Jump Canyon – Arizona Strip

St. George Jeepers Trail Report – May 16, 2017

Jump Canyon on the Arizona Strip

Sixteen vehicles congregating at the Highway 7, Airport Parkway/River Road air-down location on the Arizona border.

The run today was led by Joan and Phil Hayes and tail gunners were Carol Steck and Bud Sanders. The trip today was made even more enjoyable due to many wildflowers in full bloom. After departing the Utah/Arizona border we drove south on BLM 1068, Rt. 5, also known as the Mt. Trumbull Loop. We turned west on County Highway 101. Then, down past Shoe Buckle Canyon into Upper Jump Canyon. We proceeded on into St. George Canyon, traveling temporarily on the Nutter Twist Road. We entered the Grand Wash Cliffs Wilderness and drove on to Upper Jump Canyon. We then entered Rd. 1007 and circled back until we retraced our track on Highway 101.

Below, one of the Beardtongue penstemons. 

Prickly poppy, Argemone pleiacantha (or platycerus)

Scarlet Bugler, also called firecracker penstemon-Penstemon centranthifolius (or Penstemon eatonii)

This species commonly hybridizes with Showy penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis), a species with wide-mouthed purple-blue flowers, to produce a penstemon with pinkish-purple flowers which is intermediate in size named Penstemon parishii. P. centranthifolius is native to California and is also found east of California, but is confined to western North America.

Penstemons along the trail, likely Palmer’s penstemon “Penstemon palmeri”

Engelmann’s prickly pear cactus- Opuntia engelmannii

Engelmann’s cactus is a prickly pear common across the south-central and Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It goes by a variety of common names, including “cow’s tongue cactus,” “cow tongue prickly pear,” “desert prickly pear,” “discus prickly pear,” “Engelmann’s prickly pear,” and “Texas prickly pear” in the US, and “nopal,” “abrojo,” “joconostle,” and “vela de coyote,” in Mexico.

Encelia spp., Brittle brush 

Apache plume- Fallugia paradoxa

Apache Plume is one of our showiest native western shrubs. Beginning in late spring and continuing through summer the plant blooms with single white flowers that set fluffy pink seed heads. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric). These rather thick shrubs appear unkempt, but in full flower their white petals are attractive against the dark foliage. Fruit clusters with feathery, purplish tails said to resemble Apache headdress. 

One of many Opuntia species, possibly Opuntia woodsii or a hybrid. Loosely called prickly pear cacti. 

Acourtia, most likely thurberi, Thurber’s desert peony

5 species in Acourtia in southwestern United States. 3 species in Arizona: Acourtia nana, Dwarf Desertpeony; Acourtia thurberi, Thurber’s Desertpeony and Acourtia wrightii, Brownfoot.

Sacred Datura or Jimson weed-Datura wrightii 

The white and lavender-tinted, trumpet-shaped bloom of the Sacred Datura promises a fairyland of delicate beauty, moths, butterflies, long-tongued bees, hummingbirds and magical moonlit nights. It gives rise to some of the plant’s other names, for instance, Angel’s Trumpet, Moon Lily, Moon Flower or Belladonna (beautiful lady).

By contrast, the bristly fruit and stale-smelling leaves of the Sacred Datura speak to another, more sinister side of the plant, to a dark and fearsome netherworld of poison and potential emotional collapse, physical sickness and even death. It suggests visions of the brooding and frightening forests of the Brothers Grimm. These parts of the plant have given rise to alternative names such as Devil’s Trumpet, Deadly Nightshade, Thorn Apple, Mad Apple, Hairy Jimson-weed, Stink Weed, Green Dragon and Locoweed.

All species of Datura have long been used by native peoples of the Southwest in puberty and other ceremonies because of the plant’s hallucinogenic alkaloids. People trying to imitate Native American ways have often poisoned themselves, sometimes fatally. 


Tumble Mustard-Sisymgrium altissimum 

Sometimes called Jim Hill mustard, this weedy annual can be found over much of the United States and Canada. It can grow 2 to 5 feet tall with a thick taproot. A single stem grows from the base leaves (rosette). The tip of the plant is multi-branched and can resemble a shrub.

This plant is common in grain fields, rangelands, unmanaged pastures and along roadsides. It likes to grow in any type of soil and in semi-shade or full sun. Small, pale yellow flowers begin appearing in June and continue throughout the summer. The flowers mature quickly, with relatively few in bloom at one time.

As an annual, tumble mustard reproduces only by seed. The slender, long (2-4 inches) seed pod is tough and breaks open slowly, so only a few seeds at a time are released. As a result, the plant will scatter its seeds throughout the fall and winter across many miles. A single plant can produce up to 1.5 million seeds. Seeds can germinate in the spring or late fall. Tumble mustard seed is long-lived in the soil. Once the soil is disturbed (tilled) the seeds will germinate. To minimize seed germination, do not move the soil any more than necessary. Using a combination of control methods will help to control this weed.

Sisymbrium altissimum is a native annual of Europe that has spread aggressively throughout the United States. It germinates early in the season, grows rapidly, and has a very effective seed dispersal system: when it dries, it breaks away from the ground at the base of the plant and tumbles along with the wind scattering its seeds. It has all the traits necessary for easy and widespread dispersal and growth.

Prince’s Plume-Stanleya pinnata 

Prince’s plume accumulates selenium from the soil and substitutes it for sulfur in some of its amino acids. The plant tolerates or even benefits by this substitution but animals do not. The chemically and functionally altered amino acids and proteins are highly toxic to livestock and wildlife. Fortunately, the plants are seldom eaten. 

Mirabilis multiflora-Colorado or Desert four o’clock and penstemon behind. 

Buckhorn cholla- Opuntia acanthocarpa Ready to blossom 

Yellow sweetclover- Melilotus officinalis 

Sweetclover can be used as pasture or livestock feed. It is most palatable in spring and early summer, but livestock may need time to adjust to the bitter taste of coumarin in the plant. Prior to World War II before the common use of commercial agricultural fertilizers, the plant was commonly used as a cover crop to increase nitrogen content and improve subsoil water capacity in poor soils. Sweet clover is a major source of nectar for domestic honey bees as hives near sweetclover can yield up to 200 pounds of honey in a year. 

This concludes the report of another wonderful Tuesday St. George Jeepers excursion. 

Submitted by Bud Sanders 


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