It’s coming. Winter is almost over and my favorite time of year is just around the corner – wildflower season! Shake off those winter blues and check out this list of the 5 best places in Texas to view wildflowers.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Location: Austin, TX
Best Time For Blooms: mid-March to late May
Lady Bird Johnson wildflower center is your one-stop shop for all your Texas wildflower needs. Starting March 15th and running through May 31st the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is open seven days a week and hosts a stunning 650 varieties of Texas wildflowers. Walking trails run along meadows full of bright bluebonnets and fiery Indian paintbrushes make the perfect backdrop for a timeless spring photo. Grab a bite at the center’s Wildflower Café to cap off your day in the sun.
Want to know what’s in bloom today? Check out the LBJ Wildflower Center Weekly Bloom Update.
The River Road
Location: FM 170 between Presidio, TX & Lajitas, TX
Best Time For Blooms: mid-March
Just up the road from Big Bend is one of the best-kept secrets in Texas. Stunning canyons and jagged cliffs can be found along the 50-mile stretch of FM 170, starting outside of Presidio, TX going east to Lajitas, TX. Dubbed the River Road, this scenic drive runs along the Rio Grande and follows the southern border of West Texas. The drive is beautiful year round, but if you can time it right (mid-March is peak bloom time) you can experience the gorgeous scenery with a splash of color from the local wildflowers. FM 170 passes through the Big Bend Ranch State Park (relatively new state addition to the National Park) and offers plenty of opportunities to pull over and go exploring (Closed Canyon near Big Bend Ranch is definitely worth the detour!)
Big Bend National Park
Location: Big Bend National Park, TX
Best Time For Blooms: mid-Feb through late-March
Are you jonesing for your wildflower fix? Bluebonnets are already blooming in Big Bend National park! The Chisos Mountains variety bluebonnet begins blooming in mid-February. It does not grow in the same thick blanket as its northern cousin, but this species does grow remarkably tall (some flowers reach nearly 4ft in height). If the wildflowers don’t draw you in, the breath-taking views throughout the park make it well worth the drive. Plan a weekend and spend some time exploring everything Big Bend has to offer, especially the natural hot springs.
Location: Brenham, TX
Peak Bloom: mid-March through mid-April
There’s more than Blue Bell ice cream in this small Texas town. Brenham is home of the annual Bluebonnet Festival. This year the festival runs April 11-12 but the bluebonnets can be found blooming as early as late-February. Locals expect this to be a banner year for bluebonnets as rainfall and cooler temperatures the past couple of months have been optimal for wildflower growth. Besides bluebonnets, keep an eye out for other striking blooms in the Washington county area including firewheels, blue eyes, coreopsis, and many more!
Check out this Wildflower Watch from local residents to stay up-to-date on the best spots to check out this season.
Willow City Loop
Location: Just outside Fredericksburg, TX
Peak Bloom: March – May
This is one of my favorite places to see wildflowers in Texas. Located just outside of Fredericksburg (about 2 hours west of Austin), driving the Willow City Loop is a great way to spend a spring afternoon. Year round this 13-mile stretch features some of the most stunning geography in the Hill Country, but starting in early May the drive comes alive with color as wildflowers begin to blanket the area. Look for a wide range of varieties including sunflowers, daisies, Mexican poppies, coreopsis, Indian paintbrushes, and of course bluebonnets. Keep in mind that the land along the road is all privately owned so try to be respectful of the residents while viewing.
Peak wildflower season in the Hill Country starts in mid-March and continues on into early to mid-May with gorgeous blooms throughout the region. Want a bonus challenge? Take a day to explore the backroads and find your own wildflower haven off the beaten path. If you need help getting started, try the areas east and southeast of San Antonio. In years past these regions have reported large blooms of bluebonnets and paintbrushes– the Wildflower map from WildflowerHaven can help guide your travels.
Now that you know where to go for the best Texas wildflowers, check out these resources to help you identify the different species and learn more about these beautiful flowers.
- Texas Wildflower Reports Crowd Map – https://wildflowerhaven.crowdmap.com/
- Comprehensive List of Texas Wildflowers (with photos) – http://www.texaswildflowerpictures.com/wf_index.htm
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Quiz – http://www.wildflower.org/collections/quiz.php
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Photo Gallery – http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/
- Brenham, TX Wildflower Watch – http://www.visitbrenhamtexas.com/wildflower-watch/
This season tag your wildflower photos on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #RovingTx so we know who you are!