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With the onslaught of snow, hail, and rain, it’s a guarantee that there will be a splendid array of flowers dotting the landscape all across America. It’s surely a much-needed respite from all the dreary weather people have been witnessing this past winter and what better way to start the season than a lovely stroll outdoors? From high deserts to open plains and everything in between, here are some of our top spots to view nature’s amazing offerings this spring!
Park Hours: Sunrise to Sunset, Daily
Peak Bloom Times: mid-March to early May
Take the trek to the outskirts of LA County and witness one of the Golden State’s most-treasured sites in the high desert! The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve sits near the city of Lancaster, which is the prime spot to see the poppies unfurl in all of their vivid orange splendor. The beloved state flower is known to have a finicky growth period, but usually the best time to visit is during early April. Time your visit sometime during the midmorning though since the temperature around that period is warm enough for the poppies to pop out. Even if they aren’t in bloom during your excursion, you can also enjoy seeing the Joshua tree flowers, owl’s clover, and other wildflower varietals in the reserve’s eight miles of hiking trails. Wildlife enthusiasts can also enjoy the blooms as well get an opportunity to see critters such as hawks, kangaroo rats, gopher snakes, and much more during the spring.
If you find yourself in town sometime in late April however, do not miss out on the California Poppy Festival! The two day fest honors the region’s poppy season and features a wide array of local artists, musicians, food, and special events to commemorate the occasion.
Park Hours: 8 AM – 5 PM, Monday – Friday
Peak Bloom Times: early April to July
Fresh mountain air, stunning granite rock formations, and a diverse range of flora and fauna make the Vedauwoo Recreation Area paradise for any outdoor enthusiast. Located in the Medicine Bow National Forest, this revered landmark is situated near Laramie, Wyoming and houses some of the state’s finest wildflowers. Among some of the area’s most cherished specimens include the sand lily, nineleaf biscuitroot, slender wild-parsley, lupine flowers, as well as the vibrant red of the Indian paintbrush (which is known to be Wyoming’s state flower). The family-friendly recreation area also hosts an array of hiking trails including an ADA-friendly trail that’s accessible for individuals with mobility issues.
For those who want a little more high-octane action, Vedauwoo is known to be one of the premier outdoor bouldering/rock climbing regions in the United States. The granite rock structures allow even the most advanced climbers test their skills as they scale to the top and back down with great precision.
Park Hours: 9 AM – 7 PM daily, but hours can vary
Peak Bloom Times: early February to June
With a reputation as “America’s Most Visited National Park,” this sprawling oasis in the Appalachians is widely revered by botanists as a wildflower mecca (with over 1,500 named species of flowers to date). The Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits between the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee and delivers a temperate climate that allows the area’s flowers to prosper throughout the year. Among many of the specimens that make their appearance during the spring and summer include the flame azalea, goldenrods, wild geraniums, and black-eyed Susan flowers to name a few. In addition, the national park rangers also host a series of wildflower walks in April that allow locals and visitors to explore the region’s expansive flora according to location point as well as elevation.
Whether you find yourself either in Tennessee or in North Carolina for your excursion, the Great Smoky Mountains is a visual playground that delivers 365 days a year!
Peak Bloom Times: early to mid-March to early May
For endless fields of blue as far as the eye can see, head down south to the city of Brenham and view the Lone Star State’s bluebonnets up close and personal! The bluebonnet is known to be endemic only to the northern region of Texas and has a reputation for being Lady Bird Johnson’s favorite flower. She loved them so much that she made it a state initiative to preserve the bluebonnets (as well as other native Texan wildflowers) for future generations to enjoy thanks to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Come early spring and Brenham turns from an idyllic town to a bustling center full of tourists and locals vying to see the bluebonnets in all their glory.
Be careful when you venture from the outskirts of the city however since a portion of the bluebonnets do sit on private property. Take all the pictures you like though, because the bluebonnet season only lasts from six to eight weeks once they bloom!
Peak Bloom Times: early May to July
The Granite State may be small in size, but it serves as home to over 3,500 varieties of wildflowers with some only found within the White Mountains region of New Hampshire. A combination of moist, temperate soil plus the crisp air allows a wide range of low-lying alpine flowers to prosper within the area. Some of the gorgeous offerings visitors can view include the panted trillium, sheep laurel, little bluets, bunchberry, and the rhodora (which can be spotted easily with its bright pink flowers).
Make sure to pack a pair of binoculars and a good pair of rubber-soled hiking shoes though! Mount Washington is New Hampshire’s tallest peak in the state and once you climb the top, you’ll get a panoramic view of the White Mountains that’ll take your breath away.
Peak Bloom Times: March – early May
The Palos Verdes Peninsula is a treasure trove of natural wonders that delivers top-notch views of the Pacific Ocean plus a view of Catalina Island on a clear day. Located on the coast of LA County, the saline-infused coastal air plus nearly 365-days of warm sunshine allow this area’s wildflowers to put on a dazzling array of colors when springtime arrives. Yellow mustard flowers, arroyo lupines, California bush sunflowers, and Pacific pea flowers are a few of the region-specific flora that bloom during the spring. However, the wildflower period is often short-lived due to Southern California’s hot summers so be sure to swing by before the flowers dry out!
If you really seek an immersive experience, head on over to either the Forrestal Reserve or the Linden H. Chandler Preserve and hike alongside the wildflowers! Just make sure to wear comfy shoes, sunscreen, and pack a water bottle on hand because shade is limited during high noon.
Peak Bloom Times: late April – July
Washington may be known for its verdant landscapes (it’s how they’re nicknamed “The Evergreen State” after all), but don’t overlook at what else this state has to offer! Mount Rainier National Park is a beloved area with a wide array of outdoor activities for every season. However in the late spring, the entire park shows off a variety of wildflowers that cover various terrains based on altitude. From the low forest to the subalpine meadows and even the alpine zone, visitors can enjoy the wonderful sights and even scents some of these flowers deliver. Some of the most prevalent blooms include the pink mountain heather, the glacier lily, Cusick’s Speedwells, and the Western Coralroot (which are known to gain nutrition by taking in dead organic matter).
Don’t be surprised if you still see snow on the ground during your spring visit though! Many of Mount Rainier’s wildflowers are known to thrive under cold conditions with a few species blooming through a thin layer of permafrost.
Peak Bloom Times: late May to September
The 49th state is one of the last places people think of when it comes to seeing flowers in nature, but Alaska can definitely put on a show during the warmer season! Located just right outside Anchorage, the Chugach National Forest boast 5.4 million acres of pristine wildlife and makes itself a haven for animals such as brown bears, wild salmon, and bald eagles. When the sun starts to rise and warm the soil however, the entire forest floor (which is about the size of New Hampshire) transforms into a mosaic of pastel pinks, blues, magenta, white, and more. Some of the most unique offerings found in the forest include the chocolate lily, fireweeds, bog laurels, and Alaska’s very own state flower, the forget-me-not.
Since the wildflower season starts much later than the rest of the lower 48, it’s a great way for travelers to go off the beaten path and capture Alaska’s stunning beauty uninterrupted!