In particular: The Paradise section of the park is famous for its glorious views and wildflower meadows; try the Alta Vista Trail for amazing views; Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls also offers a wealth of wildflowers, and is wheelchair accessible with assistance. Spray Park Trail has as many flowers as Paradise, but far fewer visitors.
Info: nps.gov/mora; flowersofrainier.com
Why: Lady Bird Johnson, a native Texan, loved wildflowers, and led a campaign to spread their beauty to cities around America. The profusion of bluebonnets across the Texas Hill Country around Austin is one result of the program she initiated to have highway medians in Texas seeded with wildflowers.
When: Peak season for bluebonnets is the first two weeks in April.
In particular: The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin offers beautiful gardens as well as a wealth of information on bluebonnets (and other wildflowers) and where to see them. For a great drive through the blues, take U.S. 290 west from Austin to Johnson City's lovely Wildflower Loop, then take U.S. 281 north to Burnet, the official bluebonnet capital of Texas. The 29th Annual Bluebonnet Festival was held April 13.
Info: wildflower.org; for updates on bloom sightings, the Texas highway department has a wildflower hotline, 800-452-9292 and posts updates at txdot.gov/travel/flora(underscore)conditions.htm.
—GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, NORTH CAROLINA AND TENNESSEE
Why: With more than 1,600 flowering species, it's earned the nickname Wildflower National Park. Variations in elevation, rainfall, temperature and geology contribute to that diversity of flowering plants - more than in any other North American national park. The show begins in February, with the "ephemerals" such as trillium, iris, little brown jugs and violets making brief appearances through mid-May; followed by extravagant displays of mountain laurel, rhododendron, azalea, and other heath family shrubs flowering en masse through July with aster, goldenrod and Joe-Pye weed up to 10 feet tall lasting through the fall.
When: Late winter to late fall.
In particular: The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is a five-day festival of programs and guided walks and hikes in the park; this year's fest, the 62nd, is Wednesday through Saturday.
Info: nps.gov/grsm, greatsmokies.com; springwildflowerpilgrimage.org
Why: Natural conditions, along with some human intervention, have helped make Liberty County in the panhandle the best place in the state to view native wildflowers. Florida's garden clubs led the way in beautifying roadways with wildflowers in the '30s, and in the 1960s, the Florida Department of Transportation joined the effort — it is now planting wildflowers and maintaining natural populations along hundreds of miles of federal and state highways. State Route 65 from Telogia to Sumatra is prime viewing area.
When: Starting in late March.
In particular: A 26.5 mile stretch of SR 65 has been designated the Panhandle Wildflower Route from Sumatra to Telogia and covers land within the Apalachicola National Forest. It features 250-plus native species, Download a route map at the Florida Wildflower Foundation site, below.
—WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK, ALBERTA, CANADA