Categories: CampingGuides & hacks

Nature Alert: Where to See Fields of Wildflowers This Spring

Lupines, poppies, bluebbonnets, and more—wildflower season is upon us, with waves of new color coming over the next couple of months as each flower species takes its turn. Whether a full-on superbloom is taking place (like in California!) or just some regular springtime sprouts in fields of wildflowers, you don’t want to suffer from a bout of floral FOMO.

Timing your adventures for maximum blooming is equal parts art, science, and luck. But no worries—we’ve got you covered with this super guide to wildflower camping destinations. As always, please uphold Hipcamp’s value to #LeaveItBetter and adhere to the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace. If flowers are crushed, they cannot re-seed for the next season, so it’s crucial that all visitors stay on trail.

And of course—book your campsite now to get the best spot!

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Ezequiel Gonzalez

Best destinations for camping among fields of wildflowers

Photo by Hipcamp Founder Alyssa Ravasio, Borrego Palm Canyon, CA

California

When to go: March & April
Flowers to see: Poppies, lupine, wild heliotrope, and forget-me-nots

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

The name says it all—this poppy reserve north of Los Angeles draws the masses with eight miles of trails lined with colorful blooms. While poppies are the star attraction, you may also spot fiddlenecks, lupine, and forget-me-nots if visiting during peak blooming season in March or April.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Check out bright wildflowers contrasted against the stark high desert at California’s largest state park. If the conditions are just right, you may even witness a superbloom, in which a whole variety of species blossom in near unison.

Closed for 2024: Lake Elsinore

Although sadly closed for 2024, Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore is a historically vibrant poppy spot just a short drive southwest of LA. In 2019, a 1,600-acre superbloom put this small Southern California city on the wildflower-viewing map, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors. Unfortunately, this has led the town to preventatively close the area for the 2024 wildflower season. Campers can instead head to nearby Chino Hills State Park, or look out for Lake Elsinore’s live poppy cam from home.

Find all of our top tips and best spots to go for a California wildflower getaway: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to a California Superbloom.

Photo by Julie Murrell at Big Bend National Park

Texas

When to go: March & April
Flowers to see: Bluebonnets (the state flower), verbena, Indian paintbrush, and yucca

West Texas: Big Bend Ranch State Park & Big Bend National Park

With over 1,200 species of plants, you’re bound to see more than a few beauties in the Big Bend area of West Texas—especially with both Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park to choose from. While rainy years see the biggest blooms, some flowers—such as bluebonnets and yucca—blossom in even drier conditions.

McKinney Falls State Park

You don’t have to stray far from Austin to see wildflowers bloom—some of the state’s best viewing is just a short drive from the capital in McKinney Falls State Park. The Onion Creek and Rock Shelter hiking trails have some of the highest concentrations of flowers to see.

Texas Hill Country

The rolling hills in this part of the state are prime growing territory for wildflowers, with thousands in hues of blue, red, purple, and yellow blanketing big swathes of Texas Hill Country. Take a drive around the Highland Lakes Bluebonnet Trail for some of the best views.

Bluebonnets are Texas’ darling come spring, and we’ve got a full guide to finding them across the state: Where to See Blooming Bluebonnets in Texas This Spring.

Photo by Rob Brink

Virginia

When to go: March & April
Flowers to see: Ox-eye daisies, wild geraniums, columbine, and bluets

Shenandoah National Park

Wildflowers make up a big part of the plant life at Shenandoah, with 862 different species of colorful flowers found within its boundaries. Spring blooms are at their finest at lower elevations, particularly along waterways, while late spring blooms are best viewed in the Skyline Drive and Big Meadows areas.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Some 80 percent of the Blue Ridge Parkway‘s vascular species are wildflowers, with plenty that aren’t generally found elsewhere. Keep an eye out for Appalachia’s own catawba rhododendron and the vibrant Turk’s-cap lily.

Photo by Alysa Bajenaru

Arizona

When to go: March & April
Flowers to see: Desert marigold, desert primrose, and New Mexico thistle

Picacho Peak State Park

About halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, Picacho Peak is one of the best areas in the state to witness both wildflowers and blooming cacti. The warm, dry weather makes it ideal for a mid- to late-spring camping trip. For the best views of the landscape, take a challenging hike up to the top of Picacho Peak.

White Tank Mountains

Head about 30 miles northwest of Phoenix to see orange and red poppies in the White Tank Mountains. Trails to check out include Goat Camp and Mule Deer for a short stroll or the eight-mile loop starting at Area 7 toward Willow Canyon Trail.

Saguaro National Park

While the saguaro cacti are the biggest draw, Saguaro is also a fantastic place to see wildflowers and flowering shrubs, particularly in early spring. The weather this time of year is still cool enough to make daytime hiking bearable—you’ll get stellar views from the Douglas Spring Trail.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Blake Rafferty

Tennessee

When to go: April & May
Flowers to see: Trilliums, lady slipper orchids, and crested dwarf iris

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Straddling Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smokies make up a habitat for more than 1,500 varieties of flowering plants, including many wildflowers that bloom from late winter through spring. For the most immersive experience, visit in early May, when the annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage draws in flower-lovers from around the country with a full schedule of guided hikes and educational talks. And don’t miss the many wildflower-strewn trails in the Smokies—see our full guide here.

South Cumberland State Park

Spread out over more than 20,000 acres, the enormous South Cumberland State Park offers an extensive trail system and lots of opportunities for backcountry camping. Get up-close views of wildflowers blooming on the forest floor by hiking the Collins Gulf Trail, which runs alongside the Collins River.

Photo by Anna Donlan in the White Mountain National Forest

New Hampshire

When to go: May & June
Flowers to see: White mountain saxifrage, bluebead lilies, and mountain wood sorrel

The White Mountains

The White Mountain National Forest offers the best wildflower viewing opportunities in New Hampshire, and a great place to see the tiny ivory blooms of the region’s native white mountain saxifrage. If you’re looking for a hike, the Sawyer Pond Trail is an easy option generally flanked with a diversity of flowers during peak bloom season.

Photo by Andrea Di Nino at Ellison Ranch

Montana

When to go: June & July
Flowers to see: Arctic lupine, mountain arnica, and glacier lilies

Glacier National Park

Glacier is known for summer flower viewing, with wildflower enthusiasts making a beeline for Logan Pass, the highest point in the park that can be reached by car. If you have time, it’s worth taking a hike along the Hidden Lake Trail with moderately fewer crowds.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Wendee Wingfield

Colorado

When to go: July
Flowers to see: Mules ear sunflowers, mariposa lilies, and Colorado columbine

Crested Butte

Colorado’s best-known spot to see wildflowers, Crested Butte offers tons of viewing areas, particularly along the Snodgrass Trail and the Brush Creek Trail. The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, held over 10 days in July, offers guided hikes and hundreds of workshops on everything from flower painting to cooking.

Rocky Mountain National Park

This park’s varied terrain—and position on the Continental Divide—means that it gets all sorts of wildflowers, with blooms of seemingly every hue found in its meadows and hills. You can find the best views around many of the Rocky Mountains‘ numerous lakes; for an easy hike, head to Nymph Lake via the Bear Lake Trailhead.

Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

If you want to see not just wildflowers but also gorgeous landscapes, take a road trip along this 65-mile-long scenic byway, which crosses two mountain passes and meanders through the adorable mountain town of Ouray. For the best wildflowers, make a pit stop at the American Basin in the Gunnison National Forest, where you’ll spot beautiful blooms surrounded by massive craggy mountains—just make sure you have four-wheel-drive.

Photo by Ryan Stone

Washington

When to go: July & August
Flowers to see: Sitka mountain ash, heather, lupine, and aster

Mt. Rainier National Park

You’ll find all sorts of flowers in this alpine national park, with varieties cropping up in the forests and subalpine elevations. Get the best chance at seeing them all along the relatively easy Sourdough Ridge Trail, which connects the park’s Sunrise Visitor Center to Frozen Lake, about a mile and a half away.

North Cascades National Park

Remote North Cascades National Park is full of places to see wildflowers, generally without many crowds to get in the way of your perfect shot. You’ll get great views from the challenging Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm Trail, passing through alpine meadows set against a dramatic backdrop of craggy peaks.

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Ezekiel Gonzalez near Point Dume Sanctuary, CA

Our favorite Hipcamps near fields of wildflowers

Of course, we had to chime in with some of our favorite Hipcamps before capping this off. Here’s a quick rundown on our top spots to check out.

If you find yourself outside this weekend, let us know! Tag @hipcamp or #hipcamp so we can share the love. And stay up to date on the latest hot spots to view the blooms by following Hipcamp on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Go forth and frolic (responsibly) in the flowers, gang!


More inspiration for wildflower season

Read on for more ways to take a camping trip among the flowers this spring.

Margot Bigg is a freelance writer and editor specializing in travel and culture. Her stories have appeared in publications around the world, including Travel + Leisure, Sunset, Afar, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic Traveller. She’s the author of three India guidebooks for MoonGuides and has co-authored Fodor’s guides to India and the Pacific Northwest. When not traveling or writing, she enjoys reading, studying languages, discovering new music, and daydreaming about her next destination.

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