'Tis the season when shutterbugs fill their tanks and hit the road, bound for some of the best nature photography Colorado has to offer for a short time only.
But a camera isn't required to enjoy the state's wildflowers. The images won't soon leave your memory.
The best displays typically show in July and August across the high country. With earlier snow melt, blooms have already started in Crested Butte, which hosts its renowned wildflower festival July 9-18.
Here are other destinations:
American Basin: This is a magical stop along the Alpine Loop, which will require a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle. It's a feast for the eyes along the rugged track, commonly ventured from Lake City. The basin is a splash of color, surrounded by dramatic peaks and fed by a cascading creek.
Indian Peaks Wilderness: Perhaps make Nederland your base, the hamlet through the canyon west of Boulder. The Hessie Trail is heavily trafficked — go on a weekday if you can — and for good reason. The flora captivates en route to Lost Lake and Devil's Thumb Lake farther afield.
Roxborough State Park: Due to its proximity to Denver, this is another spot to expect crowds; on weekends, it's common for parking to reach capacity. But this is a close, family-friendly bet to catch some of the state's iconic blooms such as larkspur, lupin and lilies in a wonderland of red rocks.
Summit County: Whether your path is easy or difficult, you can't go wrong here. An easy option is Lily Pad Lake Trail, through a lush forest perfect for plants. The hike along Saw Mill Creek is also good for kids. For something higher and more demanding, look to Wheeler Lakes and South Willow Falls.
Yankee Boy Basin: Like American, Yankee Boy is another southwest Colorado basin of regular pilgrimage for flower admirers. Along with Indian paintbrush, columbines and bluebells — to name a few — you'll get the intrigue of historic mining sites along the steep, rocky road.