Put the Petal to the Nettle

At the T-intersection, follow the signs (and the gravel road) to the Forked Pine Campground on the east side of Ashurst Lake. Like nearby Mormon Lake, this body of water is one of the few naturally occurring lakes within Arizona. Typically full year-round, the lake is the ideal environment for water-loving water knotweed, which sprouts its pink, cylindrical bloom along the eastern and southern shoreline. Park at the southernmost end of the campground and pay the required daily fee before seeking the colorful spectacles of summer along the rocky shore.
 
Gardens Galore
Once you’ve had your fill of flowers here, head back to Lake Mary Road and proceed north toward Flagstaff. Turn right onto Beulah Boulevard and then make an immediate left onto South Woodlands Village Boulevard. Turn left onto historic Route 66, drive 1.2 miles, and then make another left turn onto South Woody Mountain Road. Proceed 3.7 miles (the last 2.8 miles of which are unpaved and somewhat bumpy but still easily passable in all vehicles) to arrive at the entrance to The Arboretum at Flagstaff. Guests must pay an entrance fee before entering the grounds.
 
Though seasonal blooms pop up along many of the trails found within “America’s Mountain Garden,” a stroll through the Wildflower Garden, Penstemon Garden, Pollinator Garden, and Sunflower Maze will not disappoint even the most discriminating flower followers. Vibrant wildflowers common at this higher elevation, such as desert paintbrush, fireweed, blue flax, and Rocky Mountain columbine, offer reliable color from year to year (even when Mother Nature has not produced enough rain for a notable bloom), thanks to consistent watering by the staff. 
 
After exploring the 200 acres of visual delight beneath towering ponderosa pines, conclude your flower-filled day at Arizona Snowbowl. Better known for its winter skiing, the resort area brings an artist’s palette of colors to the western flanks of the majestic San Francisco Peaks in the summer.  
 
To reach your final destination, return to Flagstaff and follow U.S. Route 180 on the northeast side of town toward Arizona Snowbowl. Turn right onto Snowbowl Road and drive the winding 7 miles to the lower dirt parking lot. Join the Humphreys Trail on the north end of the parking area, where a short stroll leads to a tree-lined open meadow teeming with Indian paintbrush, Hill’s lupine, larkspur, and golden Western sneezeweed. Time your visit to coincide with the sunset to celebrate the end of your magical day.

 
COLLEEN MINIUK-SPERRY is the co-author and co-photographer of the award-winning guidebook Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, & How.

 
For More Information
To learn about other Arizona trips, visit AAA.com or call your local AAA Travel professional toll-free at 1-888-870-9392.
Upper Lake Mary is the largest of Flagstaff’s twin lakes and is located in Coconino National Forest
Upper Lake Mary is the largest of Flagstaff’s twin lakes and is located in Coconino National Forest
If You Go
While enjoying this 80-mile road trip, practice “Leave No Trace” principles (e.g., do not pick or trample flowers) so others may see and enjoy these locations as well. Remember to pack rain gear in case of a passing monsoon storm.
 
4110 S. Woody Mountain Road 
928-774-1442
 
9300 N. Snowbowl Road
928-779-1951
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