From spring to fall, the USA’s varied landscape comes to life in a burst of colorful wildflowers.
There are an estimated 32,000 varieties of wildflowers that grow across the USA with peak bloom season usually between late April and early August. While not the only U.S. destinations to see wildflowers, these five states provide flower-filled adventures on and off the beaten path. Just remember: Most wildflower ecosystems are sensitive, so avoid picking flowers and, instead, bring your camera for lasting memories.
Wildflowers Bloom in the California Desert
California is famed for its Pacific Ocean coastline, but this diverse state erupts into a kaleidoscope of colorful blooms from March through mid-May. Begin your floral odyssey in the desert landscapes of Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park during peak bloom season of March and April. Discover perennials such as the alluring purple desert lupine, Fremont’s phacelia, indigo bush and the Mojave aster. To witness the silver-leaved nightshade or the jumping cholla, drive to the California and Arizona border in the Sonoran Desert at Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
Only 120 kilometers inland from San Luis Obispo, the grasslands at Carrizo Plain National Monument come to life in April, featuring California poppies, owl’s clover and the unique jewel flower with its blooms that resemble gemstones. For a wildflower road trip, head to Lakes Basin and travel Interstate 70 north through Plumas National Forest and Feather River Canyon between mid-June and July. Snap photos of wild orchids, snow plant and smooth yellow violet.
Desert lilies and other wildflowers blooming in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Floral Beauty in the Texas Hill Country
Known for its plethora of wildflowers, Central Texas in the USA’s southwest can be quite colorful in the spring with bluebonnets and pink primrose dotting the landscape. Stop by Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, an 80.9-hectare wildflower haven that has been cultivating flowers since 1983. See red corn and golden poppies as well as rocket larkspur in April through October.
Seeking great hiking trails paired with wildflower splendor? Spring in Austin’s McKinney Falls State Park offers fantastic views of Indian paintbrushes and thistles throughout April. South of the Colorado River, near the tiny town of Spicewood, Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area is a wonderland for the Texas state flower, the bluebonnet. Blooms rely on a wet fall and cold winter to thrive during the spring, usually best seen in late April.
A field of bluebonnets at Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area
Whimsical Wildflowers of Colorado
Unlike California and Texas, in the western, mountainous state of Colorado, wildflowers thrive during the summer. Blooms begin in April, with peak season taking place June through August. Take a road trip to Pike and San Isabel National Forests near Colorado Springs, and discover the Colorado blue columbine, the official state flower. This stunning white and violet blossom flourishes in the early spring to early summer. Visit Rocky Mountain National Park in June and July to see vibrant bluebells paired with views of the alpine forest.
Considered the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado,” Crested Butte is known for dark-blue lupines and its annual wildflower festival. Of course, the entire state can be considered a flower paradise. Often seen on hikes, fireweed is a hot pink bloom that grows best in areas that have been ravaged by wildfires. See this unique flower from late July to early August.
Colorful flowers alongside a dirt road in the Gunnison Valley near Crested Butte
A Spectacle of Blooms in Virginia
In April, Virginia transforms into one of the southeast’s wildflower headquarters. Start your adventures at the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Hike the Roaring Wildflower Trail for spectacular views of waterfalls and swimming holes accented by blossoms such as wild geranium and Solomon’s seal. Next head to Lotus Garden Park in Virginia Beach to see the protected and beautiful yellow American lotus. In Shenandoah National Park, more than 850 species of wildflowers such as the pastel-colored liverwort and white bloodroot dot the landscape in the peak of spring and into summer. Spot mountain laurel, cow parsnips and wild columbine as you drive the park’s stunning scenic byway Skyline Drive.
Mountain laurel framing a gorgeous view in Shenandoah National Park
A Kaleidoscope of Wildflowers in Vermont
In late summer and early fall, Vermont is the place to be. A vital food source for butterflies and other insects, the variety of blooms creates a multi-hued show for visitors as the months turn cooler. The most abundant flower grown throughout the state is Queen Anne’s lace, a delicate white fern that blooms in late August. Travel to the Green Mountain National Forest in August and September to witness iconic fields of Goldenrod blooms as you hike the Leicester Hollow Trail. The George Aiken Wildflower Trail, adjacent to the Bennington Museum, is a popular hot spot for all ages. This short .5-kilometer trail offers glimpses of turtlehead, merrybells and the fascinating blue phlox.