Home »Travel» 5 Spring Road Trips to Repair Your Wildflowers
Spring has sprung and the wildflowers are here! Spectacular color displays are scattered across hills and wilderness areas across the country. It’s time to get in the car and see the flowers while they last.
Although sightseers can spot wildflowers all year round, They are most common in spring, as sunlight pours in after months of rain or snow. Road trips are a great way to get outside, see the sights, and cover a lot of ground.
While there are many ways to look at the flowers, not all road trips are created equal. Here we’ve rounded up five of the best U.S. wildflower viewing road trips, plus the most popular places to stop, the types of flowers to expect, and the best times to visit.
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Best Spring Road Trips for Wildflower Watching
George Washington Memorial Parkway: Virginia & Maryland
Stretching approximately 27 miles across Virginia and Maryland, the Georgia Washington Memorial Parkway is a journey through history with scenic vistas.
The journey follows the Potomac River and passes George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, the US Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and many other historic locations.
During the spring, over 500 species of wildflowers have been documented along the highway, the most spectacular of which are on view Turkey Run Park. In the park, the Potomac Heritage Trail offers a variety of popular hikes featuring an assortment of flowers such as the Virginia bluebells, purple spring cress, and blue phlox.
Visit between mid to late March and mid to late April for the best opportunities to view the wildflowers.
Newly discovered Gap Road: North Carolina and Tennessee
The 34-mile road begins at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and ends at the Mountain Farm Museum. It runs through the famous Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The journey takes between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on how many detours you make. Popular stops include Campbell Overlook, Chimney Tops Picnic Area, Newfound Gap, Clingmans Dome Road, Smokemont Campground, Mingus Mill, and Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
If you visit in the spring, get views of mountain laurel, catawba rhododendron, flame azalea, and an assortment of other wildflowers along the way.
Flowers can be seen anytime between February and September. To maximize your chances, be sure to visit them between early spring and early summer.
Joshua Tree National Park: California
Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California is known for its rugged desert landscape, rugged rock formations, and the Joshua trees for which it is named.
To get the most out of a day at the park, start at the Cottonwood Visitor Center and travel the 50 mile (50 mile) road through the park to the town of Joshua Tree. Popular stops along the way include Cottonwood Spring, Ocotillo Patch, Chollo Cactus Garden, Arch Rock, Skull Rock, and Barker Dam. The timing and extent of the wildflower blooms depend on the amount of precipitation in autumn and winter and the spring temperatures.
Flowers usually begin to bloom in February at lower elevations and in March and April at higher elevations. Popular sightings include the desert brush, Utah cracker, evening primrose, Mojave aster, grizzly bear prickly pear, and many others.
Texas Hill Country: Texas
The Texas Hill Country is home to a variety of landscapes including rolling hills, rocky canyons, grasslands, forests, and savannahs that are dotted with small towns, secluded swimming holes, and of course, wildflowers.
While there are plenty of road trip options in Hill Country, a popular choice is to start in Austin and work your way 45 miles across the countryside to Gruene Hall in New Braunfels. Must-sees along the way are the Hamilton Pool Preserve, LBJ State Park and Historic Site, Enchanted Rock State National Area, The Nameless Cave, and Guadalupe River State Park.
Although wildflowers can be seen along the entire ride in the spring, the Willow City Loop is a huge hit in the spring months as there are plenty of wildflowers. On the hike, you are likely to come across bluebonnets, coreopsis, sunflowers, fire wheels, and more.
The prime time for blooms is usually in March, April and May.
Columbia River Highway: Oregon
The Columbia River Highway was completed in 1921 and was one of the first US highways designed for scenic touring. The 350-mile highway begins in Astoria and ends in Pendleton. It leads through temperate rainforest and through maples, conifers, ferns and a collection of wildflowers.
There’s a lot to see along the route, but highlights include a collection of breathtaking waterfalls: LaTourell Falls, Shepperds Dell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Wahkeena Falls, Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Falls, and Horsetail Falls.
You can spot flowers along the entire route, but an especially good place to see them is on the Hood River, specifically along the Mosier Plateau Trail.
Hundreds of wildflower species have made the Columbia River Gorge their home, including the Columbia kittentail, long-bearded hawkweed, balsam root, lupine, Howell’s daisy, northern wormwood, smooth desert parsley, and many more.