Best Time to See Wildflowers in Yosemite
The best time to see wildflowers in Yosemite National Park is mid-spring, when the most blooms are open and the weather is perfect for exploring. While you can see wildflowers nearly year round in Yosemite, spring and summer wildflowers are the most plentiful, adding bright color to this immense natural park that features over 1,400 different wildflower species.
Yosemite Wildflowers in Spring
Wildflowers begin their bloom in the lower elevations of Yosemite National Park in early March. Flower spotters gather to see the first blooms of the season on the western edge of the park in Merced River canyon, which include spider lupines, owl’s clover, redbuds, and tufted orange poppies. Wapama Falls in Hetch Hetchy, Cook’s Meadow Loop in the valley, and Wawona Meadow Loop are great places to see wildflowers at lower elevations in Yosemite.
In higher elevations of the park, spring bloom kicks off with the appearance of bright red flowers popping through the snow. Aptly named snow plants, these red florals emerge from the ground before the snow melts at higher elevations and use soil fungi rather than photosynthesis to thrive. Along stream banks and in wet meadows, look for leopard lily, shooting stars, marsh marigold, and great red paintbrushes.
Yosemite Wildflowers in Summer
Yosemite’s summer wildflower blooms begin in late June, with vibrant pink shooting stars popping up in the park’s green meadows. Species like cinquefoils, asters, mousetail, and subalpine paintbrush follow the shooting stars into beautiful Tuolumne Meadows shortly after. The rest of the summer at subalpine elevations sees fireweed, mountain dandelion, red heather, corn lilies, larkspurs, and Brewer’s lupine. The best trails to see these early summer wildflowers in Yosemite are those that stem from Tuolumne Meadows, like Lyell Canyon and Elizabeth Lake.
Depending on the weather and when snow melt occurs, wildflowers may not emerge at higher elevations in the park until early July. The first bloomers in the subalpine meadows are alpine laurel, buttercup, Sierra butterweed, and steer’s head, followed by alpine asters, knotweed, angelica, and swamp onion. Also beginning near Tuolumne Meadows, popular trails for wildflower spotting at the top of the park include Mono Pass and Gaylor Lakes.
Insider Tips for Planning a Wildflower Expedition
Not sure where to start? Follow these insider tips for planning a wildflower expedition in Yosemite:
- Visit the recreation desk during your stay at one of our Yosemite hotels: Evergreen Lodge, Rush Creek Lodge, or Firefall Ranch. A staff member will be able to tell you the spots that are perfect for wildflower viewing during your stay dates.
- Create a flexible itinerary to accommodate weather, slow-paced strolls through your favorite areas, and exciting discoveries in the park
- Refer to the National Park Service website before you visit for the most up-to-date information about the park, including the latest news about wildflower blooms, road closures, pass and permit requirements, and more
- Join a ranger-led wildflower excursion – check the park’s calendar for the schedule of events, usually added about a month in advance
Thanks to the range of elevations in Yosemite, there are almost always wildflowers to be seen – but the best time to go to Yosemite for wildflowers is spring and summer, when the most blooms are present and pollinators add to the magical scenes. Plan your Yosemite wildflower excursion now to see breathtaking landscapes home to over 1,400 species of wildflowers. Find more information about the best time of year to visit Yosemite.