The month of July is the height of the wildflower season in the mountains of Colorado — delicate Columbine, bright purple Lupine, Indian Paintbrush, a wide variety of wild daisies, wild roses, and many more. There is no place better for viewing these beautiful blooms than at the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Having visited Crested Butte every summer for the past 10 years or so, I have found two great spots for wildflower viewing. The first is just north of Crested Butte along the Slate River Road up over Paradise Divide and down through Washington Gulch. This requires at least an SUV to make it up the steep gravel roads, which are in decent condition, but still too rough for a regular vehicle. I saw more Columbine along Slate River Road than I’ve ever seen in my life this summer (2010). The second spot is on the way to the little town of Gothic, where the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory has its summer home. Entire hillsides along the way overflow each year with dozens of varieties of wildflowers and herbs. Again, an SUV is a good idea as the gravel road can get pretty rough.
However, if you don’t feel up to venturing out alone and need help identifying what you are looking at, the folks Crested Butte have got it covered. Every summer, just after the 4th of July, Crested Butte hosts the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival starring the wildflowers of the surrounding area. Crested Butte Wildflower Festival Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of wildflowers through education and conservation. The volunteers and instructors are committed to protecting these priceless natural botanical resources for future generations. The event began in 1986, but has since grown into a week-long celebration with over 200 classes offered by over 80 instructors, tour guides and volunteers.
Events during the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival include:
- 4 x 4, Wagon Rides, Walks, Photography and Hiking Tours
- Art Classes
- Birding and Butterfly Tours
- Botany and Conservation Classes
- Edibles (cooking classes using edible flowers)
- Garden Tours
- Gardening and Landscaping Classes
- Medicinals (uses of wildflowers and herbs as medicinals and teas)
- Wildflower Yoga Hikes
Many of the locals business, especially the resorts and hotels in the area, offer special discounts during the festival. A couple of great places to eat in the area include Garlic Mike’s Italian Cuisine, The Last Steep, The Avalanche and La Bisque to name just a few. Local attractions include the Curecanti National Recreation Area, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the West Elk Mountain Range, and dozens of great fishing spots along Spring Creek, Spring Creek Reservoir, the Slate River, the Taylor River and Taylor Reservoir, Gunnison River and Blue Mesa Reservoir.
For more information on the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, as well as register for any of the events or classes contact:
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival
PO Box 216
Crested Butte, CO 81224