When we scheduled our trip to Arches and Canyonlands we were thinking about the temperature and the fact that school was not out. Figured it would be warm enough to camp but not too hot to hike, and the vast majority of people we would encounter on weekdays would be adults.
What we had not considered was wildflowers and cacti. We were absolutely amazed at the variety of plants in bloom around us - or getting read to bloom like the prickly pear cactus. Of the fields and fields of budding Prickly Pear we found only one blossom.
The Claret Cup Cactus was another matter all together. After we spotted the first flash of vivid dark red we saw them everywhere - even sandwiched between rocks.
Another star was the small barrel cacti with their lavender blooms. They seldom got more than a foot tall and 6" around but they largely grew in a solitary setting where they could make the most of their showy flowers.
The Yuccas were everywhere too and we watched them for days as their purple stalks gradually filled out and the white blossoms began to open.
For more blooms in the desert see the following slide show.