The Rocky Mountains are a breathtaking part of the United States that are known for their lofty peaks and an incredible array of flowers and fauna.
Each summer, the Rockies come alive with a burst of color that comes from a variety of wildflowers caking the landscape and wowing visitors.
This leads some hikers to wonder what some of the best flowers are to spot when they’re out on their adventures.
If this sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’re going to provide you with a list of the 15 best flowers you can find in the Rocky Mountains when you’re hiking or generally enjoying nature.
We’ve made sure to give you some detailed information about each flower and some tips on how you can spot them.
1. Colorado Blue
The Colorado Blue is a type of flower that can be found throughout the Rocky Mountains. Notable for its blue petals and yellow centers, this flower is a thing that many lucky hikers get to see when out on their adventures in the wilderness.
The Latin name for this one is Aquilegia coerulea, meaning “Sky Blue ” and they can be found across the Mountains, but also in South Eastern Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, and other parts of the Continent.
2. Heartleaf Arnica
The Heartleaf Arnica is also called Heart-leaf Leopard Bane, and is a flower that you can quickly recognize because of its yellow, star-shaped petals that sprout upwards on long, slender stems.
Their center is reminiscent of a sunflower, and you can find them in places where water is abundant, flowering most commonly in May, June, July and August.
You’ll find these in wooded areas, usually in great beds, though you can find more solitary examples across the Rocky Mountains.
Fireweed is a tall, striking plant that can grow up to nine feet tall, blooming with distinct purple flowers.
It gets its name as it is said to be one of the first plants that can thrive after a forest fire. Take note of the tall stems here, with flowers jutting out in horizontal rows across its length.
4. Elephant Head
Elephant head is a small, unique flower that grows in wet meadows and along the side of streams.
It gets its name from the shape of the flower, which resembles an elephant’s head with two long ears that protrude from the very top of the flower.
It is a favorite among hummingbirds and beads, and an important pollinator for the ecosystems of the Rocky Mountains.
These are really gorgeous flowers, so make sure to take some pictures if you’re lucky enough to come across them.
5. Alpine Forget-Me-Not
The Alpine Forget-me-Not is a sky-blue flower that is very small. They are rare, often growing at the highest elevations in the Rocky Mountains.
They get their name from their unique ability to remember the exact location they grow, often returning to the same spot year after year.
The plant also has some important medicinal properties, used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory difficulties.
The suitably named Beargrass is a tall, slender plant that can grow up to six feet in height. It will bloom in the spring with tall, white flowers that cluster in groups around the central stem of the plant.
Beargrass has been used by indigenous communities for basket weaving, and can be found in luscious areas of the Rocky Mountains. You’ll be able to notice it immediately due to its striking color.
7. Shooting Star
Among the gorgeous array of flowers in the Rocky Mountains, is one that really lives up to its name.
The Shooting Star is a plant that needs a lot of water to thrive, and can be found in dense meadows or wherever there is fresh water.
You can recognize it by its long, crimson stems and strange flower shapes that resemble a shooting star, with purple petals and pointed yellow, white and blue tips.
This humorously named flower is bright yellow and often found in wide, open fields. Sneezeweed is what was used to create sneezing powder, but it should be noted that this plant is not a weed at all, but a member of the sunflower family.
The name doesn’t quite describe how beautiful this flower is, with its distinctive red flowers and yellow/black central bulb.
9. Scarlet Gilia
This is a brilliant red flower that grows most commonly in rocky or dry areas. It is sometimes called Skyrocket because of its tall stems, and you’ll often find the flowers facing downward as its stems tend to droop.
First off, you’ll need to exercise caution with this one as it is a poisonous plant that can be a danger to animals and humans if ingested.
That said, provided you observe it from a distance, you’ll find a beautiful flower that blooms either blue, purple or white. It’s a tall, spiky plant that you can find in many parts of the Rocky Mountains.
You’ll notice that the flowers often cluster on all sides of the stem, and can alternate in color when you look closely at the petals.
11. Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrushes can be found across many parts of the US, but also feature in the Rocky Mountains.
They’re known for their vibrant, showy bracts that come in a variety of colors ranging from orange, to yellow, to red. The flowers are small and usually located at the very base of these bracts.
Interestingly, this plant is what is known as a partial parasite, meaning it will take nutrients from other plants, so you’ll commonly find it close to other species of flowers, and it rarely if ever grows in isolation.
12. Colorado Bluebells
Did you know that there are bluebells native to Colorado? You’ll find these in the early summer months, with blue-violet flowers that grow in both forests, fields, and meadows.
This plant is also called Mertensia, taking its name from the famous botanist Franz Carl Mertens.
If you’re lucky enough to find a bed of bluebells, you will find yourself amazed by the bright colors that light up the stretch of forest or field in question.
13. Queen Anne’s Lace
This is a delicate, white flower that will grow in fields and along the side of roads. One interesting fact about this plant is that it is a member of the carrot family, and its leaves and roots have been used in salads throughout human history.
It attracts many pollinators including bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. You should know that this flower is not just native to the Rocky Mountains, and can be found in many parts of the continental United States of America.
14. Western Pasqueflower
The Western Pasqueflower can be most commonly found in the spring. It features delicate, feathery leaves and wide flowers that come in an array of different colors.
It is often called the ‘Easter Flower’ as it blooms around Easter time. You’ll usually find them in dry areas, and it’s rare to find a single flower, as there are usually multiple on an individual plant.
15. Rocky Mountain Iris
One of the most iconic flowers you can find in the Rocky Mountains is the Rocky Mountains Iris. This is a stunning flower that can be recognized by its large, purple-blue petals that are flecked with bits of yellow and white.
It grows most commonly in wet meadows or anywhere there is water and has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments from headaches to fevers.
We’d call this a must-see if you’re hiking around the Rocky Mountains, so make sure you keep an eye out for it!
To conclude our list, you should know that the Rocky Mountains are home to a diverse and beautiful array of wildflowers.
From delicate and striking flowers like the Elephant Head, to vibrant flowers like the Indian Paintbrush, there is bound to be at least one that will take your breath away.
We hope that our article has given you some ideas to look out for the next time you’re adventuring in the Rocky Mountains, and you now have more of an idea of the types of flower native to this area.
If you still have some questions, check out our FAQ section below.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best time for you to see wildflowers in the Rocky Mountains varies depending on the type of flower you want to see. That said, most flowers bloom between spring and early fall.
We would suggest avoiding picking flowers in the Rocky Mountains, as this will damage the ecosystem and stop other visitors from enjoying the natural beauty of the area.
- How Long Do Potted Calla Lilies Last? Flowers That Bloom In August - May 26, 2023
- 5 Easy Steps To Train Your Bougainvillea - May 26, 2023
- 5 Beautiful Types Of Lotus Flowers You May Not Have Seen - May 25, 2023