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Low Chiming Bells weathering a late spring storm.

Wildflowers bloom in Breckenridge from late-April through early-October, which means if it isn’t ski season, it’s wildflower season. The first spring blossoms peer out from under a late dusting of snow, and the last compete to spread their seeds before winter’s snowy inundation. We High Country dwellers treasure our wildflowers for their beauty and because they mark time: colorful Pasqueflowers tell us that spring has arrived, and the bright magenta Fireweed lets us know when winter is on its way.

 

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Columbine blooming in front of the Carter Museum on Ridge Street.

Visitors to Breckenridge also value our abundance of natural lands. Wildflowers need wild lands and are indicators of a healthy ecosystem.  Native trees, shrubs and meadows provide habitat for wildlife, birds, and bees for all of us to enjoy. No matter the summer month you visit Breckenridge, you’ll find a variety of nature’s blossoms to delight you.  Here are suggestions for times and places to view Breckenridge’s outstanding variety of wildflowers.

 

Early Season Wildflowers – April through June

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Lupine and Sneezeweed along the Blue River Trail near the Sawmill Museum

The earliest wildflowers will be found in sage meadows as soon as the snow melts. The scrubby plants serve as shade and protection for the tiny beauties to be discovered there. Some of the first flowers to bloom will be Pasqueflowers, Low Chiming Bells and the appropriately named Snowdrops. As spring makes way to summer, look to the sage/forest edge for the “wow” combination of red and purple together, the Scarlet Gilia and Silvery Lupine.

 

Height of Summer – June through August

The uncommon Fairy Slipper Orchid is a treat to find in the forest zone.

Wildflowers really take off in late June and climax by the third week in July, with a slow diminishment of blooms through the fall. If wildflowers are your thing, be sure to visit Breckenridge in mid- to late-July for the most glorious show.

In the height of summer, you have your best chance of seeing the most variety of flowers in any of our eco-zones. Wet areas will host the charming Elephant Heads and Tall Chiming Bells. Forests will add yellow Arnica, Wild Roses, and the elusive Fairy Slipper Orchids to their mix. Meadows will see Sneezeweed, several kinds of Penstemon, and the famous Colorado State Flower, the Columbine.

 

Late Summer – August through October

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Late-blooming Fireweed (not really a weed) lets us know when winter is on the way.

The high alpine zone is the place to check for late summer flowers, such as the diminutive Forget-Me-Not, brilliant red Queen’s Crown, and several varieties of Gentian. As summer turns to fall, watch for the brilliant pink Fireweed.  According to some Old Wives, when the Fireweed blooms to the top of its stalk, winter’s snows are 6 weeks away. Invariably, I have found this to be true.

Easy Places to Find Wildflowers around Breckenridge

Ice Rink and Sawmill Museum Trails:  Park at the Sawmill Museum on Boreas Pass Road and venture along the Blue River Trail for some of the best wildflowers in any season. Early summer blooms will be found in the sage meadows, and profuse flowers will be found in the wet meadow. Follow the Blue River Trail back toward the Ice Rink for forest flowers, or park at the Ice Rink and look for early spring blossoms in the sage meadow on the west side.

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Indian Paintbrush can be found on the hill at Carter Park

Carter Museum and Carter Park: The great 19th century naturalist, Edwin Carter, left a legacy of natural lands. Much of the grounds of his eponymous museum in downtown Breckenridge at Ridge Street and Wellington Road have been little disturbed since the 1870’s when Carter built his cabin there. In any season you’ll find a variety of Penstemons and other wildflowers with almost no effort.  Or venture to Carter Park at the south end of High Street and take a short walk up the hill for a combination of views and wildflowers that you won’t soon forget.

 

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Fields of Alpine Sunflower can be found along Boreas Pass Road. All photos by author.

 

Boreas Pass Road: It’s a dirt road, but easily passable by most vehicles.  As you approach the alpine zone, you’ll find huge meadows of brilliant yellow Alpine Sunflower. Stop at the top to explore the area above timberline for later summer bloomers.

Burro Trail:  Starting at Beaver Run Resort on Village Road, follow the Burro Trail along Lehman Creek for a gentle climb, a burbling creek, and plenty of water-loving wildflowers.

 

For more information on Colorado wildflowers, check out this resource.

And for more help in finding hiking trails in Breckenridge and a handy smartphone app, check out AllTrails.

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