When July arrives, you can usually find me out scouting Wildflower locations. Living in Durango, Colorado in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado gives me local access to an amazing selection of spots where the wildflowers are in bloom. Some of my favorite locations change dramatically from year to year, and in some locales I have favorite bunches of Colorado Columbine, Parry’s Primrose, Marsh Marigold, and Lupine (to name a few).
After buying most books on Colorado wildflowers, in my humble opinion, Wildflowers of Colorado, a Field Guide, is a great book with good identification photos of over 200 flowers. No one book covers ALL the flowers in the Rocky Mountains, this one stands out and stays in my car for the season.
Click on the links below to see examples of San Juan Wildflowers
- Parry’s Primrose: Columbus Basin, La Plata Canyon – Best in early June
- Colorado Columbine: Cunningham Gulch to Highland Mary Lakes trail – Mid July & August
- Wild Iris and Aspen Forests, Echo Basin Road, La Platas – Best in mid June
- Columbine and Aspens: Echo Basin Road, La Platas – Best in late June, early July
- Wild Lupine: West Mancos Road, La Platas – Best in early to late June
- Tall Chiming Bluebells: Clear Lake, Mineral Creek Road – July and August
Driving to wildflower locations in Colorado usually means traveling on 4WD roads, none of the roads listed on this page require high clearance 4WD. That said, I pack my car for any emergency and leave a travel log with a friend so someone knows where I am (and I make a call to let them know “all’s well” at the end of the day.
Photo gear includes all the gear listed here on my blog.
For making photos at the best times of the day, I tend to camp at the locations, or nearby, and get up for early light and stay for late light. It helps to know the direction of the sun, and there are plenty of apps for the iPhone and iPad that help with navigation and tracking.
On day trips I hang out and watch the light, chase the light and then set up my tripod for the best composition, exposure and image. It helps to be patient as its rare that the flowers are in a windless location. Creekside photography often leads to enjoying the location while I wait for lack of wind on the subject. Columbine and bluebells are the most difficult to photograph because of the wind, so sometimes I sacrifice depth of field to gain shutter speed. Sometimes I scout one day and return the next day. When teaching workshops I scout the best time and locations just days before our Chase the Light Adventures.
2019 Wildflower Season: Our epic snowfall in the Mountains of Colorado has me drooling for this summer’s wildflower season. We will explore and photograph at some of the most prolific locations for Colorado Columbine, Paintbrush, Marsh Marigold, Brook Cress and other high altitude flowers. Chase the Light Photography will escort you to our favorite locations outside of Silverton, Durango and Mancos, Colorado.
Bring your digital camera gear, your assortment of lenses, a point and shoot or your iPhone for sketching and composition lessons. Bring your tripod, it’s essential so that we can work with you to improve your compositions and wildflower images. Bring your enthusiasm and dress in layers.
Links to other sites about wildflowers:
Colorado State University Arboretum site: Photo Album very useful for identification of
Celebrating Wildflowers: US Forest Service site – site includes viewing areas in the Rockies and closer to home at Lizard Head Pass & San Juan Skyways