You are here

Reader Participation Day: Which Flowers Mean "Spring Is Here" In The National Parks?


(Top) Beargrass in Glacier National Park and (bottom) rhododendron along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photos by Jim Burnett.

The spring and early summer blooming season is well underway in much of the country, and for many people that brings to mind some specific varieties of wildflowers or blooming trees or shrubs that they associate with a particular National Park Service area.

For Glacier National Park, some might suggest the conspicuous Beargrass or the appropriately named Glacier lily, while along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Flame Azalea, Mountain Laurel and Catawba rhododendron are big attractions.

Although some of this year's flower display has already come and gone in the lower elevations of desert parks, those sites can offer some dramatic blooms, such as the tall and dramatic century plant in places like Big Bend National Park. For an area such as Joshua Tree National Park, there's an obvious choice for the "namesake" blooms!

Do you have any favorite "national park flowers"? If so, which blossoms, and which NPS areas offer a chance to enjoy them?


Avalanche and glacier lilies at Mt. Rainier NP; pink lady's slipper on Isle Royale NP; and whatever was blooming in early August on San Miguel, CINP last year (don't have their names, but they were pretty great).

Spring wildflowers, huh? In my favorite national parks, wildflower season is summer.

At Mt. Rainier, the earliest flowers are glacier lilies, then paintbrush, lupine, and especially alpine phlox (you won't find much of the latter at Paradise, but it's everywhere at Sunrise). And, later, gentians. And at least a dozen other kinds of flowers. In front of the visitor center at Sunrise there's a little meadow with labels on practically all the plants. This is a very cool thing.

At Yellowstone, harebells and gentians and shooting stars. And penstemons. Electric blue larkspur was all over the place last time I was at Mammoth, not to mention more alpine phlox and balsamroot.

And I could go on and on and on and on...

Wildflower identification is one of my favorite things to do on the planet.

Bloodroot in the Southern Appalachians signal the beginning of spring flowers. They came and left weeks ago. We've seen a procession of flowers. Now we're enjoying fringed phacelias.


In the West Glacier area, mostly the first flower up is tiny yellow violets, or white trillium. Then it feels like a breath of spring air :)


Columbines in the Rockies, Indian Paintbrush in the southwest, Crocus in Voyageurs

flowers get bloom in Spring, and sometimes their are already flowers that adopt other seasons as well. it's like an all-weathered flower already but i doubt if it can also last like severe minimal sunlight exposure.

pinterest how to get followers

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide