WAKE UP AND SMELL THE WILDFLOWERS WITH A HIKE IN COLORADO THIS SUMMER
DENVER (May 29, 2014) – Coming off a winter season of heavy snowfall, vibrant wildflowers are replacing that blanket of white making this summer the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors and lush flora of Colorado. The Colorado wildflower season has begun with peak flowers blooming in June and July. As the trails dry, a hike is one of the best ways to get up-close and personal with the state’s huge array of colorful blooms. Following is a sampling of Colorado’s wildflower hikes and experiences. For more information, visit www.colorado.com/articles/5-colorado-wildflower-hikes.
Alpine Loop Scenic Byway (Lake City, Silverton & Ouray). To view Colorado’s magnificent wildflowers in the state’s true wilderness, look no further than the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. Accessible only by a four-wheel-drive vehicle, this rugged country is the ideal growing grounds for an abundance of wildflowers. The route follows 65 miles of unimproved road with many hiking spots along allowing drivers the chance to get out and take a closer look. The Byway has a narrow window (June-September) in which it's snow-free, but it’s well worth the wait. Wildflowers such as tufted hairgrass, alpine timothy, bog sedge and bluebells can be found amongst the landscape of treeless tundra and mountains.
Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area (Fort Collins). This naturalist haven is a rare example of pre-settlement in an authentic display of what the first European settlers of the land saw – a perfect, unadulterated Colorado prairie. Not only will visitors encounter the untouched splendor of wildflowers, they may also spot a bald eagle or hawk on their hunt for prey, horned lizards or ground-nesting songbirds. An easily walked 2.4-mile trip through the prairie, the paved Fossil Creek Trail is ideal for meandering along while taking in flowers such as Nuttall’s violet, upright prairie coneflowers, beardtongues and milkweeds.
Cub Lake/The Pool Loop, Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park). When it comes to witnessing wildflowers in full bloom, the odds are in your favor for a memorable trip when you choose Rocky Mountain National Park celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2015. Often overlooked, the 6.2-mile Cub Lake/The Pool Loop has a tremendous variety of flora for visitors to enjoy. In fact, upward of 80 wildflower varieties can be found when hiking the terrain. Rocky Mountain hikers will also experience the beauty of Cub Lake. Ringed by the thick pine forest and a marshy shoreline, the lake is covered in lily pads and is an inviting spot for ducks to take a dip.
Devil’s Causeway (Steamboat Springs). Devil’s Causeway, one of Colorado’s most notorious and harrowing hikes, is also one of the most beautiful with wildflowers bursting with color throughout the summer months. Lupines, Indian paintbrush, mule’s ears and columbines surround picturesque high alpine lakes and line the trail that takes hikers up the iconic Chinese Wall. In the remote Flat Tops Wilderness area, accessible from the town of Yampa, the Devil’s Causeway hike begins at the Stillwater Reservoir Trailhead and ends with the daring cross of a rocky land bridge – a 3-foot wide, 300-foot long stretch of trail that drops off 1,000 ft. on either side.
Goose Creek and Molly Gulch (Deckers). A popular trail providing access into the southeast portion of the Lost Creek Wilderness Area, Goose Creek Trail is 9.6 miles of camping, fishing, rock formations and of course vivacious wildflowers. Yet, this is an outdoor oasis that is still healing from the 2012 Hayman Fire, which left a lasting imprint. Today the lush green hiking trails that were luckily untouched stand in contrast to the land that was burnt. Visitors will be in awe to find that nature has a unique way of providing beauty in the face of natural devastation, as a multitude of wildflowers like yarrow, bellflower and fireweed now grace much of the charred area. A two-day camping trip is perfect for taking in the scenery of the area and the trails near Goose Creek offer primitive tent-camping sites that the whole family will enjoy.
Gunnison National Forest (Crested Butte). Designated the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado,” Crested Butte offers visitors an exquisite trek with more than 1.2 million acres of wildflower hiking through the Gunnison National Forest. A southwestern Colorado town highly regarded for the rainbow of hues that take over mountainsides and meadows each summer, Crested Butte is the perfect destination for wildflowers throughout much of the summer. The most notable event in the area is the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival (July 7-13) with more than 200 events showcasing lush landscapes activities that include wildflower tours, garden excursions and workshops. The Wildflower Festival is also offering an extensive schedule of 4 x 4 tours of Paradise Divide, Saturday Wildflower Walks, Friday Adventure Hikes, and Wildflower Tours of Crested Butte Mountain Resort from June 20 – August 15.
Hessie Trailhead at Nederland (Nederland). Easily accessed from the Denver metro area, the Hessie Trailhead near Eldora Mountain Resort is an ideal three-mile route for visitors to see a bounty of wildflowers. Abandoned cabins are reminders of the area’s mining history, while glimpses of Eldora’s ski runs, a waterfall, beaver colony and diverse range of the colorful wildflowers create a visual masterpiece for hikers.
Lory State Park (Fort Collins). One of the northern Front Range’s most beloved areas, Lory State Park has a bevy of outdoor activities and spectacular displays of wildflowers. The 26 miles of hiking and biking trails meander through rocky hills and green valleys, scenic gulches and ponderosa pine forests, allowing visitors to capture the magic of the outdoors. During the summer months, the park is a mecca for wildflowers with lively hues of colors from the canary-yellow blossom atop a prickly pear cactus and fiery orange blanket flower to the pale-pink gayfeather and Caribbean-sea-blue larkspur. Throughout the warmer months the Lory State Park rangers offer full- and almost-full-moon hikes for a different take on the outdoor paradise.
Rabbit Valley Recreation (Grand Junction). Near the Colorado River, you’ll find the 24-mile, high-mountain desert terrain of Rabbit Valley Recreation Area. Found growing among wind-sculpted sandstone, the splendid wildflowers add a welcome burst of color to this already beautiful landscape. From horseback rides through the area with a view of the sweeping panoramas while atop your mount, to hiking in the area's many miles of trails, there is a multitude of ways to embrace the area’s wildflowers. After a long day of taking in the scenery of wildflowers, relax at one of the area’s three designated campsites.
Shrine Mountain Trail (Vail). One of the most spectacular places to dive into Colorado wildflowers is Shrine Pass. In summer, the Shrine Mountain Trail dips into meadow after meadow carpeted with yellow daisies, coral-colored Indian paintbrush, spikes of purple lupine and fuchsia fireweed, all spread out to create a picturesque vision of nature. From the trail's ridge, hikers are rewarded with a 360-degree view of Mount of the Holy Cross in the Sawatch Range, part of the Gore Range, Uneva Peak, Copper Mountain and the Flat Top Mountains guaranteeing vast beauty to those who choose to hike this trail.
Willow Creek Trail, Roxborough State Park (Denver). Red rocks and wildflowers dominate the landscape of this state park that encapsulates the natural transition of the plains' rise into the dramatic heights of the Rocky Mountains. The varied environment allows for certain types of wildflowers, usually found miles apart, to be seen growing close to each other. As a day-use park, it’s ideal for getting away from city distractions and reconnecting with the beauty of Colorado wildflowers like American vetch, orchid penstemon, cinquefoil and birdfoot violet.
Vega State Park (Collbran). At an elevation of 8,000 feet, Vega State Park is a peaceful gem nestled on the edge of Grand Mesa National Forest, where lush montane meadows and aspen forests blanket the hillsides. Vega flourishes with vivid wildflowers in the spring giving hikers bursts of purple, blue, orange, yellow and red wildflowers as they trek along the popular trails. Visitors may even encounter wildlife as they join communities of marmots, deer, elk, foxes and migratory birds that roam the park.
Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine, and 25 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state's breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 11 national parks and monuments and 58 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet.
For more information or a copy of the 2014 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide, visit www.COLORADO.com or call 1-800-COLORADO. Follow Colorado on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Foursquare, Flickr, Tumblr and YouTube.
Media are invited to visit the Colorado Media Room for story ideas, news releases, image gallery, and other resources.
# # #