Top 5 Locations for Summer Wildflowers: New Mexico

Written by on June 16, 2017 in NM Outdoor Adventures - Comments Off on Top 5 Locations for Summer Wildflowers: New Mexico

Despite the bulk of the state being classified as arid or desert terrain, New Mexico bursts into bloom in the summer months, particularly in the mountains. Almost anywhere in the mountains you’ll see some wildflowers and, of course, all of these locations are also great places to beat the summer heat. Like any of the Southwestern states, wildflower blooms are dependent on the amount of winter rains, however, here are our top five locations  to catch the riot of summer color.

1. East Fork of the Jemez River (Las Conchas Trail)

Located at an altitude of 8,400 feet, wildflower season runs throughout the summer month – June through September. The river meanders through conifer forests and open meadows, providing a stunning backdrop for spring blooms. The stream, meadows, boulders and forests provide a good diversity of wildflower habitats. The trail is roughly four miles long if you turn around after the switchbacks that climb out of the canyon.

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2. Lookout National Forest (Lookout Mountain Peak)

Mid-August is probably the best time to view this alpine paradise, elevation 11,500 feet. The Lookout Mountain Peak ski lift will let you out just 100 feet shy of the summit, where hiking trails will allow to explore a profusion of wildflowers like Rusby’s primrose, New Mexico stonecrop, and King’s crown, not to mention take in the astonishing panoramic views.

3. Sandia Mountains (Sandia Crest)

The Sandia Mountains are a small range east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Access to the Sandia Mountains is by paved road to Sandia Crest. A trail from the parking lot (southwestern corner) is paved for part of the way for easy wheelchair access, then turns to packed dirt. It follows the Sandia Crest’s limestone outcrops and then heads into forest, so you can see both sun-loving and shade-loving plants, including Rocky Mountain penstemon, western wallflower and perky Sue. The best months are June through September to view this array of wild beauty.

4. Santa Fe (Santa Fe Ski Basin)

July and August are the best wildflower viewing months as the elevation of the ski basin is between 10,000 and 12,000 feet. The ski lift can take you all the way to the top. The area is famous for orchids including the Calypso orchid, coralroot orchid and rattlesnake orchid.

5. Sangre de Cristo Mountains (Valle Vidal)

This lush mountain basin, located in the heart of New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is home a profusion of wildflowers like penstemon, paintbrush, cinquefoils, harebells, skyrocket, purple geranium and much more. It is also home to abundant wildlife including a large elk herd. The vistas of high peaks, forests and alpine meadows are breathtaking. Summer rains in July and August bring out the best colors of the season.

 

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