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Wildflowers at Mount Rainier National Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

Where to see wildflowers in the USA

Plan a bloom-centric spring getaway to these stunning places bursting with wildflowers in the U.S.

Scott Snowden
Edited by
Scott Snowden
Written by
Sarah Medina

Sometimes it feels like winter might last forever. It certainly doesn't help when Punxsutawney Phil predicts another six weeks of it. But as soon as spring does show its face, suddenly everything seems just a little bit easier to deal with. All across the U.S., as temps rise and rains start to let up, the beginnings of beautiful blooms start to sprout with abandon. If you’re thinking about a road trip or a quick jaunt to somewhere warm and colorful, here are the best places to see wildflowers in the U.S.

From massive blooms in the hills and valleys of Southern California to under-the-radar meadows in a small Colorado ski town, the displays of color are almost other-worldly. Poppies, lupines, violets, black-eyed Susans and so many more mingle in explosions of color. While some blooms peak in the spring, some don’t pop up until summer. Most destinations offer handy wildflower trackers so you can time your visits perfectly. Combine a scenic hike with wildflower viewing and you’re guaranteed a fresh air fiesta.

Wherever you go, remember to respect the natural beauty—avoid trampling and stick to pics rather than picking. And if you need your hands on some flowers stat? Look up these services for flower delivery across the U.S.

RECOMMENDED: Best hiking trails in the United States

Where to see wildflowers in the US

When to go: January–March

What to see: After a particularly wet winter in 2016–2017 brought a superbloom that caused Anza-Borrego Desert to go viral, the state park is still at the top of our list for wildflowers. Though the first half of this year's winter was a dry one in California, a visit to this SoCal desert might come with pops of desert gold poppies, phacelia, and a variety of tiny belly flowers. As for where to see them, each canyon—Borrego Palm Canyon, Henderson Canyon Road and Coyote Canyon—offers different varieties.

When to go: Late March

What you'll see: If you want rushing waterfalls and scenic backcountry camping along with your wildflowers, then look no further than Shenandoah National Park. A trip along gold-view-guaranteed Skyline Drive makes for the perfect intro to the wildflower scene—a wash of bloodroot, trillium, violets, geraniums, and pink lady slippers—before you set off to explore some of the 500 miles of trails mapping the wilderness.


When to go: Mid-March to late-April 

What you'll see: Poppies are beautiful when they cover the desert hillsides in orange flowers. But poppies are also fickle. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve can only expect a moderate poppy season if there's too much rain. Too dry? Not a great bloom either. But that doesn’t mean you won’t see other wildflowers. Peak poppy season is late March to mid-April—a short window to catch the blooms at their height.

When to go: April

What you'll see: Every spring, Texas turns blue. As in bluebonnets. Across Hill Country, you'll see 800,000 acres of highway median blossoms, but for the best wildflower vistas, you'll need to stay in the car. The Bluebonnet Trail, which includes the cities of Brenham and Chappell Hill, runs for 80 miles through fields and fields of bluebonnets, mingling with Texas paintbrushes, winecups, and primrose for a gloriously scenic drive.


When to go: Late April

What you'll see: The most visited national park in the country, Great Smoky Mountains is home to 1,778 species of animals (the most of any park), more than 2,600 different plant species and an incredible 1,500 wildflower varieties! In the spring you can spot trillium, lady slipper orchids, and violets while summer brings black-eyed Susans. The annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage usually takes place in April when visitors can enjoy guided walks and photography workshops.

When to go: early June

What you'll see: The small village of Sugar Hill, New Hampshire—tucked away in a quiet corner of the White Mountains—becomes a tourist attraction for one month every year for one very specific reason: lupines. Every June, the town's vast fields, farms and gardens overflow with large purple and pink flowers.


When to go: June–July

What you'll see: Established in 1910, massive Glacier National Park—it takes up more than one million acres—is older than the national park system itself and boasts one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes—and that includes wildflowers. Every summer, more than a thousand species of wildflowers take over the aspen groves, alpine tundras, lowlands and steep mountain slopes that make up this gorgeous park. Keep your eyes peeled for purple asters, Indian pipes, geraniums, buttercups, and much more.

When to go: July

What you'll see: The Wildflower Capital of Colorado lives up to its name with hills full of lilies, primrose, honeysuckle, iris, marigolds, and hundreds of other blooms. Normally the area holds a wildflower festival, but you can still use the festival’s trusty little alpine and subalpine field guides to scour the hills for colorful buds yourself. And use the bloom locator for suggestions on peak times and places to catch your favorite flowers.


When to go: Summer

What you'll see: The lack of roads in Fort Pierre National Grassland makes it even better for peeping wildflowers. Lace up your hiking boots and you'll be rewarded with various flowers, including purple prairie clover, bluebell, and silver bladderpod. And keep your eyes peeled for other wildlife that calls the grasslands home, such as black-tail prairie dogs, badgers, coyotes, rattlesnakes, burrowing owls, raptors, jackrabbits, mule and whitetail deer, and antelope.

When to go: July–August

What you'll see: This 236,381-acre park in Washington state happens to encompass an active volcano, but since it last erupted in the 19th century, chances are nothing will happen if you go—nothing, that is, except experiencing breathtaking views of Mt Rainier itself, along with glaciers, waterfalls and meadows filled with wildflowers. Head to Paradise Meadow to peek bellflowers, bog orchids, bleeding hearts, and cinquefoils.  


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