Flowers in the mountains of central Idaho look like a painter’s well-used palette

“It’s pretty when you can’t see the road because of the explosion of flowers,” said Mike, my boulder hunting partner, as we crossed a flower-covered hill.

“There are reds and blues mixed with yellows. Now, if we could find rocks the same color as the flowers, that would be a great trip. »

We had never seen such a variety or number of flowers bloom in the mountains of central Idaho as we did on Wednesday. Recent weekend rainstorms in the area have saturated the lower foothills, creating enough moisture to reach deep enough to sprout dormant seeds from grass as well as flowers.

I’m no botanist and flower identification is rather difficult for me, especially the yellow sunflower-like plants that have painted many crests. While studying the yellow flowers, I was able to see at least seven different sunflower-like flowers. Looking closer at the acres of ground cover, we found white, purple, blue, red, pink and orange flowers as we crossed ravines and ridges.

In the foothills near Appendicitis Ridge, we encountered a patch of Indian brushes that looked like a painter’s well-used palette. Not only did it have the traditional red, but different pops of light and dark pink, a purple, orange and yellow all in one bouquet. A bouquet fit for a queen or a chef’s wife.

Many low hills in central Idaho are covered in flowers due to the heavy rains in this area. | Bill Schiess,

In meadows near small springs we have found Rocky Mountain Iris in white and blue/white combinations. Where the swampy areas met the edge of the sagebrush, we found both Blue Violets and Yellow Nuttall Violets. Patches of Blue Penstemon with its clusters of bluebell flowers were eye-catching when we encountered them.

There were many other flowers that I couldn’t identify. One of them was a beautiful white flower that seemed to have no leaves. It grew in extremely rocky ground and in many spaces. It was the only plant that grew but shared the area with the rocks and agate nodules.

Getting to some of these bloom points is a bit tricky and a high clearance vehicle is required to get there. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is about 25 miles from where we observed the blooms, so I contacted them to see what the bloom conditions were there.

“Right now the flowers are just peaking,” Melissa, a Craters employee, told me.

blue khakis
The bright blue of the Blue Penstemon adds to the beauty of the hills of central Idaho. | Bill Schiess,

This is her first season working at the monument and she is learning more about the flora there. The next 10 days to two weeks would be the perfect time to visit the momument. The monument’s website says there is camping available, but no water available. And you need to complete a permit to enter some caves. Some of the caves are closed due to illness in some of the bats that live there.

With rains forecast next Sunday and Monday, new species of flowers could continue to explode, providing a great experience. Wet weather also allows ticks to thrive, so if you plan on hiking in tall grass, sagebrush, or even flowers, using a good insecticide would help.

Good luck and enjoy the great outdoors of Idaho.

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