A Complete Guide to Colorado’s Stunning Wildflower Season

Flower lovers should look to Crested Butte for their seasonal fix, especially with a wildflower-filled landscape like this.

Flower lovers, we have a destination for you: Crested Butte, Colorado. Each year, this quaint town explodes into an array of colors thanks to the many fields of wildflowers that can be found everywhere. The display of vibrant hues is something many people travel far and wide to see, especially avid hikers who can’t get enough of the gifts Colorado spring brings with it.

While the Elk Mountains are beautiful year-round, there’s a special kind of magic that happens when the valleys bloom in anticipation of warmer temperatures and milder weather. Crested Butte has earned such a reputation for its incredible flora that it has been dubbed the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado.”

The wildflowers of Crested Butte and beyond

Crested Butte is a scenic destination that makes it to the list of things to do in Colorado thanks to its central mountain location. The scenery is undoubtedly spectacular and breathtaking, and its native wildflower species only serve to enhance the visiting experience during the spring and summer months. Thanks to the region’s fertile soil, these mountainous areas are practically a magnet for colorful plant life like wildflowers. Since there is no rhyme or reason to how flowers grow, each season brings with it a new and diverse landscape to explore.

These meadows are estimated to be home to hundreds of flowers, and seeing them in person is like coming out of a fairy tale.

When to see Colorado wildflowers

The best way to determine when Crested Butte wildflowers will bloom is to follow the average snowfall for the area. This has a significant bearing on when the flowers will bloom sooner or later; for example, 2022 is expected to be an early flowering year due to below average snowfall in the valleys. As a general rule, flower fields at higher elevations tend to harbor more diverse wildflower species and generally harbor more buds.

For those who want to see the wildflowers at their peak, it’s best to time your trip for mid-summer, preferably July. This is also when visitors can catch the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, which is the perfect way to appreciate the scenic beauty of these little flowers.

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Crested Butte Wildflower Festival

The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival takes place in 2022 from July 8-17 and offers a number of wildflower-themed events for guests. Of these, visitors can expect things such as:

  • Hikes and nature walks
  • Wildflower themed art workshops
  • photography lessons
  • Culinary and medicinal programs
  • Garden visits
  • Educational lectures on bird and butterfly watching

Additionally, festival-goers can explore the Blosson Boutique, which offers a wide range of wildflower-themed gifts, souvenirs and merchandise. Those interested in learning more about the wildflower meadows can also pick up a free printed guide at the festival. Local artists also display works of art which, of course, feature landscapes saturated with flowers and all things nature.

Hiking and photography at Crested Butte

Wildflower season brings out the best in those who love creative outlets, like photography. The grasslands of Crested Butte are a paradise for those looking to improve or practice their landscape skills with a stunning natural subject on the other end of the camera lens. Those who paint will also find inspiration in these meadows, with a wide variety of flower species from which to draw ideas.

Hiking is another great way to appreciate Crested Butte’s wildflower season, and there are plenty of trails to choose from. Some of the more popular trails include:

  • Lily Lake
  • Snodgrass
  • Record path
  • Budd Trail
  • Lupine Trail
  • Crested Butte Hill Station
  • Lower loop
  • Lake Irwin
  • Brush Creek Trail
  • Walk in the woods
  • Whetstone – top loop
  • Cave Trail
  • Green Lake
  • Walrod Ravine
  • Oh be merry
  • Meridian Lake Trail
  • 401
  • Escarpment crest
  • Daisy pass

Travel mound to crest offers a handy guide to the Crested Butte trails along with their difficult grades and directions for each.

wildflower label

When visiting Crested Butte for wildflower fields, there is etiquette to follow. Some of the unspoken rules when visiting meadows are:

  • As tempting as it may be, visitors should avoid picking, cutting or trampling wildflowers, as it is illegal on public lands.
  • Hikers must stay on marked trails at all times so as not to disturb the flora of the meadows that surround them.
  • All animals must be kept on a leash at all times on the trails so as not to disturb the fragile flora.
  • Protecting native wildflower species is of utmost importance, and visitors are encouraged to politely share the rules with others if they see anyone who might not be aware.

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