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Backpacker Magazine – May 2008

Trip Finder: Wildflowers

Trek the best spring blooms from the Ozarks to the Olympics with these two, three, and four day treks.

by: Jodi Helmer

Rocky Mountains | Southeast | Pacific Northwest

Rocky Mountains

Indian Peaks Wilderness, CO
As the snow melts in late May and early June, blue columbine and pale pink twinflowers line the trail to Buchanan Pass, 45 miles west of Boulder. Cruise 20.2 miles (round-trip) through lodgepole pines towering over snowmelt-fed streams, and cross vast colorful meadows. Linger on the 11,837-foot pass to view a sea of showy blooms, then drop into Fox Park and begin scouting out a campsite. Permits are required from June 1 to September 15.

Shoshone National Forest, WY
May flower-peeping in Wyoming doesn't get any better than on the 16.1-mile North Fork Trail, which tracks through lower elevations along the North Fork of the Shoshone River, 36 miles west of Cody. Look for glacier lilies and lupine growing in the open meadows and arnica and wild strawberries beneath the forest canopy. Fallen trees make for slow-going in spots.

Pecos Wilderness, NM
Rattlesnake orchids and elephant heads? They're pearly white and cotton candy pink, respectively, and you'll find them both in the Pecos Wilderness. Go in late May (depending on snowfall) and tackle the 60.5-mile Skyline Trail near Santa Fe. It wraps around the Pecos River Basin, scrambling along narrow ridgelines that rise above 12,000 feet. Blue columbine and wild iris also dot the valleys.

Rocky Mountains | Southeast | Pacific Northwest

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