Desert Wildflowers: Part 1 Amboy Crater

Wildflower hunting in the desert. Dust. Heat. Color. Life! I’ve been wanting to see the desert bloom for a long time. We usually head into the desert in the fall or winter. So when my partner and I realized we had time in our schedule to duck out for a long weekend and the blooms were starting to happen, well beastie truck practically packed itself.


Our first hunting expedition led us through Amboy, California which is a 1950s ghost town with one gas station and Roy’s - a motel ala museum complete with a canonical sign. We topped off Beastie’s tank while I took in the still-as-it-was motel lobby complete with a small carousel horse and a 1950s couch. Oh my such delights!


From there we drove a short distance to Amboy Crater which was in full bloom. I fell in love with wildflower hunting with my first step on the trail and the joy of finding beauty hidden where you least expect it. Seeing the scrubby, grey, dried out creosote bushes of fall and winter transform into green leaves and yellow blossoms which litter the sands around the plant with little golden petals.


Finding fast moving many legged beetles with an odd sort of iridescent shell until I suddenly realize they are covered in pollen and thats why they look like that. Coming around a corner and sending a lizard flying with its tail curled way up in the air. Then watching as it stops and checks me out. Then look out, there are two of them racing down the trail!

Peeking carefully under and around the bushes to find green grass mixed with little fiddleback sorts of flowers that come in yellow or white or blue depending on where you find them. Always keeping an eye out for snakes. Dancing as I walk on the earth trying to avoid tiny yellow daisy flowers while enjoying them out at the same time.


We hiked towards the crater wandering with lots of stops on the way. It was very hot and little shade and I am not one to perch in the desert sun without serious wilting. Thank goodness there was a breeze and a couple of shade stations to sit in out of the sun. As it was, I did get overheated by the end of it.


That said, I did a number of little sketches of flowers and a couple of larger watercolors attempting to capture the lovely fields against the mountains and sky and clouds while the man wandered about with his camera. The fields were golden yellow against the greenery and the mountains with groupings of white and purple and pink scattered about.

The fields were alive with critters happily doing their thing. Ravens talking to us. Lizards. Beetles. Birds. Lots of bees and insects flying about. People have said you can’t really understand how much the desert comes alive after the rains until you see it transform and they are right. It’s as if a light switch was turned on and suddenly everyone is dancing and growing and blooming. 

My flickr album is here.

Next stop: Mojave Preserve