to as well.


The beautiful murals are bringing life back into Downtown Phoenix.  They have become treasure hunt as they are consider  hidden treasures with many created in alleys and on the sides of building, waiting to be stumbled upon.  You never know when and where you will be when you discover a new mural.  Detours of Arizona can help with your mural hunt when you join their Scottsdale/Phoenix city Highlights tour. Let our guides take you through the city and show you all of the hidden secrets and treasures just waiting to be found.

Helldorados Here Again!

El Dorado: a place of great abundance with untold riches. During the 1800’s many journeyed to Tombstone Arizona in search of great fortunes and untold riches. The discovery of silver ore in the mines brought prospectors and business men from all over to the new frontier. During this period, Tombstone became a prosperous town with the success of the silver mines and was El Dorado.Image

Over a short period of time, the town began to deteriorate with silver prices dropping and frequent fires ravishing the town, leading to the closure of the mines. Tombstone had turned from a once flourishing town to a desolate ghost town. One disgruntled miner had had enough and wrote to the local paper that Tombstone wasn’t El Dorado, but more like Helldorado.  Stating that instead of finding riches, they found jobs washing dishes and other menial positions, the name stuck marking the beginning of Helldorado Days.

Helldorado Days would soon become reason for celebration, when in 1929, the first festival began.  The celebrations of Helldorado brought new life to the ghost town and with it came tourism. The town of Tombstone has been celebrating the anniversary of Helldorado for 82 years.  Every 3rd week in October, the town of Tombstone comes together to celebrate Helldorado Days.  During the 3 day celebration, you can walk the streets of Tombstone and get an ideal of life in the old wild-west.  The celebrations consist of gunfight re-enactment shows, street entertainment, fashion shows and a family oriented carnival.  This October will mark the 83rd anniversary. Walk the streets of Tombstone this October 18th-20th with Detours of Arizona and learn all about the “Town Too Tough to Die”.

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Desert Oasis: Beat the heat

Remember back to when you were little, and cartoons would depict the desert as vast dry flat lands?  Many of the characters would start to imagine a beautiful desert oasis with endless water and a cooling breeze, only for that to be dashed by the reality of sand and cactus surroundings. That is the illustration that comes to mind for most when they think of the state Arizona, however unbeknownst to many, Arizona has its share of hidden desert oases flowing with water to keep you cool during the rising summer heat.

Tucked away in the canyons of Sedona, among the apple orchards is where you will find our first hidden treasure. A natural water slide, formed over millions of years by flowing waters created today’s smooth water chutes used for riding.  Slide rock has provided a cooling and exhilarating escape since 1912, when Frank L. Pendley acquired the land and began irrigating for his apple orchard.  With the addition of tourist cabins in 1933, the small swimming hole grew to popularity.  Stunning surroundings and refreshingly cool water draw visitors during the summer for a great escape from the heat.  Make Slide Rock a must do on your bucket list.

ImageHowever, Slide rock is just one among many hidden gems in Arizona.  Travel to the town of Strawberry, AZ and you will not only find a swimming hole and creek, but an exquisite waterfall cascading into clear blue waters. Fossil creeks is a breathtaking site that is a true local treasure allowing visitors to wade, swim, float, kayak, and snorkel in its luminous waters.  If adventure and excitement is what you are looking for, then Fossil Creek is the place to be.  Visitors can enjoy a brisk jump into the deep invigorating waters or slide down the waterfall to emerge into the falling waters overhead.

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Many people have a misconception of what Arizona is really like. Whether you choose Slide Rock or Fossil Creek, you are sure to have a lasting impression of the beautiful oases found in Arizona.  At Detours of Arizona we strive to show you the hidden treasures within.  You don’t have to go too far to find these alluring oases, let Detours show you the way.