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45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West

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04.05.18

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45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West

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  • Morning reflections at Echo Lake.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Wildflowers along Killen Creek.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Lupine along Killen Creek.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Wildflowers of Olympic National Park's Enchanted Valley.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Thistle in the Enchanted Valley.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Spray Park and Mount Rainier (14,411 ft).- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Western bistort (Polygonum Bistortoides) in Spray Park.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Sunset from Dog Mountain.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Lupine (Lupinus) at Cooper Spur.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • The end of a rainbow on an intermittently rainy morning at Tom McCall Point.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata) along the Deschutes River at Ferry Springs.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Moss campion (Silene acaulis) at Chimney Rock.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Columbia lily (Lilium columbianum) at Kings Mountain.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Self heal (Prunella vulgaris) at Cascade Head.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Mojave mound cactus (Echinocereus mojavensis) of Joshua Tree National Park.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris) in Joshua Tree National Park.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Brittlebush blooming on the road into Anza Borrego.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • The Hellhole Canyon Trail in a super bloom year.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • A beautiful walk through blooming fields of flowers in the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Poppies at Harmony Headlands.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • California poppies and an unidentified species during a super bloom in Walker Canyon Ecological Reserve.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Great views from the heart of the Chicago Basin.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Wildflowers and Snowmass Lake. - 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Arrowleaf balsamroot covers the hills of Catherine's Pass below Devil's Castle (10,920 ft).- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Wildflowers bloom earlier in the season at Albion Meadows.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Wildflowers near Twin Lakes.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • The yellow flowers of the aster family near Ruth Lake.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Prairie sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris) and First through Third Flatiron viewed from the Chautauqua Trail.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Subalpine daisy (Erigeron peregrinus) and other wildflowers along the Diamond Lake Trail.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Wildflowers are plentiful around streams and lakes east of Lake Isabelle.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Wildflowers cover the ground along streams in the Blue Lake area.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • A yet-unbloomed thistle on the Cow Creek Trail.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Stunning wildflowers bloom in the Stanley Lake Creek meadows in June and July.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) near Marshall Lake.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • The flower displays along the southern edge of Elk Meadow change as the summer progresses. Here is a late June bloom of Mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi).- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Sunrise on Picket Mountain above Grandjean and the South Fork of the Payette River.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Looking down Wapiti Creek and toward the Goat and Baron Creek drainages.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
  • Rock Fringe (Epilobium angustifolium) decorates rock crevices in Alpine Creek Canyon.- 45 Unbeatable Wildflower Adventures Across the West
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Contributor

Researchers speculate that the evolution of humans unfolded in two-step with the development of flowering botanicals, suggesting that early primates developed strong vision and nimble fingers to nab flowers and fruit from the ends of branches. Whether this is true remains to be seen, but the relationship we have with wildflowers is one of unmistakable attraction. This year’s wildflower super bloom is but the most recent example, where in California the hills of Anza-Borrego and the Carrizo Plain have erupted with color visible from space and attracted thousands to shoot selfies in poppy-specked scenes.

So where does a wildflower wanderer go to find these budding beauties? The answer is all about timing. Though no one can accurately predict when a bloom will occur, the spring wildflower season typically begins in March or April. The precise timing depends on a variety of factors, temperature, rainfall, and humidity among them, and the amount of time that the right factors linger. In the desert, rain in small doses throughout the winter ensures that seeds will germinate, but too much rain could encourage rot. Consistent, warm days are also important; cool nights stay the growth of competitors, but temperatures that exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit threaten to scorch or desiccate seedlings. All of these factors will vary with elevation, where cooler temperatures tend to delay wildflower blooms into the later months of spring.

The community of wildflower lovers is the best resource to find and track wildflower blooms. The Columbia River Gorge, alpine meadows on Mount Rainier, the California hills of Anza-Borrego, Joshua Tree National Park, and other wildflower hotspots are tracked by enthusiasts who report their findings on the web. DesertUSA publishes regular wildflower reports of the desert Southwest and California. Wildflowersearch.com is a wildflower search engine that offers a percentage of confidence for wildflower blooms anywhere in the U.S., sorted by species. The Theodore Payne Foundation has a fantastic wildflower hotline that provides updates every Friday from March through May. And of course, call your park ranger, and search through Instagram for geotagged posts to see where and how intensely the flowers are blooming.

Last year was an exceptional one for wildflowers along the West Coast thanks to exceptional rainfall over the winter, and California experienced a super bloom for the record books. Super blooms are relatively rare phenomena, but you can still find beautiful wildflower hikes when the time is right, and these 45 adventures are some of the best places to find them in the West.

Washington

Oregon

*Please note that due to the recent Eagle Creek fire, some hikes on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge are closed.

California

Utah

Colorado

Idaho

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