Top Ten Parks for High-Summer Wildflowers

The West: High and Wild (Glacier National Park, Montana)

When summer finally comes to the high, wild mountains of Glacier National Park, it behaves a little like the replicants in Blade Runner—it tries, and succeeds, in squeezing a riot of life into a short time. Even before winter's snowpack has been completely vanquished, glacier lilies start poking their stalks skyward through the last translucent, glass-thin bits of ice and snow. And July and August are peak months for wildflowers.

Logan Pass is the most accessible gateway to Glacier's spectacular alpine meadows. Wildflower blooms commence almost the minute the snow begins to melt. Grand displays of lupine, glacier lilies, sticky geranium, monkeyflower, and hundreds of other species typically peak in late June to mid-July, depending on temperatures.

Standing five feet tall, the fragrant, cream-colored blooms of beargrass are among Glacier's most spectacular sights. In years of heavy blooms, these flowers literally cover the rocky slopes near Logan Pass in mid-July. The cyclical appearance of the flower is not well understood; once a plant blooms, it will not do so again for several years.

More Northern Rockies Hot Spots

Glacier's not the only high country here, of course—there are more alpine meadows to be explored in nearby Flathead, Lolo, and Lewis and Clark NFs. To the south are Yellowstone and Grand Teton's biological riches, while to the west are the wild fastnesses of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and Sawtooth NRA in Idaho.

More GORP Glacier National Park


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