Spring Wildflowers Put on a Magnificent Show

East or west, Colorado is the perfect place to enjoy the abundant beauty of the spring and summer seasons


Colorado’s wildflowers begin to unfold their petals in April and May. In the eastern portion of the state, blooms begin to show off earlier than in the Rocky Mountains due to the later snow melt. Blooms at higher elevations are at their peak in July and August. Treat yourself to a day trip—or a longer stay—and enjoy Colorado’s stunning wildflower display during our warmer months.

Start the wildflower season early by heading east to avoid crowds and traffic to see colorful wildflowers contrast with unique rock formations on the eastern plains. Pawnee Natural Grassland northeast of Greeley is home to the Pawnee Buttes Trail. This is a four-mile round trip trek populated with brilliant yellow mountain bladderpod alongside various species of milk vetch. A trip to La Junta leads wildflower seekers to Picket Wire Canyon. A limited elevation 11.3-mile hike treats viewers to western wallflowers and purple prairie vervain.

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Photo by Laura Sheets

Once the snow melts along the I-70 corridor, blankets of brilliant wildflowers are revealed. Those who prefer a leisurely hike can enjoy the columbines along the two-mile loop around the Lower Cataract Loop Trail near Silverthorne. Dillon’s Herman Gulch Trail is a bit more ambitious, with a 6.6-mile round trip hike that showcases colorful fields of blooms up to Herman Lake.

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Photo by Laura Sheets

The fertile soil in Colorado’s mountain ranges creates an ideal habitat for vibrant wildflowers to flourish. Meadows are alive with glacier lilies, lupines and sunflower varieties that grow unchecked and provide brilliant splashes of color to the landscape. The San Juan National Forest enjoys peak bloom in late July and hosts an abundance of columbine, Jacob’s ladder, Indian paintbrush and bluebells. Ice Lakes, Columbine Lake and Emerald Lake are all perfect spots for wildflower viewing.

Crested Butte hosts its annual Wildflower Festival every July. The festival has been a popular destination since 1986. Thousands flock to the town each year to enjoy ten days of wildflower hikes, birding, gardening, and photography and art workshops. Great food and lots of live entertainment elevate the festival experience.

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Photo by Laura Sheets

For experienced wildflower seekers, the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway is accessible with a 4×4 vehicle with high clearance. The rugged area is a perfect environment for many types of blooms and follows 63 miles of unimproved road to a height of 12,800 feet. With many hiking spots along the way, there are numerous opportunities to take a closer look on foot. Off-roading is discouraged in this area. Be sure to heed the ‘Stay on the Trail’ guidance crucial to protecting the Loop’s delicate terrain.

Categories: Colorado Destinations