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Joshua Tree's wildflowers are just starting to bloom. Here are tours that will take you there

Things are slowly starting to bloom at lower elevations around Joshua Tree National Park. The namesake trees are beginning to show their creamy white blooms at the park’s west entrance and outside the park’s southern border.

“On Saturday, I saw the beginnings of the wildflower bloom, including Arizona lupine, brown-eyed primrose, forget-me-nots and poppies,” Kevin Wong, program coordinator for Joshua Tree National Park Assn.’s Desert Institute, writes in an email.

Brittlebush, an exuberant yellow shrub, popped up along roadsides, and green ocotillos were getting ready to burst with red-tipped blooms. 

“Main color out there right now is yellow,” national park spokesman George Land says in an email. Earlier this week, the low, flat Pinto Basin was showing bladder pod, forget-me-nots and globe mallow. Wildflowers were starting to come up at Mastodon Peak, Cottonwood Springs and Cottonwood Canyon. 

Mid-March to early April may be the best time to see wildflowers at their peak, Wong says — if nature cooperates. A cold snap or searing heat could change everything, freezing or burning plants just when they’re ready to bloom.

It’s a short window period, and you should plan ahead if you want to go. 

Two new wildflower photography tours are offered by the Desert Institute this year. Photographer Scott Schwartz shows you how to take the most stunning photos of what you see on the desert floor. The tour starts with an 8:30 a.m. class, and the rest of the day is spent in the field shooting flowers. You can sign up online for tours held March 19 and April 9; price is $70 per person.

Or you can take the Big Bloom bus tour on April 1 that visits the national park and other desert spots. Tours run 9 to 11 a.m. from Yucca Valley, noon to 2:30 from Joshua Tree and 3:15 to 5:45 p.m. from Twentynine Palms. Cost is $37 per person. You can purchase tickets online at the Big Bloom’s event page.

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