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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wildflowers of Grand Teton National Park

The winter was unstoppable this year. The snow piled up continuosly from January to May with many areas of Jackson Hole recieving over 700 inches of snow throughout the season (that's nearly 60 feet!). Although this exceptional amount of snow made for a slow start to our hiking season, it has some neat benefits, one being an abundance of water for the wildflowers of Grand Teton National Park to drink up all summer.

As things thawed throughout May and June and the sagebrush began to push through the snow cover we began to see the first spots of brilliant color announcing that flowers were on their way. It wasn't long before fields of yellow arrowleaf balsamroot, and blue lupine were blanketing sections of the valley floor.

The flowers begin blooming at the lower elevations and climb up the mountainsides chasing the receding snow. Different types of flowers grow at different elevations. Larger more robust species like the arrowleaf balsamroot, lupine, sticky geranium and indian paintbrush thrive in the valley. Moving up through the forests and mid-elevations you may find more intricate flowers such as monkshood, harebell, columbine, steer's head or shooting star. In the upper alpine zone's the flowers are small and close to the ground, look for moss campion, alpine forget-me-not and flox.

The color these flowers provide polk-a-dots and embellishes an already magnificent landscape.