Explore Arizona | Sonoran Desert Hidden Gems

Planning a trip to the Sonoran Desert? Check out some of these hidden gems that may make your scenic drive through Arizona extra memorable (and you'll leave with great photos of the desert!)

Desert Greenhouses and Nurseries (all across the Sonoran Desert)

If you really love cactuses and desert plants, you will want to check out some of the public greenhouses and plant nurseries in and around the Sonoran desert. Visiting a greenhouse is a wonderful way to get an overall idea of what kind of plants inhabit the area. If you're interested in learning more about cacti in general, visiting a cacti nursery or greenhouse is a great way to learn more about them (and you may even find a small cactus you can take home with you!) 

Miscellaneous Spur of the Moment Photo Opportunities

Some of my favorite photos from driving scenic routes have come from spur of the moment photographs I took just when I pulled off onto the side of the road. When my mom and I drove through the Sonoran desert together last week while she was visiting us, some of our favorite moments came from seeing something that quickly caught our eye and jumping out of our car to see it and photograph it. 

My favorite thing about the desert is our sunsets. Arizona sunsets are undoubtedly bright, vibrant, colorful, and full of life! If you're looking for a photo idea, try photographing some of the natural Sonoran desert plant life with the sunset in the background. My go-to photo I love to take during a sunset is either with a cactus or a grouping of palm trees; the juxtaposition between the bright and vibrant sunset and the darkness of the plants photographs incredibly!

Arizona Wineries (in and around Tucson, Arizona)

Wineries from Arizona are becoming well-recognized in the wine world. I recently had the opportunity to attend a wine tasting in Scottsdale with some experts, and I learned that within the last few years alone Arizona has made its mark on the wine community. You can sample some of Arizona's wine as you make your way through the Sonoran Desert!

Some wineries to check out in and around the Tucson area include Bear Track Winery, Dos Cabezas, Lightning Ridge Cellars, Canelo Hills, Callaghan Vineyards, and more.

Joshua Tree Scenic Road (Wickenburg, Arizona)

Joshua trees are some of the more distinguished and recognizable plants of the Sonoran Desert. You may have heard of the ever popular Joshua Tree National Park, but you don't have to travel to Southern California to check out these unique trees. Take a scenic drive through the Sonoran Desert right in Arizona and see large groups of Joshua trees together. 

Drive this scenic Arizona road: you'll want to drive Route 93 North in Arizona to see the Joshua trees. The trees will be found on the road between Wickenburg and Wikieup (AZ).

Start your journey in Wickenburg, Arizona. You can set your GPS to the Chamber of Commerce in Wickenburg if you like--this is where my mom and I stopped to talk to a local to double check we had the correct route before driving into the desert. Drive about 30 miles North on 93 from Wickenburg and you will start to see some Joshua trees scattered. If you continue to drive another 30 miles North toward Wikieup, you will see more and more trees together. These make for an amazing photo opp! We urge you to be careful when you pull off of the side of the road to take photos--it is a 2 lane highway and cars do drive very fast.

Flower Shops

Just like with desert greenhouses and nurseries, another hidden gem is the overwhelming amount of vibrant, local floral shops in and surrounding the Sonoran desert. If you're after those beautiful cactus pictures that only National Geographic photographers can seem to get--head to the place where the plants are nurtured to look their best: flower shops! 

HINT: You can keep an eye out on the flowering trends on the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum website, so you can see what will be blooming during what time you are visiting the Sonoran desert. 

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