Blooms and Buds: Where to Find the Best National Park Flowers
There’s nothing quite like spring in our national parks. Wildflowers fill the fields and line the trails through some of the most breathtaking places across our nation. Some of these brilliant blooms can be found in a park near you! Peruse through these photos of some of the best places to see national park flowers this spring.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Spanning 70,000 acres, densely wooded Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is home to a wide assortment of flowering trees that come into full bloom in spring and early summer. Flowers like dogwood, pink azalea, mountain laurel, and rhododendron are easily seen along the Appalachian Trail, which swings through Delaware Water Gap on its way from Georgia to Maine.
Saguaro National Park
Pinpointing the time when desert wildflowers blossom across Saguaro National Park is a nearly impossible task. Some flowers bloom nearly every month, while others only do so when rainfall, temperature, and other conditions perfectly align — which may not happen for years at a time. That being said, spring visitors to this Arizona park can count on a wide variety of flowers during a normal season, from yellow desert marigolds to the white blooms of the giant saguaro cactus.
Mojave National Preserve
Some years see an abundance of spring wildflowers in California's Mojave National Preserve, while other years bring only a scant few. It is difficult to predict, but you have a good chance of seeing cacti, annuals, Joshua trees, and yuccas in bloom if you time your visit just right. These national park flowers typically start to appear at lower elevations in March, and make their way to higher elevations by May.
Mammoth Cave National Park
While it is the underground portion of Mammoth Cave National Park that draws many visitors, there is plenty going on above the surface in springtime. The valleys, hillsides, and river bottoms above these famous Kentucky caves come alive in spring with trillium, larkspur, columbine, and more than a dozen other varieties.
Flight 93 National Memorial
The bravery of ordinary passengers and crew members who joined together for an extraordinary act of selflessness is remembered at Pennsylvania’s Flight 93 National Memorial. A wildflower meadow sweeping up the slopes above the Memorial Plaza at the crash site brings color and life to a place of healing and renewal. The National Park Foundation played an essential role in raising funds to establish, design, and construct this memorial.
White Sands National Monument
By the middle of April, you can usually find sand verbena, Hartweg’s sundrops, desert mentzelia, and white sands mustard blooming on the desert floor of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico — much earlier than in the surrounding mountains. Gypsum centaury, white evening primrose, and greenthread join the party by May, and some species produce flowers well into summer. However, as with all wildflower blooms in desert environments, predicting exact times can be tricky.
Cuyahoga National Park
The wooded lowlands along Ohio's Cuyahoga River harbor a brilliant assortment of spring wildflowers, many of which are in full bloom during the month of April. In Cuyahoga National Park, a stroll along the Towpath Trail often rewards hikers with glimpses of purple cress, marsh marigold, yellow and white trout lilies, spring beauty, and bloodroot. Toward the end of the month, you may also spot rue anemone, squirrel corn, and cut-leaf toothwort in the woods along the Brandywine Gorge Trail.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Peak wildflower season lasts from late February through June at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. A diverse habitat at this California park supports an incredible diversity of spring wildflowers, from the delicate yellow-petal sun cup to the prickly cobweb thistle and the bright-red Indian paintbrush.
The arrival of spring is good news for wildflower enthusiasts, and some of the most stunning blooms can be seen in our national parks. No matter what part of the country you call home, you'll find national park flowers ready to spring up this season.