10 Best U.S. National Parks to Visit During Wildflower Season
National parks wow no matter the month, but there's something particularly special about wildflower season. Pops of purple, blue, white, and gold bring magic to some of America's most surreal landscapes. Even better, the kaleidoscopic blooms hint to warm weather on the way.
If you're planning a trip around those spring and summer colors, bookmark these 10 best national parks to visit during wildflower season. Note that you can keep these wildflowers protected and thriving for future park visitors by following Leave No Trace guidelines, including staying on the trail.
Glacier National Park
Fields of glacier lilies. A profusion of purple asters. These are among the nearly 1,000 species of wildflowers that grace Glacier National Park between spring and summer. Come spring, lower elevations such as Lake McDonald impress with spectacular blooms. Summer warmth brings floral hues to higher-elevation spots; the state's beloved glacier lilies grow between 3,000 to more than 7,000 feet. Try hiking trails like the Highline, Hidden Lake, and Lake McDonald to admire the colorful views.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There's a reason the Smokies are on every bloom enthusiast's wish list: With more than 1,500 flowering plants, Great Smoky Mountains National Park boasts the most flower species across all U.S. national parks. Plus, the flowers bloom here for the majority of the year. The color profusion kicks off with ephemerals like lady slipper orchids, which appear from February through April. By summer, black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, and a sea of other wildflowers steal the show. A soothing expanse of yellow witch hazel ends the year, from October through January. Don't miss the park's floral festivities at the annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in late April. Wildflower trails abound in the park as well.
Shenandoah National Park
By spring, Shenandoah's cheery flora bounces back in full force. More than 850 plant species bring a mosaic of colors between March and August, with blooms that transition from violets and large-flowered trillium to columbine, touch-me-nots, and sunflowers. Soak up the splendor via one of Shenandoah's wildflower vantage points. This includes low-elevation spots like Mill Prong and Hughes River during the early spring, and the ever-scenic Skyline Drive in late spring through summer.
Mount Rainier National Park
With a splash of violet in the foreground and a snow-capped peak not far behind, Mount Rainier National Park's blooms promise to leave you awestruck. Admire these magenta, gold, and blue shades throughout the park's subalpine meadows in late July and August. Some of the best spots to enjoy the show include the photogenic Reflection Lakes trail, and the sweeping Grand Park meadow, where wildflowers stretch to nearly the base of Mount Rainier.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Ohio's fertile soil makes it a prime place for growing. In fact, northeast Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley National Park alone has 10 operating farms, from berry farms to a working vineyard. With that in mind, it only makes sense that Cuyahoga Valley's wildflowers dazzle just as well. The park sees spring to late summer blooms, with everything from Virginia bluebells to violets to goldenrods bringing these glacier-carved landscapes to life. Catch the Brandywine Gorge Trail or the Kendall Lake Loop to admire the blooming beauties.
Saguaro National Park
Poppies and desert chicory are among the many species that add vibrancy to Saguaro National Park's desert landscape. The park's primary wildflower season runs from spring through early fall; the displays are most vibrant after steady rains late in the year, as was the case with its "banner year" for blooms in 2019. Even if the conditions aren't perfect, Saguaro flowers impress throughout the year, adding contrast to the park's signature attraction: colossal cacti. See wildflowers on trails like Bridal Wreath Falls and Valley View Overlook.
Redwood National Park
California's colossal redwood trees are impressive enough, but add a carpet of colorful wildflowers beneath them and it's serious scenery overload. Redwood National Park's wildflower blooms emerge between January and September. That means, for the majority of the year, you can appreciate the eye-popping colors. Spring welcomes blooms like periwinkle forget-me-nots and golden mission bells, while California poppies and western dog violets last into late summer and fall. Some of the best wildflower hikes include the Trillium Falls, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, and Redwood Creek trails.
Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles National Park's towering bulbous rocks are nothing if not dramatic, and a splash of wildflowers takes that wow factor up a notch. In this California national park, you can admire wildflowers from March through May, when 80% are in bloom. Flower species here run the gamut. Early blooms include bush lupine and black sage, and hotter months bring orchids, buckwheat, and roses. Catch the views from routes like Moses Spring Trail and Old Pinnacles Trail Loop.
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park's limited growing season means blooms have a short window, roughly July to October. But those months alone make Crater Lake one of the best national parks for wildflower views. The flora stretches from low-elevation forests up to the towering Mount Scott stratovolcano, the park's tallest point. See the vibrant hues via Lady of the Woods Trail, Annie Creek Canyon Trail, and Discovery Point Trail.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley isn't on our list because of its blooming frequency; it's here because catching a wildflower show in the park is a rare but truly incredible experience. The extreme, dry park needs nearly perfect conditions — including fall rains — for a super bloom of desert golds to paint the valley. Rangers keep visitors apprised of the latest wildflower conditions. And, while the chances of spotting a super bloom here may be rare, trust us: It's worth the wait.