While the Olympics were winding down this last weekend in London, the heat was on the rise in Arizona and the southwest. In fact, it seemed the entire country was broiling with record-breaking temperatures. Phoenix was topping out at over 115 degrees!
My husband and I decided to do our own “race for the gold” by heading to the White Mountains of northeastern Arizona to cool off. Instead of metal, our gold came in the form of sunflowers and other golden flowers that dot the hillsides and meadows at the end of summer. Even in the scorching heat, once you see the beautiful wildflowers in the mountains, you know that autumn—and relief from the heat—is on the way. We were not disappointed. The wildflowers were amazing! Not only did we see all shades of yellow and gold, but there were reds, purples, blues, oranges, whites, lavenders, and more. The fields were green from the recent monsoon storms, and everything looked fresh and alive.
The area we visited was burned by last year’s Wallow Fire. The Wallow Fire, named for the Bear Wallow Wilderness where it originated, was started by an abandoned campfire and burned about 841 square miles. As of this point, it is the largest wildfire in Arizona’s history, bypassing the Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002. As you can imagine, it was devastating to the communities of this gorgeous mountainous corner of the state which rely on summer tourism for much of their livelihood. It continues to impact them today. But I can tell you from our numerous visits this summer that the fire did not “take out” the forests! Wildfires don’t tend to wipe out an area; they touch down here and there. You’ll find a section of burned area next to large sections of a very much alive forest. And we are finding that many of the burned areas are covered in growth and lots of wildflowers! The White Mountains are beautiful and there is so much to see and do here. And the monsoon storms have been pure magic!
Here are just some of the flowers that we saw just this last weekend alone!