Best time to travel to Colorado

Indian Paintbrush in Colorado 2024

Stunning red flowers add brilliant accents to Colorado landscapes

Best time: May–July

Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush
Summer in Colorado Mountains

This flower has many names: Indian paintbrush, Alpine paintbrush, prairie-fire, or castilleja. Its bright flowering clusters indeed resemble a paintbrush dipped into paint. It comes in red as well as pink, orange and yellow colors. Indian paintbrush blooms from May through July. It's abundant on the grasslands of Colorado as well as in the mountains, especially at Alpine meadows and woodlands. It can grow up to 22 inches (55 cm) high.

Indian Paintbrush is quite common in the southwestern part of Colorado. You can find lots of these bright flowers at Almont triangle and Flat Top, Crested Butte Mountain, Kebler Pass, Three Lakes Loop, West Maroon Pass, and Trail#403. San Juan Mountains is another good spot to enjoy Indian paintbrush in large concentration. Engineer Pass trail and the valley located above the town of Ouray are dotted with red flowers during the paintbrush blooming season in late July.

Interestingly, paintbrush is considered edible and was consumed by some of the Native American tribes. But that only concerns flowers, as roots and stems of the plant can be rather toxic.

Practical info

Where are some top locations for viewing Indian Paintbrush in Colorado?

Almont Triangle, Crested Butte Mountain, Kebler Pass, Three Lakes Loop, West Maroon Pass, and Trail#403 are some of the top spots for viewing Indian Paintbrush in Colorado. San Juan Mountains is another excellent location to catch the plant in large concentration during the late July season. Show more

In what season should one plan a visit to Colorado for Indian Paintbrush viewing?

May-July is the best time to visit Colorado for Indian Paintbrush viewing. During this blooming season, the plant covers the grasslands, woodlands, and mountains of the state, adding to undeniably beautiful landscapes. Alpine meadows are especially abundant during this time. Show more

What is the maximum height that Indian Paintbrush can grow in Colorado?

Indian Paintbrush can grow up to an impressive height of 22 inches (55 cm) in Colorado. This plant is seen to bloom abundantly from May through July in various locations in the state. It adds vivid hues to the breathtaking landscapes of the region, often found on grasslands and mountains of Colorado. Show more

What are some uses of Indian Paintbrush by Native Americans and is it generally edible?

The flowers of Indian Paintbrush are the only edible parts of the plant that some Native American tribes consumed. However, the stems and roots of the plant can be harmful. The plant was historically used to treat stomach pains, headaches, infections, and other ailments. It was also used for decorative purposes, and the red color was particularly symbolic. Show more

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