As temperatures here in the mountains begin to warm, and the foliage begins to return to the trees, the plethora of spring wildflowers and blooms also begin to emerge.
The array of colors, shapes, and smells is one of the most wonderful scenes in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and people from all around the world visit to see the amazing blooms.
We personally love getting out in the spring to do some spring hiking to photograph the wildflowers.
While blooms can be found all through the Blue Ridge Mountains, below you’ll find some of our top spots to see absolutely gorgeous spring blooms. These very special places don’t disappoint!
1 – The Blue Ridge Parkway/Skyline Drive
Nearly the entire Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive explode with wildflowers in the spring. When stopping at an overlook, it’s difficult to not find beautiful wildflowers. The pure diversity of wildflowers along the Parkway is like nothing you’ll see anywhere else.
Blooms begin in late March and go all the way through October, and Fall Colors. Experts at the National Park Service state that out of the approximate 1600 plant species you’ll find along the Parkway, more than 80% of them are wildflowers. The prime time is in the spring from late April to Mid May, as the flowers begin to emerge.
Pro Tip – Remember, that elevations on the Parkway vary greatly, which impacts when flowers bloom and peak. Flowers at lower elevations will peak sooner than flowers at higher elevations.
The forest floor, below the leafing out trees, are covered with many different types of wildflowers, and the scene is always beautiful, and often breathtaking.
There are a few particular locations along the drive that should be on all spring wildflower fans short list to see, these include:
- Craggy Gardens
- Grandfather Mountain
- Graveyard Fields
Again though, while these places are particular highlights, pay attention to the roadside as you drive along the Parkway, beautiful wildflowers are everywhere. So take your time, and stop often, just be sure to be fully off the road.
>> For more information on the Blue Ridge Parkway, visit our Blue Ridge Parkway Guide.
2 – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for many things, but did you know it’s world famous for wildflowers, especially in the spring?
The Park contains more than 1,600 types of flowing plants and wildflowers. This is more than ANY other National Park in the United States!
Like the Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park varies in elevation, so peak bloom times are different depending on elevation. Blooms normally begin around Mid-April at lower elevations. Blooms at higher elevations can be up to 3-4 weeks later.
While wildflowers are visible roadside along Highway 441, and many of the other sideroads, the best place to see the numerous varieties of wildflowers and spring blooms are the on the hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the park.
Some of our personal favorite Wildflower Trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park include:
- Oconoluftee River Trail, which starts at the Oconoluftee Visitor Center – This is a flat and an easy to walk trail that is also pet-friendly.
- Deep Creek Loop Trail
- Big Creek Trail
- Kepart Prong Trail
- Alum Bluff Cave Trail
- Boogerman Trail in Cataloochee Valley
>> Be sure to visit our Great Smoky Mountains National Park Guide for more information on the park.
3 – Biltmore Gardens
One of the most beautiful gardens in the world is located at Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC. Biltmore has acres of both formal and informal gardens to explore. They additional have a climate controlled Conservatory, so you can enjoy plants from all over the world, year round.
In the Spring, Biltmore comes alive with Biltmore Blooms. You’ll want to visit to see the thousands of Tulips, and numerous other flower plants fill the Gardens with color.
We would encourage you to hike and walk along the many trails at Biltmore, as this will give you not only an opportunity to see the planted plants but to enjoy the many different wildflowers that grow on the Estate as well.
>> For more Information on Biltmore Estate, and the Gardens, see our 2018 Biltmore Estate Guide
4 – Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
A truly unique place to visit, that is full of Spring smells, colors, and blooms is the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge.
When a new bridge was put in place, rather than destroy the old bridge, they converted it into an absolutely beautiful, and almost magical flower garden, that is simply gorgeous in the Spring, Summer, and Fall.
This is a wonderful place for kids, as there are lots of small details for kids to find, and little paths to explore.
>> See our Guide to the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge for more information!
4 – North Carolina Arboretum
The North Carolina Arboretum, located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville NC is a real hidden gem.
This more than 430-acre public garden is literally a natural garden, in Pisgah National Forest, one of the most scenic and beautiful National Forests in the country. The Arboretum is full of cultivated gardens and groomed trails featuring some of the most beautiful, botanically-diverse plants in the region.
The gardens themselves are 65 acres, and pay tribute to the region’s rich cultural heritage and also reinforce the importance of plants to our world, and the Southern Appalachians.
Visitors from all over the world come to enjoy and explore the Arboretum’s exhibits and gardens, including one of the finest, most unique bonsai collections in the United States.
In the Spring, the Gardens come to life with Spring blooms and is absolutely stunning. Not only are there cultivated gardens, but the gardens and grounds are full of naturally growing wildflowers.
For more information, see the North Carolina Arboretum website.
>> Do you like to hike? Be sure to check out our Top Spring Wildflower Hikes <<
5 – Pisgah National Forest
Pisgah National Forest accounts for a very large portion of forest and mountains surrounding Asheville NC. Pisgah National Forest is huge and contains numerous campgrounds, hiking trails, scenic views, and waterfalls.
Three areas in particular, within Pisgah National Forest that are known for their wildflowers are:
- Pink Beds – This very popular trail, located in the Pisgah Ranger District, off Highway 276 near Brevard NC, takes hikers through Pink Beds Valley. The trail is mainly flat and full of wildflowers in the spring, especially pink ones, hence the name.
- Roan Mountain – One of the most scenic places in the Blue Ridge, Roan Mountain is a high elevation mountaintop bald, that offers 360-degree views and many varieties of wildflowers and rhododendron in the Spring.
- Max Patch – Another high elevation bald, that is on the famous Appalachian Trail. The views and wildflowers are stunning in the spring.
>> For more detailed information on Pisgah National Forest, see our Pisgah National Forest Guide.
6 – Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park, located adjacent to Skyline Drive in Western Virginia. Wildflower season here runs from Mid-March to the end of summer. Shenandoah National Park hosts more than 850 species of flowering plants and is one of the best places in the Blue Ridge to see wildflowers.
To celebrate the flowers, The National Park has Wildflower Weekend in early May
This rich diversity of wildflowers in Shenandoah National Park is particularly evident in spring at the lower elevations along streams such as South River, Hughes River, Rose River, and Mill Prong.
Tips for seeing Wildflowers
- Bring your camera, and be familiar with it’s Macro settings – Macro shots of wildflowers and plants can be absolutely amazing.
- Never pick the flowers! In fact, in all national parks and forests, picking the flowers is a federal offense.
- Purchase a Wildflower Guide – Having these handy pocket guides to help you identify flowers, is incredibly helpful. There are some iPhone apps, but they require an internet connection, which is rare in many of the remote areas of the parks:
- Be careful where you tread. Try your best to avoid walking on the flowers, and especially into fields of flowers. If even a small number of visitors steps on the flowers, they’ll be ruined for everyone else. Remember, Leave No Trace!
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