It’s a weird time of year for much of the U.S. with daily weather ranging from relatively warm and sunny days to gray, cold, and damp.
Nonetheless, we — and many of our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers — have brighter days on the brain.
Specifically, the kind of days that yield vast areas of stunning wildflower blooms.
That’s why I put together a list below of some of the best places in the country to see wildflower blooms, with the help of the folks at JetSetter.com.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California
March is the perfect time to be in Coyote Canyon, part of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Big rigs will probably want to avoid this spot that’s only accessible by a single dirt road, but roughing the terrain (and politely passing by other wildflower gawkers) means catching sight of electric yellow Parish’s poppies, desert lilies, dune evening primrose, desert chicory, sand verbena, and more. If crowds aren’t your thing — wildflower viewing is a spectator sport in this neck of the woods — opt for Henderson or Palm Canyons as both are hitting their mid-bloom stride.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Known as the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado,” Crested Butte has a lot to live up to every spring and summer. Without fail, however, it shines each season showing off its most colorful arrays during its eponymous wildflower festival held every July (July 10-19 in 2020). The hills are full of lilies, primrose, honeysuckle, iris, marigolds, and hundreds of others.
Antelope Valley, California
While the fiery orange flowers will awaken to blanket the entire 8-mile Mojave Desert Grassland tract (and probably last through April), the prettiest of the bunch are usually on display in the eastern end of the park. Check in with the California Parks Department for bloom updates and current photos before you plan your trek to ensure you hit a truly explosive patch. (As of the most recent update on Feb. 19, flowers are just starting to bloom).
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Wildflowers may begin blooming in the lower elevations of the Pinto Basin and along the park’s south boundary in February and at higher elevations in March and April. Desert regions above 5,000 feet may have plants blooming as late as June. (Check out the Joshua Tree National Park Wildflower Watch for the latest.)
The extent and timing of spring wildflower blooms in Joshua Tree vary from one year to the next. Fall and winter precipitation and spring temperatures are key environmental factors affecting the spring blooming period. Normally, desert annuals germinate between September and December. Many need a good soaking rain to get started. In addition to rains at the right time, plants also require temperatures to warm a bit before flower stalks will grow. Green-leaf rosettes may cover the ground in January, but flower stalks wait until temperatures rise.
Glacier National Park, Montana
More than a thousand species of wildflowers carpet the aspen groves, alpine tundras, lowlands, and steep slopes of Glacier National Park annually. That means plenty of purple asters, Indian pipes, geraniums, buttercups, and more. The most tenacious of the flowers here — the alpine buds — overcome severe winds, harsh temperatures, occasional flurries, and the harsh level of ultraviolet light that comes with such a high elevation, just to peek their heads out for a couple months every spring and summer.
Death Valley National Park, California
Death Valley comes to life each spring under a dousing of vibrant gold, purple, and pink blossoms. Scattered throughout the 5,219-million-square-mile expanse, tucked among the desert slopes, mountain peaks, and badlands, visitors will find lush pockets of dandelions, sunbonnets, mariposas, sage, and more; a tremendous accomplishment given the park’s affinity for extreme droughts and chart-topping temps.
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
At its peak, Saguaro National Park bursts at the seams with colorful blooms. Hunt down agave, desert honeysuckle, Indian paintbrushes, prairie clovers, and saguaros, of course, by cruising along Bajada Loop Drive, or try Picture Rocks Road for an eyeful of golden poppies.
Chihuahuan Desert, Texas
The southwest Texas’ stretch of Chihuahuan Desert in Big Bend National Park can reach up to 115+ degrees in the summer months and receives less than 8 inches of rainfall a year, making it a pretty inhospitable — unless you’re a prickly pear or creosote bush, that is. Despite the ultra-harsh climate, a spat of desert willows, rock nettles, marigolds, and prickly poppies briefly appear each spring.
Hill Country, Texas
April in Hill Country means peak wildflower bloom. Landscape architects work hard to cultivate 800,000 acres of highway median blossoms, sowing new seeds and pruning existing buds. The best wildflower vistas can be found by following the scenic, self-guided Texas Hill Country Wildflower Trail, where you’ll spot the finest blooms Austin, San Antonio, Fredericksburg, and San Marcos have to offer — miles of bluebonnets (the Lone Star state’s official flower) mingling with Texas paintbrushes, winecups, and primrose.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
A very diverse crop of wildflowers bloom across North Cascades National Park’s more than half-million acres and multitude of habitats (think: alpine basins, lush meadows, and rocky summits). This means that something or other will be germinating from the end of February right on through September. Among the bunch are deep magenta calypso orchids, sunny yellow lilies, and white, cotton-like beargrass.