America By Rail Blog

posted on March 10, 2015

Springtime is upon us and it's time for April showers and May flowers. Wildflowers are one of the best parts of spring, popping up unexpectedly and beautifully, telling us that spring has officially arrived. The best way to see wildflowers is to visit the large patches located in national parks and small town festivals. To celebrate the warmer weather and the longer days of sun, here are the top 10 recommended places to see wildflowers in all their vibrant glory. 

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve | The Mojave Desert, California

Found almost everywhere in California, the poppy is a beautiful orange blanket of spring. The best place to view them, however, is the 1,780 acre Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, in northern Los Angeles County. During prime poppy time, April usually, stroll along the eight miles of trails that allow you to travel the reserve and see the endless vibrant, orange flowers blanketing the hillsides. 

Crested Butte | Colorado

Officially honored as the  "Wildflower Capital of Colorado," the mountains and valleys around Crested Butte are a melting pot of color in late spring and summer. The flowers range from blue columbines, red Indian paintbrushes, yellow sunflowers, purple delphiniums, to dark-blue lupines, among many others. Take any of the trails in the National Forest nearby and to experience the magnificent wildflower views. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park | North Carolina, Tennessee

Home to more than 1,500 varieties of flowering plants, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known as the "Wildflower National Park." Some of the flower types include lady slipper orchids, crested dwarf irises, bleeding hearts, and violets, mostly blooming in mid-to-late-April. Summer blooming brings cardinal flowers, black-eyed susans, bee-balms, Turk's cap lilies, and many more. 

Brenham | Texas

To see an abundance of the beautiful bluebonnets and Texas's state flower, visit the small city of Brenham, located about halfway between Houston and Austin. Mixed in are Indian paintbrushes and evening primroses that add some variation in color. The prime viewing time for these wildflowers is mid March through mid April. 

Shenandoah National Park | Virginia

Located amid the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park is home to more than 850 wildflower species. Look for pastel colored liverwort, white bloodroot, purple trillium, yellow and purple violets, wild geraniums, and pink lady slippers during the early spring months, around March. Later in the season, as the temperature warms up even more, look out for columbines, ox-eye daisies, and orange touch me nots. 

Cedar Breaks National Monument | Utah

Due to the 10,000 foot elevation of Cedar Breaks National Monument, a massive natural amphitheater nearly three miles wide, spring comes late and wildflower season is short lived. However, June and mid July are the peak time to see flowers such as lupine, pink spring beauty, pale purple phlox, aspen bluebells, scarlet paintbrushes, little sunflowers, and blue flax. 

Fort Pierre National Grassland | South Dakota

Located in central South Dakota, The Fort Pierre National Grassland is 116,000 acres of mixed grass prairie that blooms beautiful summer wildflowers. Look out for blue daisy fleabane, purple prairie clover, purple coneflower, bluebell, silver bladderpod, blue flax, bellflower, and Eastern red columbine. 

North Cascades National Park | Washington

North Cascades National Park, due to its significant differences in elevation, rainfall, and exposure, has a varied and broad bloom time. At lower elevations look for blooming in March, and with high elevations blooming isn't until late summer, August and September. Some species to look for include pink mountain heather, tiger lily, evergreen violet, 

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park | California

For wildflowers to bloom in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park the conditions must be just right: rain, but not too much, heat, but not too much, and if there is too much wind the flowers can easily dry out. However, usually February through April you can walk the 110 miles of trails and find vibrant patches of white prickly poppies, yellow hair suncaps, purple arrow weed, heart leaved primrose, redstem filaree, and climbing milkweed. 

Glacier National Park | Montana

One of the first signs of spring at Glacier National Park is the lonely yellow glacier lily sticking its little head up through the icy snow. Glacier, a park with more than a million acres, is home to merely a thousand species of wildflowers  that bloom mainly in July and August. Flowers to see are monkeyflower, sticky geranium, paintbrush, wandering daisies, and lupine. The real show stoppers, however, are the lacy, bulb shaped white flower of beargrass, a type of lily. 

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