Mountains across the West have a hidden secret come July: alpine wildflowers bursting forth in virtual seas of vibrant hues. There are a ton of great spots and hikes for viewing these late bloomers, which delay their magic thanks to higher elevations and cooler temps. Just remember to stay on the trails, avoid touching or picking the flowers, and take only pictures.
Here are 10 of the best places across the West to see these spectacular alpine delights.
Expect a brilliant display of color at Tahoe’s highest elevations, where flora such as purple lupine, alpine lilies, and golden mule’s ear are profuse. The Big Meadows trailhead, which leads to multiple hikes of varying lengths, is an excellent starting spot for enthusiasts on the lookout for meadow penstemon and American bistort. In Palisades Tahoe you’ll find alpine fields brimming with California snow flowers and giant red Indian paintbrush, especially along the moderately difficult Thunder Mountain Trail—perfect for a half-day trek.
Yosemite National Park, California
A vibrant palette of pink, purple, red, yellow, and white washes over Yosemite’s subalpine meadows each July and August, with everything from ranger’s buttons to monkeyflowers bursting forth in natural beauty. Tuolumne Meadows is home to shooting stars, cinquefoils, and little elephant’s heads. From here, you can embark on a moderate eight-mile round-trip hike along the Mono Pass Trail, a historic trail once used by American Indians that winds across streams, past lakes, and through flower-filled meadows.
Mount Rainier, Washington
Come early August, the slopes of Washington’s tallest mountain are brimming with wildflowers, including lupine, paintbrush, and pink mountain heather. These stunners are easily visible around Sunrise Visitors Center, the park’s highest drivable point. Or hike the 2.5-mile Sourdough Ridge Trail to the top of 7,006-foot Dege Peak for spectacular panoramic views of the flora-filled meadows below.