Bluebonnets, Primroses, and Winecups—Where to Catch Texas’s Wildflower Season at Its Best

As the Doug Sahm song goes, it’s spring in Texas and there’s bluebonnets on the hillside and mallow in the air.

Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes blooming on the side of a road in Texas

Wildflower season is upon us in Texas—here’s how to get the most out of the blooms this spring.

Photos by Dean Fikar/Shutterstock

There are many things that get Texans excited—a cold Lone Star, a short line at a favorite barbecue joint, generously packed breakfast tacos—but few things spark as much fervor and joy across the state as wildflower season.

This year, thanks to a deluge of winter rains, wildflower season in Texas has started early and Indian blankets, brown-eyed Susans, Mexican hats, and, of course, the beloved bluebonnet are blooming strong all across the Lone Star state right now. Though some folks are lucky enough to have Texas wildflowers growing in their yards, it can be tricky figuring out where exactly blossoms will reliably appear. And with more than 5,000 different types of wildflowers and 3,000 miles of highways in Texas, the task of finding a good flower viewing spot can seem daunting.

Here’s everything you need to know to enjoy this year’s wildflower season.

The best time to to see wildflowers in Texas

Typically, the wildflower season in Texas lasts roughly from March through May, with bluebonnets expecting to reach their peak bloom at the end of March. Some Texas springs bring just a hint of color across the countryside, while others herald in vast carpets of blooms stretching as far as the eye can see. This spring, thanks to a wet winter, the wildflower season promises to be particularly delightful.

Brown-eyed Susans and Indian blanket wildflowers in Texas's dawn light

There are more than 5,000 types of wildflower species in Texas.

Photo by Dean Fikar/Shutterstock

Common types of wildflowers in Texas

There are thousands of types of wildflowers that bloom within the state. Here are four of the most common (and popular) species that you’ll be able to see.

Range: Statewide
Season: January to April

There are actually six different types of bluebonnets that bloom within Texas: the annual lupine, Big Bend bluebonnet, perennial bluebonnet, dune bluebonnet, sandyland bluebonnet, and Texas bluebonnet. All are considered to be the official state flower. This is perhaps the most popular wildflower in the Lone Star State (residents love to take engagement photos, maternity shoots, and baby pictures in bluebonnet fields), and they can be identified by their distinctive blue and white “bonnets.”

White Prickly Poppies
Range: Central, South, and East Texas
Season: March and April

These nettle-like flowers are absolute showstoppers—and not just because they’re gorgeous. Prickly poppies are so thorny that cattle will leave them completely untouched even in times of drought when all other vegetation has been exhausted. White prickly poppies can grow up to three feet tall.

Indian Paintbrushes
Range: Statewide
Season: February through June

Indian paintbrushes get their name from their unique blossoms, which look as if their tips have been dipped in vibrantly colored paint. The flower’s color can range from red to orange to a bright shade of purple. There’s an old Texas legend associated with this flower (also the subject of a children’s book, The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush), which tells the story of how a young Native American boy used Indian paintbrushes to decorate the evening sky.

Prickly Pear Cactuses
Range: Statewide, but most abundant in the coastal south
Season: Year round, but most commonly found after rain

Prickly pears are known for their intimidating spike- and needle-covered paddles, but they should perhaps be better known for their impressively large blossoms, which can appear in hues of deep scarlet to sunshine yellow. After the flowers have run their course, prickly pear cactuses bear fruit, prickly pears (sometimes also called tuna), which are sweet and edible and often made into a jelly.

A field of blue bonnets near Cerro Castella in Big Bend National Park

Though most might not expect it, Big Bend National Park is a great place to find wildflowers.

Photo by Terri Butler Photography/Shutterstock

The best places to see wildflowers in Texas

Texas is known for having some of the most flower-peppered highways in the nation—the Texas Department of Transportation has been seeding roadsides with wildflowers since the 1930s—but it’s not generally considered safe to pull off to the side of the road to take pictures (nor would a highway make a very enticing background for a photo). Instead, head for these photogenic locations, some of the state’s best places to see wildflowers.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Location: 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin| See on Google Maps

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was founded in 1982 by former first lady Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson and actress Helen Hayes. The center’s 284 acres are home to 900 species of plants native to Texas—it also maintains the most comprehensive database of native plants for North America. The best time to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is from March through May, when flowers like bluebonnets are blooming and it’s still not too hot in Texas. Tickets start at $15 per person.

McKinney Falls State Park
Location: 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, Austin | See on Google Maps

McKinney Falls State Park is located 20 minutes from the heart of the Texas capital and offers 641 acres and more than nine miles of trails for visitors to explore. It’s sometimes affectionately called “Austin’s backyard,” and thanks to its close proximity, is probably one of the most convenient places for Austinites (and visitors to Austin) to see wildflowers. At McKinney Falls, guests can see wildflowers such as prickly pears, brown-eyed Susans, and, of course, bluebonnets. Before leaving the park, don’t forget to visit “Old Baldy,” the oldest bald cypress tree growing on public land in the state—estimated to be more than 500 years old, it clocks in at 103 feet tall. Admission to the park starts at $6 per person.

A field of bluebonnets near the Bluebonnet House in Marble Falls

The Bluebonnet House is said to be the most photographed home in Texas.

Photo by Todd S. Holder/Shutterstock

The Bluebonnet House
Location: 4554 N. U.S. Highway 281, Marble Falls | See on Google Maps

The Bluebonnet House is sometimes referred to as the “most photographed home in Texas.” This stone home is located among the rolling knolls of Texas Hill Country in Marble Falls, a picturesque town popular with retirees, situated near a reservoir of the Colorado River. Every spring, seemingly without fail, the fields surrounding the home burst into deep shades of azure, as thousands of bluebonnets bloom. It’s one of the most popular spots to take bluebonnet pictures in the state.

Wildseed Farms
Location: 100 Legacy Drive, Fredericksburg | See on Google Maps

About an hour’s drive southwest from the Bluebonnet House is Wildseed Farms, which is the largest working wildflower farm in the United States. The farm sprawls over 1,000 acres of prime Hill Country land, 200 of which are dedicated to growing wildflowers. In addition to growing native flora, Wildseed Farms also grows grapes and makes wine on the property. If you’d like to take a bit of Texas flower beauty home with you, there’s a nursery on the property.

Big Bend National Park
Location: Big Bend National Park | See on Google Maps

Though some might not expect it, the West Texas desert can be a great place to spot wildflowers in the spring, especially after rain. Here, visitors can see plants adapted to arid climates like the desert lantana, feather daleas, desert marigolds, and prickly pear cactuses, as well as the Big Bend bluebonnet, which is the tallest variety of that flower in the state—they usually grow alongside paved roads. And with jagged mountains and dramatic desert landscape, Big Bend National Park is arguably one of the best places to see bluebonnets in Texas. Entrance to Big Bend starts at $30 per vehicle.

Mae Hamilton is a former associate editor at AFAR. She covers all things related to arts, culture, and the beautiful things that make travel so special.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR