Wildflower Hikes in 10 States

Wildflower Hikes in 10 States

As beautiful monochromatic winter scenes give way to spring, your reward is blankets of wildflowers, green grasses and explosions of color across landscapes from coast to coast. Here are some especially beautiful springtime scenes for you to enjoy in 10 different states. Keep in mind that slight changes in weather can alter the peak times and the amount of wildflowers in these areas.

Arizona

Saguaro National Park - Peak wildflower season: late May through July

Saguaro cactus blooming in Saguaro National Park. (Jack Foster Share The Experience Wildflowers
Saguaro cactus blooming in Saguaro National Park. (Jack Foster, Share the Experience)

There is nothing quite like a desert bloom as unique as the saguaro cactus blossom. Its beautiful white, waxy flower (bloom season late May-July) is the Arizona state flower and is a favorite treat for the diverse animal populations that call Saguaro National Park home. Enjoy guided programs for spring nature walkers to see cactus blooms.

The saguaro cactus is the nation’s largest and is unique to the desert southwest – notably east and west of Tucson. Saguaro National Park is a spectacular place to explore any time of year.

California

Carrizo Plain National Monument - Peak wildflower season: mid-March to late April

Poppies in Carrizo Plain National Monument Sarah Chah Share The Experience Wildflowers
Poppies in Carrizo Plain National Monument (Sarah Chah, Share the Experience)

Springtime in the California desert is a sight to behold. The Carrizo Plain National Monument is a few hours from Los Angeles and is home to many species of blooming plants that blanket the Great Central Valley. John Muir once wrote that in walking across the valley during March, April and May, one footstep would press about a hundred flowers. You cannot count on this kind of bloom every year, so it is best to check the status of the seasonal blooms prior to making the trek.

A quick trip out of the urban environment of Los Angeles and you “can hear the silence” at the monument. Traversed by the San Andreas Fault, you will be among a series of ridges, ravines, vast open grasslands and a plain rimmed by mountains.

Colorado

Gunnison National Forest - Peak wildflower season: June through August

Gunnison National Forest Nate Page Share The Experience Wildflowers
Gunnison National Forest (Nate Page, Share the Experience)

The Crested Butte area of the Gunnison National Forest yields high-elevation wildflowers that are accessible as the snow melts and roads open for the season—typically in June. The West Elk Scenic Byway is especially picturesque at elevations up to nearly 10,000 feet (3048 m) along a 25 mile (40.2 km) stretch of gravel road.

The forest is part of three units managed together as the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests. These central Colorado landscapes feature several scenic byways, dramatic high-alpine peaks, remote wilderness areas and sections of wild and scenic rivers.

Montana

Custer Gallatin National Forest - Peak wildflower season: early July to mid-August

Gallatin National Forest Zack Clothier Share The Experience Wildflowers
Custer Gallatin National Forest (Zack Clothier, Share the Experience)

In southwest Montana and just beyond West Yellowstone, the Custer Gallatin National Forestoffers scenic hikes across hillsides of diverse wildflowers. The Red Canyon/Cabin Creek Divide area of the Hebgen Lake Ranger District provides easy access to meadows that are "often choked with wildflowers." Stay alert and be aware of bears and other animals in the area.

The Custer Gallatin National Forest is known for its diverse landscapes, rugged wilderness areas and is home to Granite Peak, the highest peak in Montana.

North Carolina

Pisgah National Forest - Peak wildflower season: late March to late April; July through September

Pisgah National Forest Cathy Hennessy Share The Experience Wildflowers
Pisgah National Forest(Cathy Hennessy, Share the Experience)

Coneflower in Pisgah National Forest Pamela Corwin Share The Experience Wildflowers
Coneflower in Pisgah National Forest (Pamela Corwin, Share the Experience)

Not far from Hot Springs, North Carolina, the Pisgah National Forest is teeming with wildflowers. Take your pick from the two hikes and enjoy a variety of species that yield colorful bouquets from early spring and throughout the summer depending on the area you visit.

The Pisgah National Forest is primarily a hardwood forest with whitewater rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails for hiking. It is also home to the first school of forestry in the United States, now preserved as the Cradle of Forestry in America historic site.

Oklahoma

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge - Peak wildflower season: mid-May through late-May

Coreopsis, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma. (Carl Evans)
Coreopsis, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma. (Carl Evans)

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma is a magnet for wildflower enthusiasts in the spring and summer. The Friends of the Wichitas, a group that supports the refuge, has spring wildflower walks scheduled for three Saturday mornings in May. Call to reserve a place, beginning May 8: (580) 429-2197. General refuge information: (580) 429-3222.

Utah

Cedar Breaks National Monument - Peak wildflower season: May through mid-July

Cedar Breaks National Monument Doyle Wilson Share The Experience Wildflowers
Cedar Breaks National Monument (Doyle Wilson, Share the Experience)

Cedar Breaks National Monument Teresa Wang Share The Experience Wildflowers
Cedar Breaks National Monument (Teresa Wang, Share the Experience)

A trip to southern Utah would not be complete without a visit to Cedar Breaks National Monument not far from Cedar City. Each spring the Monument hosts a wildflower festival and check out the park's wildflower app to see what you might find, then celebrate the colors of the season. Specialists offer guided hikes or you can get their “What’s in Bloom” checklist and venture out on your own.

Discover this stunning landscape of sub-alpine forest, lush meadows and colorful hoodoos.

Virginia

Shenandoah National Park - Peak wildflower seasons: mid-March through Summer

Shenandoah National Park Linda Smith Share The Experience Wildflowers
Shenandoah National Park (Linda Smith, Share the Experience)

About an hour outside of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is a refreshing nature escape from the bustling city. In the spring, visitors welcome blossoms of about 850 species of flowering plants that put on quite a show. Join the park for their 31st Annual Wildflower Weekend(PDF) and Youth Art Contest in early May.

Washington

Gifford Pinchot National Forest - Peak wildflower season: mid-July through mid-August

Gifford Pinchot National Forest Cheryl Hill Share The Experience Wildflowers
Gifford Pinchot National Forest (Cheryl Hill, Share the Experience)

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southwest Washington is a scenic and recreation playground. Mt. Adams Wilderness, Pacific Crest Trail and Adams Creek area is especially beautiful during wildflower season, which peaks in the summer. The terrain is rugged and relatively recent lava flows (a few thousand years) make for conditions too harsh for trees; yet wildflowers can take root during short periods after the snow melts.

The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is also part of this forest, which is an incredibly unique landscape as the ecosystem continually adapts to the changing conditions since the recent 1980 volcanic eruption.

Wyoming

Bridger-Teton National Forest - Peak wildflower season: mid-July through early August

Bridger Teton National Forest Allison Waring Share The Experience Wildflowers
Bridger-Teton National Forest (Allison Waring, Share the Experience)

One of the most scenic areas of Wyoming and just outside Yellowstone National Park is the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Although the wildflower season is short due to the high elevation, the variety and abundance of flowering plants near Teton Pass is generous.

This forest is within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and provides endless recreation experiences including the four W’s – Wildlife, Winter opportunities, Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers.


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