September 3, 2021 | LIFE | By Abby Mercier | Photo by Maren Greene

If you’re anything like me, wildflowers are the highlight of any outdoor experience — be it hiking, biking, walking downtown, or just sitting on your front porch.

In the past, I’ve never paid much attention to when these vibrant pops of color take root, or exactly what they are; I simply “ooh” and “ahh” at the spectacle. In fact, I was recently on a hike with my friend who kindly requested I quiet down about the many different shades of indigo and petal patterns. [1] 

Lucky for us wildflower enthusiasts, Colorado is the perfect place to view a variety of delectable colors; Crested Butte, Colo. is considered the “wildflower capital of the nation.” I can personally attest to this, as I was in Crested Butte last fall (which is fairly late to spot flowers) and they were still blooming all over the place — the next bucket list item is to get there in July!

According to multiple wildflowerists’ blogs, there are three main seasons for wildflowers: April-June, June-August, and August-October. The good news is you can still get out there and see some of Colorado’s most popular wildflowers!

Colorado is known for having an abundance of Indian paintbrush, bluebells, Rocky Mountain bee plant, the iconic fireweed, and of course the state flower, the blue columbine. The beauty of these flowers is their kaleidoscope [2] of colors: it’s not uncommon to see a field of flowers representing each color in the rainbow.

Now, the question we’ve all grappled with — can you pick them? Unfortunately, you cannot. It is technically illegal to pick wildflowers in Colorado state parks, but really, we should be following Leave No Trace (LNT) principles regardless of the legality. So instead, enjoy the moment, take lots of pictures, and, quite literally, stop and smell the flowers.

Some good places across the state to see wildflowers include Crested Butte, Maroon Bells in Aspen, American Basin in the San Juans, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Nederland. 

Locally, Elk Park Trail, Garden of the Gods, Ute Valley Park, Red Rocks Open Space, and most of the other popular walking/hiking spots are known for great wildflower viewing. But to be honest, some of my favorite flowers are the ones I’ve found growing wildly in neighbors’ zero-scape yards; you don’t need a car to witness their beauty!

And if you get really into the whole wildflower thing, you could even support a local small business and purchase a (very cute, might I add) pocket-sized wildflower identification book from Poor Richard’s bookstore.

Happy flowering!


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