Where to Spot the Dreamiest Blooms This Wildflower Season

cooks meadow halfdome
Cooks Meadow in Yosemite, getting ready for an explosion of wildflowers

Picture this: you’re crushing the hike of your life, your thighs are burning, and your lungs are on fire when suddenly, you spot a garden of wildflowers dancing in the wind.

It’s pure magic!

Well, good news, gals! Wildflower season is upon us, so it’s time to hit the trails and get exploring. So go ahead, stop, and smell the flowers!

Wildflower Season Around The US

It’s springtime, babes, which means everything’s in bloom! As temperatures rise across the nation and the icy regions continue to thaw, wildflowers start poking their heads up through the soil.

In most of the country, peak wildflower season lasts from late April to early August. You’ll catch different species in bloom depending on where you are or even your elevation. Hotter, lower altitude regions see buds emerge earlier than frostier, higher landscapes. If you really want to see all the wild flora you can, head out now!

Top National Parks With Flowers

From mighty mountains to lush forests to expansive deserts, America’s national parks are already pretty darn spectacular. But what if you added thousands of dreamy blooms to the mix? 

It’s a recipe for pure magic. 

Here are 11 of the best national parks to explore during this wildflower season.

Yosemite National Park, California

Come for the mountain climbing, and stay for the wildflowers! Yosemite National Park’s 11,000-foot elevation range is perf for summit scrambles AND growing the most gorge array of flora. A quarter of Cali’s native plant species live here thanks to the expansive habitat variation throughout the park. It’s the ultimate California adventure!

hiking through wildflowers in yosemite
Hiking through wildflowers in Yosemite

Monkeyflowers, buckwheat, and lupines dot the landscape at every turn. And the staggered blooming times in each part of the park means the farther you venture, the more flowers you’ll find!

Lower elevations on the west side welcome spring first, with tufted poppies, evening primrose, and goldenrod shining through. Ascend Glacier Point Road to spot forget-me-nots, orchids, and snow plants, then head to Tuolumne Meadows, where shooting stars and elephant heads show in late June.

Come July, even the park’s rockiest, highest points home buttercups, angelica, and wallflowers.

Want to discover some wildflowers in Yosemite IRL?? Join us 🙂

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Zion National Park, Utah

Minimal rain, soaring temps, and blowing winds mean growing conditions are tough in Zion. Yet thousands of plant species thrive against the red rocks! Once the late April melt brings some moisture to the region, it’s wildflowers galore. And with some luck (and enough showers), you might even catch a second bloom in fall!

Wildflowers had to undergo some pretty cool adaptations to thrive in this rugged landscape. Bridge’s evening primrose and sacred dutra only peak out at night, when they can get some much-needed reprieve from the heat, while drought-tolerant globemallow and desert paintbrush live their best lives in the desert.

But that’s not all. Tiny waterways within the park support more delicate blooms. The park’s famous “hanging gardens” grow from the sides of cliff walls. Explore hikes like Weeping Rock and Riverside Walk to spot these flowering plants.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Only 90 minutes from Zion, it makes sense to add Bryce Canyon to your hunt for wildflowers. And despite their proximity, it’s not all “been there, done that.”

wild flowers in bryce canyon

Altitude differences between the two national parks create a staggered blooming season. So what you see in Bryce will have already passed its peak in Zion. It’s like time-traveling!

Catch blue columbine in Bryce’s south end, Markagunt penstemon in mountain meadows, and prickly pear cactus or Utah state flower, the sego lily, in drier regions.

cta - zion bryce

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Springtime transforms Yellowstone into beautiful gardens sprawling parkwide. Aptly named spring beauties kick off the wildflower season in April with larkspur, phlox, Marsh marigold, and more peaking up mid May.

You’ll glimpse new blossoms with every activity you check off your Yellowstone bucket list. Soaking in Mammoth Hot Springs? Look for bitterroot! Hiking to Dunraven Pass? Orchids, goldeneyes, and arnica dazzle the mountain landscape. And don’t forget to admire the park’s official flower, the fringed gentian, surrounding the geyser basins.

Maybe you’ll even spot some animals chowing down! Tiny critters and grizzlies alike rely on the colorful display of petals for food.

yellowstone cta

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Don’t let the cliffs and rock faces trick you — the Grand Canyon is thriving with blooms. Five unique ecosystems exist in this Arizona national park! Plant life is diverse here, from lush boreal forests to all that dry desert glory.

Each of these mixed landscapes supports a gorgeous array of wildflowers. Asters love the park’s sandy soils, yarrow soars in the sub-alpine elevation, and watch for stunning blue flax in the inner canyon’s meadows. Spot them all as you climb and camp the backcountry with us!

See what kinds of wildflowers Explorer Chicks are seeing on their trip to Grand Canyon:

These flowers aren’t just for looks, though! Lupine balances the sandy soil’s nutrient levels, while resilient thickleaf penstemon helps regenerate the canyon’s pinyon-juniper woodlands after wildfires strike. Plus, so many blossoms double as medicinal plants. It’s seriously awe-worthy.  

cta - grand canyon

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, Tennessee

It’s a no-brainer that the place nicknamed “Wildflower National Park” makes this list. Flowers bloom year-round in this southeast haven. Stunning flora is guaranteed no matter when you make the trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Spring ephemerals emerge briefly from February to April, coloring the park with bleeding hearts, lady slipper orchids, and columbine. Got any diehard nature lovers here? Visit the park’s annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage festival to celebrate the blooms in full force!

wild flowers in smoky mountains

By summer, the park buzzes with sunny black-eyed susans, stunning (and famous!) mountain laurels, and shrubs of rhododendrons. Fall brings goldenrod, coneflowers, and tons of aster species before witch hazel’s yellow blooms get the gardens glowing all winter long.

cta - smokies

Olympic National Park, Washington

Few things are prettier than alpine gardens gleaming with wildflowers. That’s why Olympic National Park is a must-visit location. No shortage of blooms here…but you gotta know where to look! The south and west sides support flourishing buds in early spring, so head here to catch those blooms in view.

wild flowers in Olympic National Park

And don’t let those icy, higher elevations get ya down. You bet your butt that as soon as the snow melts enough to let sunlight in, avalanche and glacier lilies start peeking out!

By summer, the entire park is a garden begging to be explored. Especially keen wildflower aficionados can hit the trails searching for endemic species like Piper’s bellflower or Olympic violet, only found here.

cta - san juans

Wrangell-St Elias National Park, Alaska

Alaska’s short growing season has nothing on this park’s wildflowers — they’re made for tundra livin’, baby! Like all national parks of the north, Wrangell-St Elias welcomes a late spring.

wildflowers on women's backpacking trip in alaska
Wildflowers on our women’s-only backpacking trip in Alaska

Slowly but surely, the chilly temperatures rise, and flowers bloom in May. It’s crocus time! Soft “hairs” insulate these cute purple plants, keeping them nice and toasty while the park thaws.

Maybe you wouldn’t have guessed Alaska would host one of the best national parks for wildflower viewing, but even moss transforms into flower beds here. Fragrant, bright pink moss campion blooms in lichen throughout summer. And from June to July, search for bluebells, prickly roses, wild sweet peas, and fireweed while climbing those glaciers.

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Glacier National Park, Montana

Step into a painting as you enter the absolute haven that is Glacier National Park in full bloom. Late spring and early winter? No problem! Glacier lilies, purple asters, and beargrass are abundant despite the short growing season.

wild flowers in Glacier National Park

Take in those gorgeous fields of Lewis’ Monkeyflowers, northern eyebright, and clematis while wandering the incredible hiking paths that line the park. Peak season lasts from late June to mid July. Visit them for the best sights!

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Keep your eyes on the ground! It takes a lot of effort for wildflowers to bloom in the southern California desert. So to cope with all that scorching sun and blowing winds, flowers grow low.

wild flowers in Joshua Tree National Park

All that warmth means the blooming season kicks off early here. Desert Canterbury bells, Arizona lupine, and poppies sprout in January in low altitude regions, then desert globemallow, paintbrush, and pincushions spread across higher elevations in early March. By April, even the mountain trails see desert mariposa and black bush in bloom.

Some years, when the conditions are perf, (aka when the desert’s blessed with a ton of rain), Joshua Tree EXPLODES with flowers. A superbloom, if you will. It’s a rare phenomenon but a total spectacle. So grab some pals and get hiking to see what you can see!

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Brace yourself for a jaw-dropping scene as you enter Mount Rainier National Park. On the hunt for wildflowers? These mountain gardens are world-renowned (and a short drive from San Juan Island).

wild flowers in Mt Ranier National Park

Rainbows of tiger lilies, lady’s slipper orchids, and pacific lupine are just a few of the hundreds of blossom types you’ll spot on Mount Rainier. You’ll meet completely different species as you wander from the dense forest to the subalpine parklands!

And the climb is totally worth it, BTW. Fighting the short growing season, blooms are even more extravagant the closer you get to the peak. It’s picturesque no matter where you go.

Ready to Chase Wildflowers?

Got some spots to add to the list? Join our discussion on Facebook! Okay, enough talking about flowers. Let’s see them IRL! Join our women-only adventures as we hike, climb, and scramble through the country’s best national parks. Blooms, besties, and badass times guaranteed. Join Explorer Chick today!

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Meet the Writer

megan wray writer

Megan Wray

Megan Wray is a queer, mixed-race Japanese-Canadian freelance writer based on Treaty 1 Territory. Passionate about pleasure, identity, and anti-oppression, Megan’s fuelled by meaningful chats about topics that aren’t “appropriate” for dinner table conversation. When she’s not writing, you can find Megan cooking vegan food, singing to live music, and trying to understand astrology.

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