Wildflowers in the Camas Prairie
in Southern Idaho.
It’s officially spring in Idaho. The snow is melting and the rivers are running fast. And with that comes longer days and milder weather drawing visitors and residents out of ski lodges and cabins and into the great outdoors of Idaho.
Hunting for springtime blooms is a popular pastime in Idaho. Spend a weekend exploring the backcountry in search of some of Idaho’s abundant wildflowers. Starting in late March, flowers bloom in the lower elevations and in the higher elevations as warmer weather rolls in. Idaho wildflowers generally peak in late July and early August in the highest elevations (10,000 feet-plus.) Most of the locations listed below are easily accessible and make great day hikes or bikes.
In late May, depending on spring weather, the camas fields turn blue and purple in southern Idaho’s Camas Prairie near Fairfield and can be easily viewed from Hwy. 20-26. The prairie is an ancient lake bed, surrounded on all sides by mountainous terrain, which has undergone a geologic transformation and now exists as a high prairie community. A small creek, Camas Creek, is fed seasonally by spring runoff and inundates the surrounding land, creating a unique marsh habitat. This area is also an excellent place to view waterfowl and other bird species.
In June, the snow is long gone in the Wood River Valley. Adams Gulch in Ketchum and Greenhorn Gulch, two popular biking trails near Hailey, are great destinations for wildflower seekers. Grab your bike and pack a picnic, as there are plenty of places to pull-off and enjoy lunch among the flowers. You’ll see lupine, Indian paintbrush, shooting stars, arrow leaf balsamroot and many other species of plants and flowers. Stop in at the Sun Valley/Ketchum Convention and Visitors Bureau for more information on local flora and fauna.
In Northern Idaho, about 100 miles northwest of Coeur d’Alene, are the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. About 14 miles past the small town of Nordman on Highway 57, you’ll find a unique area of old-growth cedar named for President Theodore Roosevelt. Some of the trees date back 3,000 years.
Hike to the North Fork of Granite Creek, a high-mountain creek that winds through stands of towering ancient western red cedar trees. Two trails are maintained from the trailhead. An easy trail of 365 feet runs along the creek bringing hikers to a viewpoint of the Lower Granite Creek Falls cascading over a sheer rock wall, and a one-mile loop trail of moderate difficulty leads up the old road for 200 feet above the trailhead. This longer trail will bring you to views of the Upper Granite Creek Falls and the Lower Granite Creek Falls.
Here, among old-growth cedars, wildflowers are abundant carpeting the forest floor. Look for shades of pink, yellow, blue or white. Common species include lily of the valley, spring beauty, trilliums, violets, foam flower, and wild ginger. The cool and moist climate in this secluded snap shot of history make this a wonderful excursion on a sunny summer day.
Idaho—Adventures in Living
Idaho is home to thousands of miles of biking trails, mountains to climb, lakes to fish, 17 ski resorts and more whitewater than any other state in the lower 48. So take a break from it all and come out to play. Idaho—adventures in living. Visit www.visitidaho.org for more information and vacation ideas.