The month of May marks a fantastic change in the plant life at Dead Horse Point State Park. Despite the dry winter, the plants are returning with brilliant color. This is an excellent month for photographers, artists or anyone interested in desert flowers to visit the park. The variety of colors found right at the trails’ edge is enough to entice anyone to hike a bit further. The deciduous trees and shrubs of the park have awakened from their winter slumber and are bringing lush green tones and lively zest to the red rock landscape. Hikers are sure to be pleased by the sweet fragrance drifting from flowering shrubs.
The blossoming of cacti is an event not to be missed. For a brief time of the year these spiny desert icons turn into splashes of color on the landscape. Be it a prickly pear, claret cup or fishhook, each cactus brings their own significant flower to the mix. The prickly pear, the most common cactus in the park, is known for large flowers of yellow, pink and orange. The claret cup grows in a clustered mound spotted with fiery red flowers that have a golden base. The bright red flowers of the claret cup make the sparsely distributed cactus much easier to spot. The least common cactus in the park is the fishhook. Unlike the claret cup, the barrel shaped fishhook usual grows individually, and is worth hiking the extra mile to spot one. The top of the cactus is adorned with a crown of delicate purple flowers. Native plant gardens surround the Dead Horse Point Visitor Center for those visitors without time to hike the trails.
Adding to the visual splendor of blooming cactus and wildflowers is the fragrance of the Fremont’s mahonia and cliffrose. The flowers of both shrubs have a sweet smell that will usually reach a hikers’ nose before the shrub catches their eye. The sweet honey like fragrance of the mahonia’s golden flowers attracts bees as well as hikers. The scent of the white cliffrose flower is a favorite to many. Fortunately, these shrubs can be found on trails throughout the park and outside the visitor center.
May is an excellent time of year to visit a park. Even if you miss the blooming plants, the weather is ideal for outdoor activities. Pack a picnic, sturdy shoes and a camera, and head up to Dead Horse Point State Park for a wonderful spring afternoon.