As the snows that blanket the higher elevations of the West melt and the ground thaws in spring and summer, a blanket of wildflowers begins to bloom. Beargrass sprouts its tall, bulbous stem full of small, white flowers. Purple fireweed grows rampantly through the charred remains of recent forest fires. On open, grassy slopes, the bright yellow blossoms of arrowleaf balsamroot carpet a hillside for a brief moment in time. At every elevation in the mountains of the West, wildflowers bloom from early spring to late summer and bring these amazing landscapes to life. Animals come for the fruits and bees for the pollen, collecting and propagating what they can before the cold and snow returns.
As a rule of thumb, follow the last melt of snow in higher elevations and the wildflowers aren't far behind. But there are a few places where these blooms are especially beautiful, where you can camp beside a high mountain lake and take in the fresh alpine air while tromping through fields of flowers and grasses. Here are five such places per state and province in the West that from early summer to early fall will be a great place to go hiking when the flowers are in bloom.