Top 10 Most Beautiful Wildflowers on Our Trip

Theresa and Shadow hiking through a wildflower field in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Theresa and I try to visit a national park each year.  But we usually travel in autumn when the weather is still nice, crowds are thin, and prices are low.  As a result, we’ve rarely seen the spectacular wildflower displays for which our national parks are famous. 

But on our RV trip in 2012, we “followed Spring” from the desert southwest to the Rockies and Great Plains, then up into Canada and Alaska, and down to the Pacific Northwest.  We were treated to one wildflower show after another from February through September, and we saw over 120 species of wildflowers. 

Choosing the most beautiful wildflower is like choosing the sexiest supermodel… it’s rather subjective, and there is no wrong answer.  Following are the top 10 most beautiful wildflowers we saw on our trip:


1. Alpine Lupine

Alpine Lupine

Kluane National Park, Yukon

Many hillsides in Canada and Alaska are covered with lupines.  These tall, stately, violet flowers project an air of royalty.



2. Dwarf Fireweed

Dwarf Fireweed

Denali National Park, Alaska

The rumors are true—fireweed is everywhere in Alaska during the summer.



3. Crimson Columbine

Crimson Columbine

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

If Earth were ever invaded by an alien plant species, I suspect they would look like Crimson Columbine.



4. California Poppy

California Poppy

Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona

This tiny sun of a flower was shining brightly in the middle of a desert wash.  It stood all alone in the dry riverbed… until the next rain and subsequent flash flood.



5. Foxglove


Mt. St. Helens National Monument, Washington

The cycle of life in action:  The volcano blasted away the forest to make room for open fields and beautiful wildflowers.



6. Bluebells


Denali National Park, Alaska

For whom these blue bells toll, they toll for thee.



7. Mountain Larkspur

Mountain Larkspur

Chugach State Park, Alaska

Purple Harry Potter Sorting Hats on a stick!  This is my personal favorite.



8. Alaska Spring Beauty

Alaska Spring Beauty

Denali National Park, Alaska

These beauties are even more beautiful in real life.  Their fluorescent pink color really catches the eye.



9. Arctic Iris

Arctic Iris

Denali State Park, Alaska

People pay good money to send these showy flowers to loved ones.  But in Alaska, irises grow for free in the wild.



10. Chocolate Lily

Chocolate Lily

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

These were the first brown flowers I’d ever seen, not including those dyed roses they sell in the grocery store.  Some of the Chocolate Lilies we saw were black as night.  This lily species in Alaska is named chocolate because of its color, but the distantly-related Chocolate Lilies in California actually smell like chocolate.


If you enjoyed this article, then you may enjoy our new eBook: 
“Wildflowers of Western USA, Canada and Alaska” by Timm and Theresa Martin

Click here to download our eBook

This eBook captures the beauty of nature in over 100 full-color photographs of wildflowers from a 2012 hiking trip across the western United States, Canada and Alaska.  Flowers are presented in the order we encountered them, with their common name, date and location.  Parks include Chugach, Denali, Joshua Tree, Kenai Fjords, Kluane, Mt. St. Helens, Olympic, Theodore Roosevelt, Waterton Lakes, and Yoho.  Published June 2013.  134 pages.  iPad iBooks format for the Apple iPad and iPhone.

Download eBook: Wildflowers of Western USA, Canada and Alaska

Please pass this on to anyone you know who enjoys beautiful wildflowers.

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