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Jared Kennedy | 06.29.2016

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.

Washington

Wildflowers on the High Divide Trail. Photo by Heron Marychild.

Oregon

Magenta paintbrush in Jefferson Park. Photo by Tyson Gillard.

California

Wildflowers bloom on the Sierra Buttes Trail. Photo by Aron Bosworth.

British Columbia

Wildflowers in the valley above Lake Magog. Photo by Daniel Sherman.

Idaho

Lupine blankets the summit of Picket Mountain in late July. Photo by Matt Leidecker.

Utah

A ruby-throated hummingbird in spring on Catherine's Pass Trail. Photo by Kyle Jenkins.
  • Broads Fork Trail in the Wasatch Mountains. Wildflowers bloom in late spring and early summer.
  • Lake Blanche Trail in the Wasatch Mountains. Wildflowers bloom in late spring and early summer.
  • Mount Peale in the La Sal Mountains. Wildflowers bloom in July and August.
  • Delano Peak in the Tushar Mountains. Wildflowers bloom in late spring and early summer.
  • Catherine's Pass Trail in the Wasatch Mountains. Wildflowers bloom in late spring and early summer.

Colorado

Golden Banner carpets the meadow on the Crags Crest Trail. Photo by Denis LeBlanc.

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