I once saw an internet advertisement for Arizona tourism which claimed that Scottsdale—a posh suburb of Phoenix—has good weather year round. I about choked. Yes, we have good weather at the time of year when "real" climates have bad weather. But when those four-seasons cities are enjoying their climate, we have summers with 100 days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 122 days without rain (NOT a good thing, people). Or four days in a row of 117°. Some people don't mind this much. A few actually like it. But for people like me, it's energy-sapping torture. Given a choice between 110° and 2°, I'll take 2° any day.
So, when is the best time to visit Arizona? NOT SUMMER. And remember: summer starts in April or May and goes until September or October, depending on the year and your tolerance for heat.
Winter in Arizona's desert is nice, except what little grass we have is dead. It's also a good time to tease native Arizonans who don ridiculously heavy coats (sometimes paired with shorts) and claim they're freezing when the temperatures dip below 60.
Fall's good, except when it's acting like summer. Most of the traditional brightly-colored autumn leaves happen in random times like February, and there aren't many to begin with.
Orange-blossom season is one of my favorites. The fragrance literally stops me in my tracks. I always put it on my top-ten list of good smells, right along with bacon frying, pine trees, rain, anything chocolate baking, and new books. This year the citrus trees blossomed around the middle of March.
The last couple of weeks, however, have been so pretty they've made me wonder why I'm always knocking the climate. We've had some hot days—reached 100 once—but the palo verde trees have turned bright yellow. Reds and oranges decorate the normally drab desert plants. The Jacaranda trees are wearing purple corsages. The grass has greened up. Even the cactus is flowering. So if you're thinking of visiting Arizona, you might consider mid April.
|Cactus Garden, Glendale Arizona Main Library, Late April|
|Old Man Cactus, with Blossoming Palo Verde behind. Late April 2011.|
|I'm not sure what this is. Anyone know? If you do, leave it in the comments below.|
|Prickly Pear Blossom|