Can’t find the shots you want close to home? During July and early August, world-class wildflower displays occur in the subalpine meadows of western mountains. These locations are top-rated. Call ahead to check on the blooming status.
Crested Butte and Environs, CO. The wilderness back roads surrounding this idyllic mountain town are splashed with color, usually best in early to mid-July. A 30-minute drive from Gunnison gets you into position. Blooming status: 800-814-7988. Info: www.crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com.
American Basin, San Juan Mountains, CO. These stream-laced meadows can be captured against the granite backdrop of the San Juan Mountains. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are available to get you up to the action, about 30 minutes from Lake City. Blooming status: 800-569-1874. Info: Search for “;American Basin Trail” at www.trails.com.
Yankee Boy Basin, San Juan Mountains, CO. Old mines, waterfalls, and unbelievable meadows greet photographers. You’ll need to take a four-wheel-drive (easily rented) or board an open-air alpine tour bus out of Ouray to reach the best spots. Blooming status: 800-569-1874. Info: www.npcolorado.net/favorite_places/yankee_boy_basin.html.
Paradise Meadows, Mount Rainier National Park, WA. Splattered across this monstrous volcano, the meadows are the highlight of a visit to this national park, less than 3 hours by car from Seattle. Blooming status: 360-569-2211, ext. 3314. Info: www.nps.gov/mora/home.html.
Albion Basin, Wasatch Mountains, UT. The trails through these meadows are located at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, above the ski resorts of Alta and Snowbird at more than 9,500 feet. An easy drive from Salt Lake City, you can view these flowers right from your car. Blooming status: 888-258-2840. Info: www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/regions/intermountain/AlbionBasin/index.html.