by Candace and Alec Stutson
One of the prettiest aspects of hiking in the Rockies is the abundance and variety of wildflowers that can be found around the trails. We’ve compiled a list of wildflowers to look out for on your next mountain adventure, ranked from most common to the crown-jewel of wildflower spotting!
10: American Pasque Flower
The Pasque Flower is one of the earliest harbingers of spring. These flowers can bloom as early as March! They’re common across North America, and the Pasque Flower is the state flower of South Dakota.
9: Chiming Bells
This flower normally grows near water and streams, and gets its name from it’s hanging flowers that resemble bells! The flower buds are a bright pink, which change color to lavender or blue as the flower blooms.
This bright yellow flower is a member of the sunflower family. The flower was used by Native Americans to soothe aches, pains, and to treat minor wounds. It is still used as an herbal remedy today, and is often dried and combined with other herbs and flowers.
7: Lewis’ Blue Flax
Named after Captain Meriwether Lewis of the famous Lewis & Clark Expedition to explore America, this beautiful sky-blue flower blooms in June and July on the ridges and dry slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
Yarrow is both easily recognizable, and medicinally useful! It grows many small white flowers in clusters, and its bitter stems and leaves can be used as a replacement for hops when brewing beer. However, it isn’t just useful for the creation of alcohol! It’s roots and stems were also used by Native Americans and early settlers to stop bleeding, and can be taken as a supplement to aid a fever and soothe the common cold.
5: Indian Paintbrush
This high-altitude plant is also known as prairie-fire due to its flaming red color. However, it can also be a hot-pink or magenta! It’s distinctive flower shape resembles a paintbrush, and it often grows in large fields that can be seen from afar.
While the word may conjure images of a shy or unassuming person, the Wallflower is a real wildflower as well. Wallflower’s are large and very flashy due to their bright yellow color and large flowers. They have a habit of growing alongside walls or fences, which makes them suited to the cliffs and rocky areas of Colorado’s mountains.
3: Indian Blanket
This blazing flower is also known as Firewheel. It gets its name from a legend of a Native American man who was wrapped in a bright red-and-yellow blanket as a gift to The Great Spirit when he died. The Spirit was so impressed by its beauty that he would give the gift back, and made the flowers bloom and spread forever.
Geranium comes from the Greek work “geranos” or crane, referring to the flower’s seed pod which resembles the bill of a crane. This gives the flower its more common name of Crane’s Bill.
How could number one be anything else? The state flower of Colorado is the crown-jewel of any wildflower hike. It was voted as Colorado schoolchildren’s favorite flower by a landslide in 1891, and was officially made the state flower in 1899. It provides food for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds due to its unique shape and deep pockets of nectar. The blue color of the petals symbolizes Colorado’s blue skies, the white petals symbolize our abundance of snow, and the yellow interior reminds us of Colorado’s history of gold mining.