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a splash of color

The valleys and mountain slopes of the Sierra Nevada are famed for their springtime wildflowers. In planning our trip, D found several hiking sites dedicated to wildflower exploration, which were filled with enthusiastic descriptions of dozens of wildflower species and gorgeous photos of lush meadows that carpeted the highlands in rainbow splotches of color.

indian paintbrush

The only problem is that nature’s definition of springtime does not always correspond to mankind’s calendars. Road-tripping in May, we thought we’d catch the tail end of spring before the wildflower season gave way to the summer heat. Instead we got snow, and more snow, and even more snow.


hairy vetch


On our first hike in search of wildflowers around Lake Tahoe we found just one lonely, limp yellow flower. Lundy Canyon, one of the top destinations for wildflower viewing in the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada, only offered sparse forget-me-nots. And although the snow plants were in abundance in Yosemite, their thick stalks were the only dash of color in an otherwise drab landscape.

snow plant


star thistle

wild morning glory

Throughout our wanderings, we saw various solitary flowers, which we scrupulously photographed — as much for their beauty as for the fact of their very existence amid all the melting snow. It wasn’t until we got to Big Sur at the very end of our trip that we were treated to the kind of color explosion we had been hoping to see.


As aspiring naturists, we tried to figure out the names of all these flowers through extensive googling (you can see the names if you hover your mouse over the photos). No guarantee that we got all of them right — there are way too many wildflowers, many of which resemble each other. 

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. So jealous, I would give anything to travel to the south west corner of the US. beautiful photos!

    July 15, 2013
    • Thank you! This was our first time exploring this part of the US also – we’re definitely planning on going back. We hope make it there one day.

      July 15, 2013

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