7 Spots for Spring Flowers

The natural landscape is bright with colors of flowers in spring. Tom Petty said it best when he sang "you belong among the wildflowers." And maybe you should camp among the spring wildflowers too. 

Spring is a great season to get out the camping gear and head to the wilderness, hopefully in time for the spring wildflower bloom. Depending on the climate of your destination you may be able to see wildflowers at different times of the year. Our favorite national parks for spring flowers have a variety of flowers and colors. 

  • 01 of 07
    Field of wildflowers, Great Smoky Mountains
    Jeff Hunter / Getty Images

    Overview: The Great Smoky Mountains is America’s most visited national park and is one of the top 5 National Parks for camping. The park spans more than 800 square acres and is located in North Carolina and Tennessee. 

    It is world renowned for its biological diversity and animal life. Over 17,000 species have been documented in the park and scientists believe an additional 30,000-80,000 species may live there. More than 1,500 flowering plants can be found in the Great Smoky Mountains.

    Spring wildflowers you can see in the Great Smoky Mountains: Spring Beauty, Bloodroot, Sharp-Lobed Hepatica, Smooth Solomon's Seal, False Solomon's Seal, Foamflower, Galax, Bishop's Cap, White Trillium, Catesby's Trillium, Painted Trillium, Vasey's Trillium, Yellow Trillium, Halberd-Leaved Violets, Trout-Lily, Robin's Plantain, Wild Strawberry, Fire Pink, Columbine, Crested Dwarf Iris, Wild Geranium, White Fringed Phacelia, Purple Phacelia, Showy Orchis, Dutchman's Britches, Squirrel corn, Bleeding Heart, Blue Phlox, Thyme-Leaved Bluets, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Wild Ginger, Squawroot, Flame Azalea.

    Learn more about ​the Great Smoky Mountains spring wildflowers.

    Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park: The park offers abundant options for camping including backpacking, horse camps, and group campgrounds. More for more information visit the park website.

  • 02 of 07
    Wildflowers in Death Valley.
    Kristin Piljay / Getty Images

    Overview: Death Valley National Park is the hottest place on earth. The below sea level California desert is also known for its abundance and diversity of wildflowers, though a spectacular wildflower season is not common. It takes perfect conditions for the bloom to offer a stunning display.

    A good wildflower year in Death Valley depends on well-spaced rainfall throughout the winter and spring, sufficient warmth from the sun, and lack of drying winds. 

    Spring Wildflowers you can see in Death Valley: Desert Gold, Notch-leaf Phacelia, Caltha-leaf Phacelia, Golden Evening Primrose, Gravel Ghost, Bigelow Monkeyflower, Desert Five-spot, Desert Dandelion, Brittlebush, Princesplume, Desert Paintbrush, Fremont Phacelia, Mojave Aster, Bigelow's Coreopsis, Indigo Bush, Desert Globemallow, Desert Mariposa, Purple Sage, Rose Sage, Panamint Penstemon, Magnificent Lupine, Inyo Lupine.

    For more information on time of year and elevations of blooms, visit the park website and before you go read the wildflower update. 

    Visit Death Valley National Park: There are nine campgrounds that are open year round in Death Valley. Summer is the hottest season for visiting, but temperatures begin to moderate, dropping below the 100-degree mark, in mid-October and the peak visitor season runs through the cool winter and spring months into the middle of April when temperatures again climb above 100. Visit the park website for more information. 

  • 03 of 07
    Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
    Copyright Matt Kazmierski / Getty Images

    Overview: Named for the dunes perched 450 feet above Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes is “as old as continental ice sheets and as young as the 1970 Establishment Act that set aside the Lakeshore for preservation of the natural resources and for public use.”

    The lakeshore spans 65 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline as well as numerous inland lakes and streams. The flora and fauna of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are as varied as is the habitat and weather of the park. The maritime climate of nearby Lake Michigan and warm sun combine to create a diverse vegetation.

    Wildflowers you can see in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: Spring Beauty, Hepatica, Bloodroot, Trout Lily, Trailing Arbutus, Yellow Cowslip, Marsh Marigold, Trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Harebell, Dune Lily, Puccoon, False Heather, Beach Pea, Wind Anemone.

    Visit the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes website for an extensive database of wildflowers.

    Visit: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in Northwestern Lower Michigan along the shores of Lake Michigan. The visitor center is in Empire, MI about 25 miles from Traverse City. For more information on visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, please visit the park website

  • 04 of 07
    Alpine wildflowers in Rocky Mountain NP
    Gareth Mccormack/Getty Images

    Overview: Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses 415 square miles of protected mountain wilderness in Colorado. The park's wilderness areas offer outstanding opportunities for solitude and recreation and the high alpine environment is a fantastic spot for viewing wildflowers and wildlife.

    Open year round for visitors, Rock Mountain National Park was designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1976 and was also voted one of the top spots for fall foliage by readers.

    Wildflowers you can see in Rocky Mountain National Park: Spotted Coralroot, Fairyslipper, Fremont Geranium, Mountain Ball Cactus, Shooting Star, Western Scarlet Gilia, Common Fireweed, Elephantella, Rosy Paintbrush, King's Crown, Queen's Crown, Parry Primrose, Dwarf Clover, Moss Campion, Mountain Iris, Horsemint, Colorado Columbine, Mountain Lupine, Purple-fringe, Aspen Daisy, Pasqueflower, Monkshood, Mountain Harebell, Tall Chiming-bells, Alpine Forget-me-not, Sky Pilot, Sulphurflower, Blanket Flower, Golden Banner, Western Wallflower, Plains Pricklypear, Heartleaf Arnica, Yellow Pond-lily, Yellow Stonecrop, Snow-lily, Snow Buttercup, Western Yellow Paintbrush, Alpine Avens, Alpine Sunflower, Mariposa-lily, Miners-candle, Rocky Mountain Pussytoes, Bristly Pricklypoppy, Cow Parsnip, Field Mouse-ear Chickweed, Yarrow, American Bistort, Dotted Saxifrage, Marsh-marigold, Alpine Thistle, Arctic Gentian.

    For more information about Rock Mountain wildflowers, including flower identification charts by color, please visit the park website.

    Visit Rocky Mountain National Park: Summer is the busiest time of year at Rocky Mountain National Park and reservations for camping are highly recommended. There are seven campgrounds within the park, some are closed seasonally. 

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07
    Summer afternoon at Craters of the Moon
    Anna Gorin / Getty Images

    Overview: Formed during eight major volcanic eruptive periods between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago, Crater of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho is a seemingly barren landscape. The volcanic nature of the park created diverse geological and biological features that are fascinating to visit.

    The rugged landscape is home to gray wolves, pika, and bald eagles among many other species of wildlife. And there is no shortage of flora and fauna either. More than 750 different types of plants have been identified in the monument including a variety of wildflowers.

    Wildflowers you can see in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve: Mountain Dandelion, Dwarf Onion, Taper-tip Onion, Serviceberry, Rockcress, Mustard Purple, Mountain Big Sagebrush, Arrow-leaved Balsamroot, Sego Lily, Indian Paintbrush, Dusty Maiden, Fern Bush, Rubber Rabbitbrush, Blue-eyed Mary Green Rabbitbrush, Hawksbeard, Cryptantha, Desert Parsley, Anderson's Larkspur, Wyeth's Buckwheat, Slenderbush Buckwheat, Cushion Buckwheat, Dwarf Buckwheat, Sulfur-flower Buckwheat, Broom Buckwheat, Leopard Lily, Ground Smoke, Scarlet Gilia, Dwarf Goldenweed, Hairy Golden-Aster, Lava Phlox, Bitterroot, Wayside Gromwell, Silvery Lupine, Spiny Skeletonweed, Hoary Aster, White Stem Stickleaf, Blazingstar, Dwarf Monkeyflower, Sukdorf's Monkeyflower, Coyote Tobacco, Evening Primrose, Prickly Pear cactus, Blue Penstemon, Scabland Penstemon, Scorpionweed, Syringa, Carpet Phlox, Long-leaved Phlox, Gland Cinquefoil, Choke Cherry, Antelope Bitterbrush, Golden Currant, Squaw Currant, Lanceleaved Stonecrop, Groundsel, Wire Lettuce, Snowberry.

    For more information about flowers that bloom in Craters of the Moon, please visit the park website

    Visit Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve: The Lava Flow Campground is open May through November and are only available on a first come first serve basis. Visit the website for more information. 

  • 06 of 07
    Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park
    PHOTO 24 / Getty Images

    Overview: More than 200,000 acres of protected lands are located less than two hours from our nation’s capitol. Shenandoah National Park is known for its spectacular vistas, waterfalls, hiking trails, and wildlife viewing.

    The park includes 300 acres of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the southern Appalachians. More than 10,000 animals and 1,400 species of plants call the Shenandoah National Park home.

    Wildflowers you can see in Shenandoah National Park: Hepatica, Serviceberries, Bloodroot, Redbud, Dutchman’s Breeches, Cutleaf Toothwort, Trout Lilies, Black Cherry, Flowering Dogwood, Wake Robin, Large-Flowered Trillium, Miterwort, Marsh Marigold, Bellworts, Purple Clematis, Showy Orchis, Violets, Wild Geranium, Bluets, Buttercups, Spiderwort, Moss Phlox, Wood Betony, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Anemones, Wild Strawberry, Golden Ragwort, Yellow Lady's Slipper, Pink Lady’s Slipper, Wild Azaleas, Blue-Eyed Grasses, Black Locust, Bowman’s Root, Mountain laurel, Golden Alexanders, Solomon’s Seal, Coral Honeysuckle, Gray Penstemon, Cow parsnip, Goat’s beard, wild Columbine, Fleasbanes, Fly Poison, Common Milkweed, Viper’s Bugloss, Wild Onion, Purple-Flowering Raspberry, Oxeye Daisy, Yarrow, Black Cohosh, Butterfly Weed, Turk’s Cap Lily, Oswego Tea, Wild Bergamot, Sundrops, Starry Campion, Common Evening Primrose, Black-eyed Susan, Sunflowers, Queen Anne’s lace, Jewelweeds, Joe-Pye Weeds, Allegheny Stonecrop Tall Bellflower, Indian Pipe, Downy Rattlesnake Plantain, Thistles, Canada Burnet, False Foxgloves, Stiff Gentian, White Snakeroot, Southern Bellflower, Goldenrods, Indian Tobacco, Asters, Silverrod, Yellow Sneezeweed, Ladies’ Tresses, Virgin’s Bower, Witch Hazel.

    Visit Shenandoah National Park’s website for more information on wildflower blooms

    Visit Shenandoah National Park: The park is 105 miles long stretching from Front Royal, Virginia to the Waynesboro-Charlottesville area. Skyline Drive is the scenic roadway that takes you through the park. And with four park entrances, this is an ideal place for a camping road trip. Visit Recreation.gov for campground reservations.

  • 07 of 07
    Grinnell Glacier
    Dean Fikar / Getty Images

     Overview: Glacier National Park in Montana was voted one of the Top 5 National Parks for camping by our readers. With more than 700 miles of hiking trails, 70 species of mammals, 270 species of birds, and 1,132 species of plants, the park is an outdoor wonderland.

    “There are few sights more beautiful than an avalanche slope or an alpine meadow aglow with the color of wildflowers amidst the backdrop of Glacier Park's towering peaks.”

    Wildflowers you can see in Glacier National Park: Blanket Flower, Alpine Buttercup. Pasque Flower, Potentilla, Sulphur Buckwheat, Corn Lily, Death Camas, Cushion Buckwheat, Mariposa, Monkeyflower, Elephant Heads, Indian Paintbrush, Wintergreen, Subalpine Spirea, Fireweed, Forget Me Not, Aster, Gentian, Penstemon, Beargrass, Glacier Lily, Clematis, Inesaps, Indian Pipes, Purple Asters, Butterwort, Northern Eyebright, Three-flowered Rush, False Asphodel, Bicknell's Geranium, Rock Harlequin, Columbine, Moss Campion, Twinberry

    Learn more about Glacier National Park’s wildflowers

    Visit Glacier National Park: The park offers 13 campgrounds with more than 1,000 campsites. Learn more about camping in the park and in the nearby area. 

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