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The Wildflowers of Snowmass

We have created a brief wildflower guide to help you when you’re out on the trails. Whether you’re hiking or biking, you are sure to run into these beauties all around Snowmass…

Where to find them
While it is difficult to predict exactly when, where and for how long these wildflowers will bloom, we can help by recommending the most likely areas various wildflowers can be found. These areas include Ditch Trail, East Snowmass Creek Trail, Maroon-Snowmass Trail, Nature Trail, Rim Trail, Tom Blake Trail, Anaerobic Nightmare Trail, Government Trail East, and Government Trail West. 


Bright yellow petals with three teeth at the tip surround a broad, domed center which turns from yellow to tan with age

Alpine Sunflower (Hymenoxys grandiflora)

If you are lucky enough to catch the bloom, these flowers can bloom in abundance in high alpine meadows. They are among the easiest yellow flowers to identify because they are among the tallest and showiest of the alpine tundra plants. Although these Sunflowers do not produce the seeds we all love to snack on, this flower will follow the sun from sunrise to sunset as it crosses the sky every day. Bloom time: May – July


Bright yellow, sunflower-like heads on leafless stems, arrow shaped basal leaves

Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

This wildflower is native to high elevations in the Rocky Mountains of the United States, in the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.  A unique characteristic of this flower: Native American tribes used to cook the roots for 24 hours or more to produce a sweet, brownish treat. Bloom time: May – June.


Upper leaves divided into 3 very narrow lobes, lower leaves linear, all with 1 main vein

Narrowleaf Paintbrush (Castilleja linariifolia)

This wildflower is found in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, and is most often found in gravelly soils. Interestingly enough, the flower’s roots grow until they touch another plant’s roots, then begins to take nutrients from that plant, slowly killing it to make more room for itself! Bloom time: March – September.


Yellow center with cream and lavender petals

Blue Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea)

The Rocky Mountain Columbine is Colorado’s state flower. This rare flower can be found while hiking in Snowmass, but remember, it is illegal to pluck this flower so please spectate with respect. The flower can come in many varieties of color but the official state flower contains a yellow center with cream and lavender petals. Bloom time: May – July


Magenta “elephant heads,” upper petal and beak resemble head and trunk, lower petals the ears and lower jaw

Elephant flowers (Pedicularis groenlandica)

Elephant flowers are found in the Rocky Mountains and the surrounding states. They thrive in cold and wet conditions, such as snowmelt conditions at the end of the winter season, which makes it one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom. Bloom time:  June – August.


Open, forked flower clusters, fuchsia to lavender; many thinner ray flowers

Leafy Aster (Aster foliaceus)

This wildflower is blue early on in its bloom before turning purple later in its bloom. The plant typically grows on buffs, ledges, and steep slopes. It is native to the Rocky Mountains and other nearby mountain ranges of Western Canada and the Western United States. Bloom time: July – August.





Thank you to Janis Lindsey Huggins, author of Wild At Heart, for the information. 

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