Categories: CampingDestinations

Where to See Bluebonnet Fields in Texas This Spring

As the days grow warmer under the Texas springtime sun, the green spaces along the roads and highways of the Lone Star State slowly turn blue, signaling the arrival of the state’s official flower: the bluebonnet.

In 1901, the bluebonnet (and its six different species) beat out the cotton plant and the cactus to be named Texas’ state flower. The blue or purple-blue flowers stand out among other wildflowers in fields and pastures, especially along Texas’ highways, thanks in part to the TxDOT Wildflower Program which beautifies the state’s roadways with 5,000 species of wildflowers and native grasses.

This bluebonnet season, you’re going to want to pack up the car or the RV and hit the road in search of the best Texas bluebonnet patches. With six species found around the state, you can look out for small bluebonnets with purple petals, four-foot-tall bluebonnets, or those that thickly cover fields in Central Texas. Read on to discover the best time to see bluebonnets, where to find them and camp nearby, and both the official and unofficial rules surrounding these blue beauties.

A guide to seeing Texas bluebonnets in 2024

  1. When to see bluebonnets
  2. Tips for bluebonnet viewing
  3. Best destinations for camping near bluebonnet fields in Texas
Photo by Samantha Amidon

When to see Texas bluebonnets

When planning a bluebonnet road trip, it’s, of course, best to schedule your adventure for when the bluebonnets are expected to bloom. It’s commonly stated that early and mid-April is the high season for bluebonnets; however, a variety of factors affect the timing each year. A previous year’s drought, for instance, could result in better blossoms the next year.

As the 2024 Wildflower Forecast from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center stated, “While rainfall influences the quantity of blooms, sunlight and warmth influence the timing. So, if it’s been a warmer winter, early spring-blooming plants like bluebonnets will bloom even earlier.”

Typically, you’ll see more and more wildflowers in the fields and grasses of Texas in spring after a few showers and warmer days. So for the most part, it’s best to book a trip to explore north, central, or east Texas for bluebonnets in late March or sometime in April. However, if you want to see the multi-foot-tall bluebonnets along the border of Texas and Mexico, you’re better off visiting in February or March, though there is a chance they’ll still be around in April.

Photo by Lauren Smith at Happy Acres in Travis County

Tips for bluebonnet viewing

Viewing bluebonnets may seem as easy as getting in the car and pulling over when you see patches of blue—but in reality, there are a few things to know before you head out.

1. Leave it better.

Many Texans believe that it is illegal to pick the Texas state flower. Although this isn’t true (there is no law against picking bluebonnets specifically), we think this long held belief is for the best. Plus, in Texas state parks and national parks, there are laws against picking flowers (including the bluebonnet). It is extremely important to stay on trail, leave bluebonnets as they are, and protect the natural habitats you’re visiting. Always adhere to Leave No Trace and Leave It Better principles—or in other words, leave the environment as you found it. 

Other things to steer clear of? It’s illegal to trespass on private properties, no matter how incredible their fields of bluebonnets look. You can also be ticketed for impeding traffic or parking in prohibited areas, which is why it’s a bad idea (and unsafe) to park on the side of a highway to view bluebonnets. Legally, you shouldn’t park in grassy areas along roads either.

2. Stay safe.

In addition to keeping such laws in mind, be aware that bluebonnets often provide shade for dangerous creatures like snakes and fire ants. They can also grow in extreme environments that may pose potential natural dangers—think rocky or sandy areas, or the Chihuahuan Desert.

Be mindful of where you step when admiring bluebonnets, and not just to prevent a snake or ant bite. Trampling bluebonnets can prevent them from reseeding and regenerating the next year.

3. Know where to find the latest information

To keep track of the blooming status of bluebonnets, there are plenty of resources to consider. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center not only provides a wildflower forecast each year, but also shares bloom updates on their Instagram and Facebook. Follow their hashtag #TXwildflowers2024 to see where others have found wildflowers across the state during the peak season.

Other great resources include the Texas Wildflower Report on Facebook and the social media pages of national and state parks like Big Bend National Park and Inks Lake State Park. Cities like Ennis, Burnet, BrenhamFredericksburg, and Marble Falls also share when blooms are peaking on their websites and social media accounts.

Photo taken at the Bluebonnet House in Marble Falls by Thomas Schimonsky

Best destinations for camping near bluebonnet fields

Ennis

In 1997, Ennis was named the official Bluebonnet City of Texas. Throughout April, you can drive 35 minutes south of Dallas for a scenic drive through the 40 miles of Ennis Bluebonnet Trails, from the Kachin Prairie to the Meadow View Nature Area. You can visit during the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival on the weekend of April 19 for live music, vendors, activities, and food. For camping near Ennis wildflowers, check out High Hope Ranch, Llama Land Ranch, and Groves of Amber Inn.

Photo by Bryan Dickerson

Texas Hill Country

Near Austin and San AntonioTexas Hill Country is bluebonnet central. From the cities, take a short drive to Burnet, the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas, which hosts an annual Bluebonnet Festival in April and has great bloom patches at Haley Nelson Park and the Burnet Municipal Airport. Bluebonnets flourish all across Burnet County, in places like the Canyon of the Eagles, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Inks Lake State Park, and Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area. (Check out Blue Hills Ranch for a prime camping spot nearby.)

In Marble Falls, don’t miss the Bluebonnet House or the Turkey Bend Recreation Area (or the aptly named Blue Bonnet Cafe—less for the flowers, more for the famous pie). Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park is another hotspot for full blooms, especially along the Pedernales River.

And don’t overlook Fredericksburg and its Willow City Loop off of Highway 16 either. In addition to being the state’s wine destination, the city is surrounded by bluebonnets come spring. Wildseed Farms is a great place to look. And last but not least, Llano is a popular spot among night sky photographers who visit to capture unique bluebonnet photos under the Milky Way.

Photo by Matthew Lancaster

Chappell Hill

Thousands descend on Chappell Hill in April for the Chappell Hill Bluebonnet Festival, which is of course timed for sightings of the blue-petaled flowers in the surrounding area. Look for a field of bluebonnets near the parking lot of the First Baptist Church, then make your way to nearby Brenham in Washington County for more.

Navasota

About a 75-minute drive northwest of Houston is the small town of Navasota. You won’t find it on a lot of Texas bluebonnet lists, but that’s because it’s still a hidden gem. Local winemaker Billy Cox has opened his Retreat Hill property to the public. He’s added signs and walkways to make it easy for others to find photo opps among his field of bluebonnets.

Big Bend National Park

For a unique bluebonnet adventure, head to Big Bend National Park to find the chisos (or the “Big Bend”) bluebonnet. This dark blue species can grow from three to four feet tall and can usually be found along the park’s paved roadways. In superbloom years, the chisos bluebonnet turns the park’s hillsides blue. Hit the Panther Junction Visitor Center for relevant plant and animal exhibits.


More springtime feelings for you

Spring is in the air—get inspired for your next camping trip as the snow melts and the blooms are budding.

Alex Temblador is an award-winning freelance writer whose work has appeared in the likes of National Geographic, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Outside Magazine, Texas Highways, among many others. She is also an award-winning author of three books: Half Outlaw, Secrets of the Casa Rosada, and Writing an Identity Not Your Own.

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