Popular Places For Wildflower Viewing in Colorado

Nature and Wildlife - Pika

Rocky Mountain National Park

As you set foot in Rocky Mountain National Park this summer, the snow-capped mountain peaks and surrounding pine trees will most likely grab your immediate attention, but what's right beneath your feet is something that should not go unnoticed.

Willow Creek Trail, Roxborough State Park

Red rocks and wildflowers dominate the landscape of this 3,245-acre state park, where the ecology is diverse and unique. This area is known as a transition zone — a location that encapsulates the natural transition of the plains' rise into the dramatic heights of the Rocky Mountains. Because of this varied environment, certain types of wildflowers usually found miles apart can be seen growing close to each other. This park is popular because of its proximity to Denver. As a day-use park, it’s ideal for getting away from city distractions and reconnecting with the serene beauty of Colorado wildflowers.

Nearby Cities

Denver, Littleton, Sedalia, Castle Rock

Flowers You’ll See

Canada violet, larkspur, golden banner and chiming bells, poppy mallow, orchid penstemon, sego lily, American vetch, cinquefoil, Drummond milkvetch, purple milkvetch, sulphurflower, tall scarlet paintbrush, orange paintbrush, scarlet gaura, white gilia, scarlet gilia, prairie coneflower, copper mallow, spring beauties, silvery lupine, birdfoot violet, purple prairie flower, white prairie flower, green gentian

Prime Bloom Time

Early May through June

Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

If you want to view wildflowers in Colorado’s true wild, then you need to take the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. Accessible only by a four-wheel-drive vehicle with high clearance, this rugged country serves as the perfect growing grounds for a multitude of wildflowers. It is important to stay on all designated roads at all times — getting stuck is a common occurrence for those who decide to go off-road. The route follows 63 miles of unimproved road and reaches heights of 12,800 feet. There are many hiking spots along the way, so you can get out and take a closer look.

Nearby Cities

Silverton, Lake City and Ouray

Wildflowers You’ll See

Tufted hairgrass, alpine timothy, bog sedge, rushes, bistort, Colorado blue columbine, avens, larkspur, gentian, geranium, Jacob’s ladder, monkshood, catchfly, phlox and bluebells

Rabbit Valley Recreation Area

Near the Colorado River, you’ll find the Rabbit Valley Recreation Area. In an expanse of 24 square miles, high-mountain desert terrain prevails in the semi-arid climate. Found growing among wind-sculpted sandstone, wildflowers add a welcome burst of color. And with the elements to contend with, these flowering plants are as hearty as they are colorful. The Bureau of Land Management operates this area, where you can enjoy wildflowers in a multitude of ways. Take a horseback ride through the area and get a view of the sweeping panoramas while atop your mount. Or hike it yourself on the area's many miles of hiking trails. Then relax after a long day at one of three designated campsites.

Nearby City

Grand Junction (follow I-70 west to the Rabbit Valley exit. Turn left over I-70. Follow the road a short way until you reach Rabbit Valley)

Wildflowers You’ll See

Mariposa lily, double bladderpod, globemallow, Jones’ blue star, glandular phacelia and grand buckwheat

Prime Bloom Time

Late April to June

Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area

Development and industry have been kept at bay in this naturalists' paradise. Many of the vistas in the area display what the first European settlers of the land saw: perfect, unadulterated Colorado prairie. In addition to vibrant wildflowers, you may also spot a bald eagle or hawk — common visitors to the area on their hunt for prey. The paved Fossil Creek Trail is an easily walked 2.4-mile trip through the prairie. Meandering along this path will bring you to a number of interpretive signs providing information on the terrain.

Nearby City

Fort Collins (one mile south of Harmony Road on the west side of County Road 17)

Flowers You’ll See

Nuttall’s violet, upright prairie coneflower, milkweeds, narrowleaf stoneseed and beardtongues

Prime Bloom Time

June through August

Goose Creek and Molly Gulch

The most defining feature of this area used to be the granite hoodoos and rock arches. Today, it’s a blooming landscape healing from wildfire. The infamous 2002 Hayman Fire left a lasting imprint on the more than 100,000 acres it touched. Within clearings of the charred remains of a scorched forest grow a multitude of wildflowers — proof that from destruction grows beauty. Fortunately, the fire did not spread to the entire region. Lush green hiking trails stand in stark contrast to those that were burnt. Plan a two-day camping trip to enjoy the scenery of this area. The trails near Goose Creek offer primitive tent-camping sites.

Nearby City

Deckers on Highway 126. Turn west on Matukat Road for roughly eight miles.

Flowers You’ll See

Smooth aster, yarrow, bellflower, blanket flower, bergamont, fireweed, nodding onion, spreading dogbane geranium, honeysuckle, blazingstar, Woods’ rose, Canada violet and black-eyed Susan

Prime Bloom Time

April through early June

Copley Lake

If you’ve never seen a Crested Butte summer, the Wildflower Capital of Colorado, we’re here to tell you that it’s beautiful even without the blush of blooms. But the wildflowers will certainly mesmerize you with their beauty and provide your photo lens with an overwhelming amount of inspiration on the five-mile path to Copley Lake, a secluded alpine pond that happens to be one of the guided tours in the town’s annual party for wildflowers. The 1,000-foot elevation gain makes this a challenging route, but it doesn’t get much better than this. Visit during the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival in July to be immersed in wildflower celebrations and to chum around with like-minded folks who share your passion for beauty.

Nearby City

Crested Butte

Level

Advanced

Most likely to be in bloom

July

Rabbit Ears Peak Trail

While the peak may not resemble its namesake as much as it had in the past due to erosion, the Rabbit Ears Peak Trail near Steamboat Springs still rewards with phenomenal wildflower blooms in mid to late summer. The trail is six miles round-trip, but meadows along the route will tantalize your senses well before you reach the summit, making this trail perfect for wildflower hunters of all ages and abilities. The Dumont Lake picnic area and campground provides bathroom facilities as well as the perfect respite to absorb the dazzling efflorescence. Bring sunscreen, as most of the trail length is open to sun rays.

Nearby City

Steamboat Springs

Level

Moderate; difficult on the final ascent

Most likely to be in bloom

Late July

Lory State Park

For one of the best chances to experience colorful hillsides, head west of Fort Collins to Lory State Park’s 20 miles of trails. A prime wildflower route is 1.7-mile Arthur’s Rock Trail, where a confetti of blooms play peek-a-boo behind rock formations. Typically more than five dozen varieties of wildflowers have roots along this trail. Hikers will weave in and out of open meadows and forested areas prior to reaching the summit at 6,780 feet. Take a breather at the top while enjoying the panoramic view of the Front Range.

Nearby City

Fort Collins

Level

Moderate to difficult

Most likely to be in bloom

Mid-June

Cub Lake/The Pool Loop, Rocky Mountain National Park

The odds are in your favor for a memorable trip no matter where you choose to go in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park to find wildflowers in bloom. We’d like to entice you to try Cub Lake/The Pool Loop, which is often overlooked, but nevertheless has a tremendous variety of flora on the full loop (6.2 miles) and the option for a shorter hike out from Cub Lake (4.6 miles). As long as the crew that’s with you is up for it, we highly suggest completing the full loop to experience upward of 80 wildflower varieties.

Nearby City

Estes Park

Level

Easy to moderate

Most likely to be in bloom

July

Hessie Trailhead

Easily accessed from the Denver metro area, the Hessie Trailhead near Eldora Mountain Resort is an ideal three-mile route for visitors trying to get acclimated to higher elevations and families with all age ranges and abilities. Within 15 to 30 minutes of starting the hike, you’ll see a bounty of wildflowers, so don’t fret if you’re not prepped for the long haul. When you’ve reached Lost Lake, you’ve made it to the halfway point. Abandoned cabins are reminders of the area’s mining history, while glimpses of Eldora’s ski runs, a waterfall and a beaver colony (not to mention a diverse range of wildflowers) create a visual feast enticing enough for even the most challenging to impress. This is a popular spot, so visit early in the day or on weekdays to avoid crowds.

Nearby City

Nederland

Level

Easy

Most likely to be in bloom

July

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