National Wildflower Week takes place May 4 – 10 this year. To celebrate, we’ve compiled wildflower photos from Share the Experience photographers. From fiery reds and oranges to majestic purples, these photos capture a rainbow of beautiful blossoms in National Parks and National Forests around the country. If you’re inspired to explore the nation’s many diverse and colorful blooms within these federal lands, we’ve provided links to nearby camping locations. Happy National Wildflower Week!
Discover the Best Places to See Wildflowers Around the Nation
Los Padres National Forest (Aurele Piazza, Share the Experience)
These spiky and vibrant red blooms were found in the Los Padres National Forest in California, which offers a variety of topography, vegetation, and wildlife. Photographer Aurele Piazza describes the scene, “Indian Paintbrush pave the Panorama Trail of the Andrew Molera State Park up to the height of Clear Ridge, with breathtaking views on the Big Sur coast and Point Sur lying in the distance.”
Plan a visit: Explore the beauty of Los Padres National Forest and find a variety of recreation opportunities, including camping, hiking, horseback riding, biking, and swimming.
Tennessee and North Carolina
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Ralph Cooper, Share the Experience)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to over 1,500 kinds of flowering plants and is known as the “wildflower national park.” Photographer Ralph Cooper captured this brilliant butterfly perched on a cluster of orange “butterfly weed” while visiting. The appropriately named butterfly weed is nectar-rich and therefore a favorite for butterflies and hummingbirds.
See for yourself: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, features diverse wildlife and breathtaking views. Flowers in bloom can be found nearly year-round and hiking and camping opportunities abound.
White River National Forest (Ben Pelta-Heller, Share the Experience)
Sunflowers may be the most well-known yellow flower in the U.S. They are heliotropic, which means they turn to face the sun. Photographer Ben Pelta-Heller discovered this field of sunny blooms along the continental divide in White River National Forest.
Ready to Discover the Rockies? White River National Forest encompasses more than 2 million acres of land and offers a variety of recreation activities, including hiking, camping, skiing, sailing, rafting, picnicking, horseback riding, and fishing.
Saguaro National Park (Fred J. Lord, Share the Experience)
Arizona’s state flower, the saguaro cactus flower, was captured by photographer Fred J. Lord at Saguaro National Park near Tucson. One saguaro cactus may feature hundreds of these flowers. During the heat of the day, only the green buds are visible. The flowers open at night, blossoming into velvety white petals with yellow centers, and last for only one day.
Interested in an Arizona adventure? Saguaro National Park offers the chance to see these giant cacti, but note that most campsites at the park are first come, first serve. Nearby Coronado National Forest offers a variety of recreation activities including hiking, camping, birding, horseback riding, picnicking, and sightseeing.
New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma
Cibola National Forest and Grasslands (Lawrence Rafter, Share the Experience)
Lawrence Rafter photographed these Rocky Mountain Penstemon flowers at Cibola National Forest and Grasslands. Hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies love these intense bluish-purple blooms, which are typically found in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
Yearning to spend time in the wide-open Southwest? Cibola National Forest and Grasslands is located in three states: New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. It encompasses more than 1.6 million acres of natural beauty and elevations ranging from 5,000 to 11,301 feet. There are multiple nearby camping options: two large, fully accessible group campsites at Cibola, which can accommodate up to 100 people, and several individual campsites in the area.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area (Cammie Myers, Share the Experience)
Cammie Myers snapped this busy insect on a striking spiky eryngium bloom at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma. Also known as sea holly, the eryngium is tolerant of hot and dry conditions and is typically found growing in the southern central U.S. and Wisconsin. The uniquely shaped flowers are not only brilliant in hue, but also rich in nectar, making them popular with bees and butterflies.
Unique flora, fauna, waters, and geological formations can be found at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, which is comprised of two districts – the Platt Historic District and the Arbuckle Lake District. Both districts are brimming with natural beauty including plants, wildlife, and waters, and recreation activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and swimming.