6 Best Places to Find Wildflowers in Colorado
Wildflowers in Colorado. Photo Credit: Adventure_Photo (iStock)
Sometimes you just need to stop and smell the roses – and the wildflowers. Luckily, for both tourists and Colorado natives, there are plenty of places for those who are florally inclined to not just take great pictures but to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery the state has to offer. Located in just about every part of Colorado, these destinations are certain to be memorable. Typically, mid-July to mid-August are the best time to catch these displays.
1. Crested Butte, Colorado
This Colorado mountain town is called “the wildflower capital of the world” for good reason. It’s home to the annual Crested Butte Wildflower Festival and a vibrant array of flora that is easy to access from town. In fact, most of the best areas are less than five miles from the center of Crested Butte. This leads to easy wildflower access by either walking, hiking or biking. Or, if you prefer a panoramic view, take a chairlift up to the top of Mount Crested Butte.
2. American Basin, Colorado
If you’re not satisfied by one spot along the 63-mile Alpine Loop in the rugged San Juan Mountains, don’t fret: It’s impossible to leave unhappy. The road is taken mostly by American Basin pilgrims.
If you’re up for the 26-mile drive from Lake City – which feels longer by the travel on mostly dirt roads – then you’ll arrive to the short trail into the basin. A wide variety of flora has made home under dramatic peaks, in a valley where a waterfall steadily runs. Just make sure you have a four-wheel drive vehicle.
3. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
You can’t go wrong scouting wildflowers in Colorado’s most popular national park. Like these other destinations, you won’t avoid the crowds, and that’s because the trail network has something for everybody.
The 5.5-mile round trip hike to Ouzel Falls through Wild Basin is a favorite. At lower elevations, the slightly longer Cub Lake loop offers the special treat of yellow lilies floating in the place known as The Pool. Another rare opportunity is to walk among the resilient flowers of the tundra from the Alpine Visitor Center.
4. Aspen, Colorado
At the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, one of the most popular sightseeing events is had on the trying, 11-mile trail to Aspen, which competes for that “capital” status. The reliable folks at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies have some trail recommendations: Keep it close to town with the American Lake or River Run trails. Or, ascend to high-alpine areas on the Lost Man loop or Grizzly Lake Trail. The options are many.
5. Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado
Make Nederland your base and explore the pristine backcountry that surrounds the hamlet west of Boulder. Indian Peaks Wilderness straddles the Continental Divide and is sandwiched by the James Peak Wilderness to the south and Rocky Mountain National Park to the north, so beauty abounds. Lost Lake is well-known for its visually stunning wildflowers. Access the lake via the Hessie Trail, the starting point also for the stunning Devil’s Thumb Pass near 12,000 feet.
6. Yankee Boy Basin, Colorado
You’ll need a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle for this trek from Ouray. Along with paintbrush, columbines, and bluebells – to name a few – you’ll also get the delight of historical mining sites on the steep, rocky road. And did we mention the San Juan Mountain majesty?