Are you a fan of botany and do you love learning about native plants? Or do you just like to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find peace in nature? Maybe you’re looking for a beautiful wildflower photo opportunity, or maybe you’re interested in all three.
It’s easy to appreciate the beauty of nature all around us, in our neighborhoods, our local parks, and even our backyards. But to see nature at her finest, you can’t beat the national parks – especially if you love wildflowers.
No matter who you are and what your interests are, there’s nothing quite like the experience of soaking up the beauty of fields of wildflowers in spring. But to do that, you need to know just where to look.
From California to Virginia and in many states in between, the national parks offer some of the best opportunities to see nature in her full glory. Take a look at these top national parks for marveling at wildflowers.
Mount Rainier National Park
Beneath the alpine trees, you’ll find the wildflower meadows that surround the icy volcano in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. The peak rises up to 14,410 feet above sea level, and beneath the beauty of the volcano, you can enjoy the sight of violet-colored wildflowers. Check out the Alta Vista Trail and look for fields of lupine, bistorts, and asters. Wait until late July and August to see wildflowers in shades of gold, blue, and magenta.
Glacier National Park
Explore another beautiful northern park where you’ll be stunned by the gorgeous wildflowers. At Glacier National Park in Montana, you’ll see melting glaciers, valleys, and of course, alpine meadows covered with wildflowers. Glacier lilies and purple asters are two of the over 1,000 species growing in the park. You’ll see blooms in lower elevations in the spring and higher elevations in the summer.
Shenandoah National Park
Head east towards Washington, D.C., and stop at the beautiful Shenandoah National Park. With over 200,000 acres of land, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot the wildflowers. In spring you can even sign up for a Wildflower Weekend Program where you can participate in walks and talks all about the wildflowers. Shenandoah National Park even offers a wildflower calendar that tells you when the different species are in bloom.
Redwood National Park
For almost the whole year you can spot wildflowers at Redwood National Park in California. Start by gazing at some of the tallest trees on Earth, then explore the wild rivers and the 40 miles of coastline. While you’re enjoying the incredible nature around you, look for periwinkle forget-me-nots, California poppies, western dog violets, and golden mission bells.
Pinnacles National Park
While you’re in California, head to Pinnacles National Park near Los Angeles to experience the wildflowers in bloom. At Pinnacles you’ll find monkeyflowers, blue larkspur, poppies, and more. From March through May over 80% of the park’s plants are in bloom, including milkmaids, shooting stars, peppergrass, and many more. Make sure you visit before mid-June – the wildflowers will mostly be gone by then.
Crater Lake National Park
In Oregon, you’ll find the stunning beauty of Crater Lake National Park. A violent eruption 7,700 years ago caused a tall peak to collapse, and the park contains the deepest lake in the USA. When you explore the beautiful hiking trails in the summer, you’ll have the chance to spot beautiful wildflowers, but only from roughly July to October. Look out for phlox, western springbeauty, purple lupine, and crimson paintbrush.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Head east to Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park where you’ll find berry farms, a working vineyard, and of course, wildflowers. According to Travel + Leisure, “The park sees spring to late summer blooms, with everything from Virginia bluebells to violets to goldenrods bringing these glacier-carved landscapes to life. Catch the Brandywine Gorge Trail or the Kendall Lake Loop to admire the blooming beauties.”
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
You can’t miss Great Smoky Mountain National Park if you want to see gorgeous wildflowers in full bloom. Located in both North Carolina and Tennessee, this national park is renowned for the beauty of its mountains – and its wildflowers in spring. Boasting over 1,500 flowering plants, Great Smoky Mountain National park has the most flower species among all the U.S. national parks.
Starting in February, you can see lady slipper orchids in bloom. In mid-May join in the park’s annual Wildflower Pilgrimage. You can take a nature journaling workshop or participate in an art workshop during this spring program. On the wildflower hikes, you can spot gay wings, rhododendron, bloodroot, toothwort, and yellow-fringed orchids. Summer may be the best time to soak up the beauty of the wildflowers. Gaze upon the coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and the thyme-leaved bluets.
Read More: Hidden Treasures in National Parks