Last updated: 09:05 AM ET, Tue March 10 2015

5 Best Places to Stop and Smell The Wildflowers

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | March 10, 2015

5 Best Places to Stop and Smell The Wildflowers

Photos are courtesy of their corresponding parks.

Every spring and summer across the country, grasslands, rolling hills, and prairies come alive with the colors of wildflowers. The following list, although not all-encompassing, showcases some of the best places to spy on some wildflowers and wildlife to boot.

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve - Sacramento, California

Spring comes early to this state park in California. Poppies are already starting to bloom by mid February and last until almost late May. This Mojave Desert Grassland habitat offers up eight miles of trails, including a paved section for wheelchair access. In addition to the exciting display of poppies, the wildlife here includes meadowlarks, hawks, lizards and the occasional coyote and bobcat. The onsite Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center offers exhibits and a gift shop. Picnic tables and benches are first come-first serve.

Crested Butte - Colorado

Summer is the time to arrive in Crested Butte, because although the area is beautiful any time of year, when the wildflowers are blooming it is over the top beautiful. They are considered the wildflower capital of Colorado and embrace that fact with the celebration of the Wildflower Festival each July.  During the festival they offer tours, hikes, art classes and more.

Shenandoah National Park – Virginia

Beginning in late March and going almost all the way through the fall, there is a constant rotation of wildflowers blooming in this park. Each year in May, the park offers up a special programming weekend entitled Wildflower Weekend. It entails guided tours and hikes, special programs and classes. The park’s website also provides references for additional information. There is also camping and lodging available for those who want to make a full weekend of it.

Fort Pierre National Grassland – South Dakota

Located eight miles south of Pierre, South Dakota, the Fort Pierre National Grassland is a late spring and summer haven for wildflowers. The rolling hills and vast prairie flats of the area, coupled with the right amount of precipitation, are perfect conditions for copious wildflowers and optimal viewing. In addition to the wildflowers, enjoy natural grasses and various wildlife such as whitetail and mule deer. The habitat is also rife with waterfowl, shorebirds, and fish.

Death Valley National Park – Nevada/California

Most people would not think of the hottest place in the United States as fertile ground for wildflowers but believe it or not, it just is. And some years, like most recently in 2005, the right amount of rain falls, the temperatures in the late winter is milder and the wind doesn’t kick up quite as bad, resulting in a superbloom (as in the picture above).  Even if the planets aren’t falling into alignment for such a great yield, there is always a good showing of wildflowers in the valley. From mid-February to mid-April expect to see blooms in the lower elevations, with blooms as late as July for the upper elevations.  

Wildflowers are one of the first signs that spring is finally arriving. As the warm blankets and winter clothes are put away in exchange for fans and flip-flops, get out there in take in some nature.


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