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Take a walk on the wild side

I am looking forward to spring — and probably not for the reason you might suspect.

This winter, with its abundant rain and snow, will help turn our desert into a colorful wonderland of wildflowers as the weather warms up.

For the past several years, seeing yellow, purple and white blossoms line U.S. highways 93 and 95 as I drove to assignments and around town has brought a smile to my face. This year should be no different, though my smile might be bigger because of the increased amount of flowers. The flowers are already starting to bloom in some parts of the desert southwest, and March and April are shaping up to be some of the best months to view them.

In addition to wildflowers, we should expect cacti and other succulents to bloom.

Though we were fortunate not to have wildfires in the area, like those that ravaged our California neighbors, the high heat often is necessary for seeds to germinate, according to Mark Mendelsohn, a biologist for the National Park Service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

I also recall this being true for giant sequoias, too, something I learned on one of many ranger hikes I went on in my childhood.

The combination of fire and steady winter rainfall may result in a “super bloom.” The last super bloom, in 2017, produced so many wildflowers that they could be seen from space.

Fortunately, we have to travel only a few — or a few hundred — miles to see the spectacle.

Nevada is home to 153 unique species of plants, including golden Las Vegas bearpoppies. You’ll also find varieties of asters, daisies and primroses.

Just a few miles away, in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, there are already “beautiful blooms in the Willow Beach area,” according to Christie Vanover, park spokeswoman.

In the next week or two, flowers will start blooming in the southern area of the park, including Cottonwood Cove and Katherine Landing, she said.

The park’s biologist said flowers will begin to bloom around the end of the month in the Lake Mohave area and then move north.

Nearby Death Valley National Park isn’t expecting a super bloom this year but is still expecting a stunning array of flowers at lower elevations.

From now through mid-April, the lower elevations and foothills should see an assortment of wildflowers, including desert gold, Bigelow’s monkeyflower and primrose.

From early April to early May, the flowers continue to bloom at higher elevations in the park, from about 3,000 to 5,000 feet. Among those are desert paintbrush, Mojave aster and globemallow.

Some flowers will continue to bloom through mid-July in the park’s highest elevations.

Borrego Springs in Southern California, home to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, is preparing for a super bloom and thousands of visitors. Two years ago, people dubbed the onslaught of bloom-seeking visitors “flowergeddon.”

No matter where you travel, all it takes is a keen eye and a slower pace to spot the flowers. You can truly appreciate the wildflowers when you walk through their native environment.

If you are fortunate enough to venture out to see the blooms, please remember to take only pictures. That will give others a chance to enjoy the flowers, including the bees and butterflies that will pollinate plants for the next generation of blooms.

And be careful to stay on designated trails. Try not to disturb the seeds that are waiting for the optimal conditions to make their presence known. You could be helping create the next flowergeddon and bringing smiles to many.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523.

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