Summit County, Colorado does not put on much of a show for spring. The snow lingers, the ground gets mushy and wet, skiers lament the melting snow and mountain bikers long for dry ground. All that work put in enduring late snow showers and frosty nights pays off starting in June. The mountain wildflowers fed by those late, heavy snows start to spring up and show their colors. Here is what you will find if you head into the mountains now.
One of the first wildflowers to make an appearance in Breckenridge are the blue flag iris. These small iris show up along streams and in mountain meadows where low spots keep the ground moist. They are stunning when they arrive, but don’t bloom long. Early summer is the best time to enjoy these wildflowers. Read more about this Colorado wildflower.
This lily has a single white and sometimes pink bloom with three large petals and three smaller pointed petals. The stamens add bright color to the flower. This flower tends to be found in open drier areas. You can find it in open mountain meadows or areas recovering from wildfire. Look close to the ground or you will miss them. Read more about this Colorado wildflower.
There are a few types of cinquefoil found in the mountains. Shrubby cinquefoil is a larger bush common in moist areas, often clumping around streams or marshes. Red stem cinquefoil grows lower to the ground as a smaller plant. Both produce a small, five petaled, yellow flower. The flowers are not very showy, but add plenty of vibrant color to the landscape. Read more about this Colorado wildflower.
There are several different kinds of paintbrush found in Breckenridge and Summit County this time of year. They vary in color including orange, white, yellow and pink. Paintbrush flowers are showy and resemble the bristles of a paintbrush dipped in bright paint. These flowers are easy to spot because of their bright color. You can find them in open areas, and wooded areas with more open understory. Read more about this type of wildflower.
Lupine have showy clusters of blue-purple flowers that tower above the plant on long stalks. These large flower stalk are easy to spot in mountain meadows. Read more about this Colorado wildflower.
All summer long mountain meadows are full of bright showy flowers, but they often tend to dwindle as the summer gets warmer and drier. Late June and early July are some of the best times to see the wildflowers at their peak. As you set out to enjoy wildflowers in Summit County, be sure to check trail conditions. Trails can still be muddy and wet, or even have significant snow pack well after the ground has dried out at lower elevations. Also, be aware of afternoon thunderstorms and start your hike early in the morning. Carry plenty of water, snacks, and wear sunscreen. The wildflowers will be even more stunning when you are well prepared and comfortable on your hike.
Colorado offers some of the most incredible, vibrant wildflowers. Now is the perfect time to get out and enjoy them!