Finding Idaho Wildflowers
Trees are budding, snow is melting and the rivers are flowing. Spring has finally arrived, bringing with it longer, sun-soaked days and warm weather and drawing visitors and residents into the great outdoor splendor that is Idaho.
Hunting for springtime’s bountiful blooms is a popular pastime here. Spend a weekend exploring the backcountry in search of Idaho’s vivacious and unrivaled wildflowers. Flowers bloom early in the lower elevations and later in higher elevations as warmer weather rolls in. Idaho wildflowers generally peak in late July and early August in the highest elevations (10,000 feet-plus.) Most of the locations listed below are easily accessible and are great for day hikes or bikes rides.
In late May, the camas fields turn vivid blue and purple in southern Idaho’s Camas Prairie near Fairfield and can be easily viewed from Hwy. 20-26. The prairie is an ancient lake bed, surrounded on all sides by mountainous terrain, which has undergone a geologic transformation and now exists as a high prairie community. Camas Creek is fed seasonally by spring runoff and inundates the surrounding land, creating a unique marsh habitat. This area is also an excellent place to view waterfowl and other bird species.
By June the snow is long gone in the Wood River Valley, revealing perfect summer trails for recreational enthusiasts. Adams Gulch and Greenhorn Gulch, two popular biking trails near Ketchum, are great destinations for wildflower seekers. Grab your bike and pack a picnic, as there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy lunch among the blossoming flowers. You’ll see lupine, Indian paintbrush, shooting stars, arrow leaf balsamroot and many other species of plants and flowers.
In Northern Idaho, about 100 miles northwest of Coeur d’Alene, are the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. About 14 miles past the small town of Nordman on Highway 57, you’ll find a unique area of old-growth cedar named for President Theodore Roosevelt. Some of the trees date back 3,000 years.
The North Fork of Granite Creek, a high-mountain creek that winds through stands of towering ancient western red cedar trees, offers paramount trails for hiking. Two trails are maintained from the trailhead. An easy trail of 365 feet runs along the creek bringing hikers to a viewpoint of the Lower Granite Creek Falls cascading over a sheer rock wall, and a one-mile loop trail of moderate difficulty leads up the old road for 200 feet above the trailhead. This longer trail offers commanding views of Upper Granite Creek Falls and Lower Granite Creek Falls.
Here, among old-growth cedars, wildflowers are abundant, carpeting the forest floor in shades of pink, yellow, blue and white. Common species include lily of the valley, spring beauty, trilliums, violets, foam flower, and wild ginger. The cool, moist climate in this secluded snap shot of history make this a wonderful excursion on a sunny summer day. Relish in the intoxicating colors of Idaho’s wildflowers, while enjoying recreation at its best.
Idaho—Adventures in Living
Idaho is home to thousands of miles of biking trails, mountains to climb, lakes to fish, 17 ski resorts and more whitewater than any other state in the lower 48. So take a break from it all and come out to play. Idaho—adventures in living. Visit www.visitidaho.org for more information and vacation ideas.