KUSA — Every spring and summer in Colorado, beautiful blooms begin to appear throughout the state.
Here are a few of the places you can hike or drive to enjoy the rainbow of flowers:
Littleton Crabapple Route
What started as a beautification project over 40 years ago has now become one of the defining features of this Denver suburb, and makes it one of the best places to see these colorful flowering trees. By last count the city has 6,727 of them, many of which line the streets on what is called the "Crabapple Route." The official trail is marked by signs put up by the city in 2011 to continue expanding the original project.
PHOTOS: Littleton Crabapple Route
Best time to see blooms: Early- to mid-April
Location: Littleton; esp. Prince St, W. Lake Ave, S. Elati St.
Types of flowers: Crabapple trees
Roxborough State Park
From a challenging 6.4-mile trek to an easy half-mile loop, the park offers trails for trips of any length. Although it's close to Denver, the 3,245-acres of natural land can easily make you feel much farther away. It's known as a transition zone, or an area where the environment transitions from the plains to the mountains and therefore in a couple feet you can see wildflowers you normally find miles apart. Try the Willow Creek Trail, a gentle 1.4 mile loop known for its flowers and red rock formations. A daily pass into the park is $7 per vehicle.
Best time to see blooms: Early May - June
Location: US-85 S from Denver to Titan Rd
Types of flowers: Violet, larkspur, poppy, orchid, lily, paintbrush, lupine, prairie flower, gilia, etc.
Lory State Park
Northwest of Fort Collins, the park includes 20 miles of flower-lined trails for every type of hiker. Try the Well Gulch nature trail, an easy 1.4 mile walking loop that is a great way to see wildflowers as well as other wetland vegetation, wildlife, and hundreds of butterflies; or Arthur's Rock Trail, where you weave in and out of open meadows filled with colorful blooms and rock formations. You can pick up a brochure at the trailhead or visitor's center that will help identify some of what you see as you walk along the routes. Day passes for the state park are $7 per vehicle.
Best time to see blooms: Mid-June
Location: Lory State Park; US-287 north to County Road 54G
Types of flowers: 5-dozen varieties of wildflowers including violet, chickweed, bluebell, buttercup, etc.
Since it's known as the "wildflower capital of Colorado," you should probably go to Crested Butte if you want to fully experience Colorado's wildflower season. One, more unique, option there is to visit Crested Butte Mountain Resort – in the summer you can ride the lift, mountain bike, take guided hikes, horseback ride, play disk golf and more all while enjoying the hundreds of flower varieties that take over the slopes. And don't miss the Wildflower Festival - July 13-19 this year - featuring tours, hikes along some of the most popular area trails, and art, gardening and photography classes, all in the midst of one of the most beautiful and colorful landscapes in the state.
PHOTOS: A wildflower hike near Crested Butte
Best time to see blooms: mid-June - September
Location: Crested Butte, US-285 S to US-50 W
Types of flowers: sunflowers, paintbrush, columbine, lupine, daisies, fireweed, lilies, etc.
Alpine Loop Scenic Byway
This 65-mile, four-wheel-drive route near Ouray, Lake City and Silverton is only open for a few months each year while it's snow-free. The road takes you over Engineer and Cinnamon Pass, both of which top out at 12,000 feet, and provide incredible vantage points of 5 of Colorado's 14ers: Uncompahagre, Wetterhorn, Handies, Sunshine and Redcloud peaks. If you haven't seen this area of Colorado before, it's worth the trip: the mountains almost look splattered with red, purple and yellow paint, making them breathtaking and truly unique.