Discover the reasons for all the seasons
Those of us who live in the Mountain Empire often refer to the region as having five distinct seasons: the usual winter, spring, summer, and fall, each possessing a unique beauty. But we also have another season, the monsoon season, which is nestled in the latter days of summer with dramatic and breathtaking effects.
Autumn starts in October when the lush green grasses, fresh from monsoon rains, are transformed back into the golden browns and bronzes so reminiscent of the area. Look for the colorful cottonwoods along the dry streambeds and arroyos as they rustle their golden leaves against the brilliant azure blue skies. Bask in the warm sunny weather by day, and then warm yourself next to a cheerful firepit during the cool, starry evenings.
Autumn here is a wonderful time for hiking and biking through the Mountain Empire. The clear air, balmy temperatures, and rolling landscapes invite outdoor activities that need to be curtailed this time of year in cooler regions. No gray skies or traces of snowflakes here, where it’s still summer in November!
Our typical winter day is sunny and brisk with vivid blue skies. Visitors are able to soak up plenty of solar energy as they enjoy the beautiful outdoors. The high desert grasslands take on their ubiquitous golden color punctuated by the green of Emory oaks. The cottonwoods and sycamores are striking visions as they display their leafless arms and sculptured trunks against the blue backdrop canopy of the sky.
Winter rains are essential for the wild flowers to bloom in spring. Although these storms can bring cooler weather and even an occasional snow flurry, they do not last long , and leave the surrounding mountain ranges snow-capped and picturesque.
Expect a bite to the winter nights when temperatures may hover at freezing. This is the time of year when the smell of mesquite wood burning in fireplaces permeates the air, reminding visitors and residents alike that, yes, there can be winter in southern Arizona!
Spring comes gradually to the Mountain Empire. A degree here, a burst of color there, and the next thing you know, spring has arrived. White blossoms tinged with pink on the apple trees are often the first to bloom, followed by the vivid pink blossoms of the peach trees. Seemingly overnight, cottonwoods start to leaf out with brilliant green growth crowning their magnificent reach, and the mesquites soon follow suit.
If there have been enough winter rains, a magnificent spring wildflower display will now burst forth. Arizona and Mexican poppies will grace roadsides and hillsides, while a myriad of other flowers, including lupine, aster, mallow, phacelia and primrose, provide more blazes of color. Nearly any drive provides a striking view of flowering landscapes framed by dramatic mountain backdrops.
Mountain Empire summers are filled with relaxing, lazy days followed by cool, enchanting evenings. Everything slows down. These are the days to get your sightseeing done early, enjoy a leisurely lunch, and then take a nap or curl up with a good book on the terrace. De-stress and unwind to the gentle buzzing of the evening cicadas and the whispering breeze.
However, some things ramp up this time of year, particularly the birds. Summertime is when we have the greatest concentration of birds in this internationally renowned birding area. Enjoy the sights and sounds of nature at one of the many riparian areas or sit yourself down by a hummingbird feeder and watch the action. Then get ready for our fifth season to begin … the monsoons!
July and August are the time of year when Mother Earth reminds us of her power here in SE Arizona. The fury and majesty of a summer storm thundering across the high desert grasslands is a palpable experience. The signs of approach can be seen by mid-day as cumulus clouds build up over the southeastern horizon. Allow yourself plenty of time to relax and enjoy the deluge of rain, rolling thunder and spectacular lightning. Nothing can quite compare to an Arizona monsoon.
The earth is rejuvenated during this time of year. The grasslands awaken from their golden slumber and flourish with life. Emerald green hillsides are dotted with fields of wildflowers and towering sunflowers line the roads. Water washes through the once dry creek and riverbeds, and the Mountain Empire becomes transformed into a vivid green and lush oasis.
No matter when you visit the Mountain Empire, you’ll enjoy a season of beauty, color, and spectacular weather.