Colorado is a real wildflower paradise due to its diverse landscape and climate types that result in an extremely long blooming season. From the eastern plains to the southwest mountains, the state offers dozens of scenic locations where flowers create picture-perfect carpets. On lower elevations, like eastern plains, wildflowers start to bloom in April and May. On higher elevations, in the Rocky Mountains and southwestern Colorado, wildflowers can be spotted mainly through July and August.
Northern Colorado (April-July)
In Northern Colorado, it's possible to enjoy the spring bloom starting from April. Take a ride to Pawnee National Grassland, located in the heart of the Colorado Eastern Plains. Make some amazing pictures of fields blooming with primrose, nodding onion, and prairie violets. Take a scenic Pawnee Buttes Trail for the best views. In late May or June, you can spot here prairie sunflowers and prickly pear in full bloom. Another good location to see early blooms is Cathy Fromme Prairie near Fort Collins, where flowers pop up in May. Nearby Lory State Park gets most colorful in June. There are about 20 miles(32 km) of trails with spectacular blooms among beautiful rock formations.
The Rocky Mountains National Park and Yampa Valley (July-August)
The real magic of summertime colors and fragrances can be experienced only at Colorado Alpine meadows. For the most vibrant blooms, take Rabbit Ears Peak Trail near Steamboat Springs, where amazing landscapes can be seen in late July and August. The 6-mi trail to the summit can be somewhat difficult due to the steep ascent at the end. Rocky Mountains National Park also boasts plenty wildflower sites. In Estes Park, Cub Lake and The Pool Loop is a perfect one-day hike that will let you see about 80 wildflower varieties in July.
Gunnison Area (late June-July)
If you would like to see the wildflower capital of Colorado, stop by Crested Butte. July is the best time to witness all kinds of blooms there: lupines, columbines, and more. Trail names can give you an idea of what to expect: Daisy Pass, Lupine Trail, Columbine Trail. Rustlers Gulch Trail is most famous for sunflowers. Crested Butte Wildflower Festival marks the peak season for wildflower viewing. If you would like to avoid crowds, Almont Triangle is a quiet spot. The flowers appear there a bit earlier than in Crested Butte. In late June, you can see lots of color: mule’s ears and Indian paintbrush on the hillsides surrounding Almont.
Southern Colorado (July-August)
Great Sand Dunes National Park is famous for its desert landscape. But there are wildflowers in the desert too! Blue penstemon and various subalpine flowers grow on higher elevations. Prairie sunflowers also bloom there in late August. Some of the best wildflower trails can be found in San Juan National Forest, where peak bloom occurs in late July. Enjoy the abundance of columbine, Jacob’s ladder, Indian paintbrush, and bluebells. Ice Lakes, Columbine Lake, and Emerald Lake boast the best wildflower views. Alta Lakes is another beautiful destination in the area. Take the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway and just wonder off the main road to enjoy the see of hairgrass, sedge, rand ushes. This is also where you can encounter famous Colorado blue columbine, geranium, phlox, and bluebells.
Colorado is most beautiful in the summer. Explore its vast plains, jagged mountains, and deep canyons. You will discover a variety of plants native to the southwest, and some of them can definitely surprise you.