September 7, 2023
Spring has arrived, and as the weather begins to warm up, thousands of beautiful wildflowers will start making appearance across the country. Want to experience the magic of frolicking through a field of these bright, sweet smelling flowers this year? Check out these 4 national parks for the best chances of witnessing spring wildflowers.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: North Carolina & Tennessee
This beloved park, often referred to as the “Wildflower National Park,” boasts more than 1,500 unique flowering plants. You can find flowers in the Great Smoky Mountains year-round, but there is something special about spring and the new life it brings. The first group of flowers to make an appearance are known as spring ephemerals. These beauties bloom between February and April and are dormant by May or June. Ephemerals include a variety of flowers like lady slipper orchids, crested dwarf iris, trillium, bleeding heart, little brown jugs, fire pink, and violets. If you want to see these flowers for yourself, the park’s annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage takes place in April.
Shenandoah National Park: Virginia
Between the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains and more than 850 species of wildflowers, it doesn’t get much better than a beautiful spring day in Shenandoah. The first flowers, often bloodroot and hepatica, come to life in late March. As the weather gets warmer, the forest comes alive with trillium, violets, pink lady’s slippers, and wild geraniums. Quaker ladies and bluets create natural borders for the trails, and the month of May brings the well-known pink azaleas (Rhododendron), a common sight along Skyline Drive.
Glacier National Park: Montana
If you’re looking for magical alpine meadows packed full of colorful wildflowers, it’s time to plan a trip to Glacier National park. There are around 1,000 different species of wildflowers in the park that have adapted to withstand the extreme weather and crazy winds. Yellow glacier lilies are usually the first flowers to pop through the snow in early spring, followed by beargrass, shooting star, camas, Indian Pipes, trillium, and geraniums. Purple asters are probably one of the more popular flowers found in the park, but you will have to wait until late summer to see them.
Mount Rainier National Park: Washington
Many would argue that Mount Rainier is home to the world’s best wildflower displays. Thousands of flowers blanket the meadows and slopes every year, their bright colors creating a picturesque scene you could stare at for hours. The first flowers to pop up in the forests during early spring are skunk cabbage, coltsfoot, and trillium. In higher elevations you might see gentians and avalanche lilies, and by the time May arrives, start to look for vanilla leaf, Calypso orchids, foam flower, lily of the valley, and Solomon’s seal.
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