Nestled among Colorado's stately mountains and fertile plains are some of the most beautiful displays of wildflowers in the country. Head out this spring to take in a panorama of flowers you'll never forget in one of these great locations.
Flowers in the High Country
A popular but demanding drive with fantastic flower views is the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, which starts in Silverton. It's a 64-mile loop over very rugged mountain terrain and requires four-wheel drive, but the rewards for the adventurous are great. You'll see paintbrush, columbine, lupine, larkspur, monkshood, and numerous other wildflowers along with wildlife and historical mining areas. For detailed information about this challenging flower tour, see www.silvertonmagazine.com/features/Alpine_Loop.html.
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival
The town of Crested Butte becomes all about wildflowers every summer with the arrival of the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival. From July 7-13, the Wildflower Capital of Colorado hosts a variety of events showcasing the plethora of flowers. Events include Jeep tours, walks and hikes, garden tours, and even workshops if you'd like to try your hand at growing, painting, or photographing the area's wildflowers. For more information about events and registration, visit www.crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com.
For a view of Colorado's prairie wildflowers, visit the Cathy Fromme Prairie in Fort Collins. This unique natural area preserves the original short grass prairie that has since been taken over by settlement and industry in most areas. In addition to self-guided flower tours, you can also register groups for free educational programs. Identification sheets for your wildflower tours can be found at the bulletin board at the trailhead. Depending on the month, flowers can include clover, coneflower, goldenrod, and ground cherry. For a sneak peek at what you might see, check out the website at www.fcgov.com/naturalareas/finder/cathyfromme.
Transition Zone Flowers
The Willow Creek Trail in Roxborough State Park offers visitors a chance to see a transition zone, where plants and wildlife of lower elevations sit side-by-side with plants native to the mountains. Look for milkvetch, sego lily, Canada violet, chiming bells, and larkspur. The best viewing time is early in May through June. For information, directions, and park facilities and activities, see cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/roxborough.
Goose Creek Trail
The Pike Forest, located southwest of Denver, hosts numerous wildflowers. As a result of a wildfire in 2002, many areas of the park harbor flowers that thrive on the nutrients the flames left behind. Goose Creek Trail takes hikers through the southeast sections of the Lost Creek Wilderness in the park. You can also see great views of local rock formations and visit historic mining buildings and machinery. Expect to see the best variety in April through June. Find more information about the trail, how to get there, and park regulations at www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/psicc/recreation/ohv/recarea/?recid=12944&actid=50.
No matter which of these wildflower excursions you choose, the color, variety and quantity of Colorado's spring and early summer flowers are sure to give you a new appreciation for our state's natural beauty.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado