It’s Spring Wildflower Season!

The Washington Outdoors Report

Photo 1 - Arrowleaf balsamroot, phlox and lupine, Photo 2 - A hillside full of blooming wildflowers near Cashmere – J. Kruse
This is the time of year when the landscapes of Central and Eastern Washington are so beautiful you would think they are Claude Monet paintings come to life. May and early June offer opportunities to enjoy splashes of yellow, white, pink and purple across the hills. But what flowers are they? Well, the yellow flowers that look somewhat like low growing sunflowers growing in clusters are arrowleaf balsamroot. Those small white or pink flowers with five petals each? Likely phlox. And those purple conical flowers? Those would be lupine. Do you see splashes of pink in the bushes? Those may well be wild roses, also called the Nootka rose. All of these flowers are in full bloom now but don’t wait to enjoy them, because these blooms will fade in June and in some places, as early as late May. 
 
If you want to enjoy the colors from a distance there are several ways to enjoy wildflowers at this time of year. The Wenatchee Valley between Leavenworth and Wenatchee is a great place to drive the country roads and take in a spring mosaic of green, yellow and white. The Palouse country around Palouse Falls State Park to Lyons Ferry is another great place to see flowers, especially lupine. Other options to see the landscape in bloom include drives up the Entiat or Methow Valleys in North Central Washington as well as the drive around the highland lakes of Okanogan County east of Omak, Tonasket and Oroville. 
 
One other way to see the wildflowers, and lots of them, is by boat. You can do so by taking a guided jet boat trip from Clarkston or Lewiston into Hells Canyon. These springtime day trips allow you to see North America’s deepest gorge at its finest. While on board keep your eyes open for wildlife too, especially deer and bighorn sheep. If you are looking for jet boat companies go to the Visit Lewis and Clark Valley website at https://visitlcvalley.com/hells-canyon/hells-canyon-tours/.
 
Another way to immerse yourself in flowers this spring is to head to Skagit County near La Conner and Conway and tip toe through the tulips blooming in farmer’s fields now. Or, stay east of the Cascades and enjoy wildflower hikes at The Dalles Mountain Ranch off of Highway 14 in the Columbia River Gorge, along the trails found in the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge near Othello or hike the three-mile Scroggie Loop by Fishtrap Lake between Sprague and Cheney. 
 
Hikes with wildflowers north of I-90 include the Lower Mad River Trail west of Entiat or the historic McLaughlin Canyon Trail south of Tonasket, which was used by Hudson Bay fur traders and gold miners in the 1800’s. Finally, if you want a cardio work-out to go with your wildflower viewing, hike the 2.7 miles up Columbia Mountain. Located in the Colville National Forest west of Republic, you’ll gain 3348 feet in elevation before reaching the top of the 6,760-foot mountain but once there you can check out an old fire lookout and take in the views of the spring wildflowers blooming on the summit there. 
 
If you want more ideas about wildflower hikes in the Evergreen State, go to the Washington Trails Association website at http://wta.org. Once there go to the “Find a Hike” page and type in the keyword “wildflowers” for the region you are interested in. You’ll find all sorts of suggestions along with up-to-date trip reports from other hikers when you do.
 

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