Top Ten Parks for High-Summer Wildflowers

The West: The Last Frontier (Denali National Park, Alaska)

Late June or early July brings out all the highlights of the Alaskan Interior's wildflower blooms. There are goldenrod, deep blue wild larkspur, and yellow, daisy-like arnicas; hot-pink fireweed along the roadsides; and Alaska's state flower, the tiny blue forget-me-not. Much of Denali is dry tundra, and a wide range of color lights the hillocks every summer: bright pink moss campion, which grows in a pincushion-like mound; Lapland rosebay; and alpine azalea (this flower's pink plume has club-shape pink spikes). Denali comes alive with colors of the many varieties of wildflowers and berries; willow catkins, monkshood, glacier avens, fireweed, Alaska cotton, dwarf fireweed, bearflowers, corydalis—along with blueberry, crowberry, bearberry, and mosses—display a mosaic of colors and beauty to the scenic wonders of the park.

Plants of the dry tundra live scattered among barren rocks at higher elevations. Tiny highland plants grow closely matted to the ground, creating their own livable microclimate and stunning summer displays of delicate blossoms. Although small in stature they loom large in importance because their nutrients provide food that sustains even the largest species of park wildlife.

More Alaska Hot Spots

Picking out a few places from Alaska's vast array of wildlands—all of which are a riot of blooms in the summer—is somewhat random, but you can't go wrong on the slopes and tundra of the Interior's parklands, including Lake Clark NP, Katmai NP, the massive ramparts of Wrangell—St. Elias NP, and Gates of the Arctic NP, up north on the Brooks Range.


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