Signs of spring
In exciting news for wildflower watchers, bluebonnet season not only came earlier across Texas this spring, but the blooms are more abundant, more colorful, and even more fragrant than in recent years.
Thanks to plenty of rain and recent warm, sunny weather, the beloved state flower is painting the landscape blue along highways and in fields all over Texas. Bluebonnets were already peaking in the Houston area and throughout the Hill Country in late March. Don't wait too much longer to plan your flower expedition; they'll be past their prime by mid-April.
Here in Dallas-Fort Worth, we're a few weeks behind - but not too far off, as anyone who's driven on the local highways in the past week can attest. Our biggest bluebonnet mecca in the region, the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails, opened Saturday, April 1 - and by Easter weekend, they were breathtaking.
Following are areas in Dallas-Fort Worth and around Texas where folks have reported bluebonnets already, or where they're looking reliable for pretty photos further into spring. Hopefully, just like the flowers, this list will continue to grow.
And, don't forget: Bluebonnets aren't the only wildflower that bloom in spring. Indian paintbrush, Indian blanket, evening primrose, Mexican hat, anemone, redbud trees, Mexican plum, elbow bush, and coreopsis are also among the thousands of varieties that paint Texas with color throughout the season.
The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails, North Texas’ No. 1 spot for bluebonnet spotting, opened April 1 and run through the end of the month. The trails wind visitors through 40 miles of picturesque wildflowers. But not all of them bloom at the same time; be sure to stop at the Welcome Center for a map and expert guidance. The blooms are expected to peak around April 18, coinciding with the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival, April 14-16. There are exceptionally beautiful fields along Sugar Ridge Road on the North Loop Trail, spotters say. Those interested in making the trek about 60 miles southeast of Fort Worth can check out maps and updates on the website and social media channels. Download the Ennis Y’all mobile app to get all the information on your smartphone.
Dallas-Fort Worth roadsides, fields, and parks
Stopping beside a highway or posing for photos on the side of the road is never advised. But the blue patches are always thrilling for passengers to spot while traversing local freeways. Take them in before they get covered by tall grasses. Some to note: The lush fields of blue along either side of SH 183 are a pleasant diversion while stopped in rush-hour traffic near D/FW Airport. Look on either side of I-30 from Fort Worth to Arlington to Dallas (don't miss them between the Montgomery and Hulen exits in west Fort Worth). There are even some that have popped up at the onerous convergence of I-35W and I-30 near downtown Fort Worth. Also check them out along SH 114 in Grapevine, SH 75 going north out of Dallas, and I-635 in northwest Dallas. Drive I-45 south from Dallas, through Corsicana, toward Houston, and you’ll see them everywhere. The blooms also are thick along SH 287 toward Waxahachie. Inside Fort Worth city limits, the Weatherford Traffic Circle has more sprouting up each day.
Fort Worth Botanic Garden/BRIThas thousands of tulips and other spring flowers blooming, but you'll see some bluebonnets, too. Head toward the Cactus Garden greenhouse. Other colorful spring blooms that typically dot their landscape in spring: Texas mountain laurel, peach trees, crabapples, Redbuds, and Dogwood, and cherry blossoms. Keep up with what's flourishing in the gardens via their Facebook page.
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refugehas bluebonnets popping at the end of March, along with picturesque budding redbuds. The best way to find them is to take a naturalist-led tour ($5 with paid admission/members free). Nature hikes take place Thursdays, 10-11:30 am.
Grapevine always has reliable spots around Grapevine Lake. A favorite field for photos is next to the Toyota of Grapevine dealership, at 701 E State Hwy 114. Spotters say to head toward the Comfort Inn for the best patches.
In Mansfield, the flowers at Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park are looking pretty. Stroll among them on either side of the walking trails.
AtCleburne State Park, a hike up hills and on the trails is rewarded with breathtaking bluebonnets.
The Laura W. Bush Native Texas Park, a 15-acre urban park on the grounds of George W. Bush Presidential Center at SMU, features a one-mile network of trails that walks visitors through native Texas environments, including spring wildflowers. Bluebonnets are peeking out among a sea of other native wildflowers. According to park personnel, visitors will also find Winecup, Pink Evening Primrose, Plains Coreopsis, Engelman Daisy, Foxglove, Prairie Spiderwort, White Prairie Clover, Prairie Verbana, Texas Yellowstar, Gaillardia, and Scrambled Eggs. Download a guide to the flowers here.
Cedar Hill State Park, a favorite place for mountain bikers, has bluebonnets popping along the trails. Visitors are sure to see some on a guided hike, and the ranger-led sunrise hikes are especially rewarding.
Bluebonnet Trail Greenbelt in Plano was already popping with blooms at the end of March, with many more to come. Bluebonnet Trail runs from Central Expressway to Midway Road, following an Oncor power line easement and along Spring Creek Parkway and Chase Oaks Boulevard; it intersects with the Chisholm Trail in the middle of Plano and connects with the Preston Ridge Trail at Carpenter Park. View maps of the trails here and here.
McInnish Park & Sports Complex, Carrollton
This go-to spot in DFW is blooming nicely but not yet at peak in late March. Find it at 2335 Sandy Lake Rd., just off the Bush tollway.
Freedom Meadow, Frisco
The field at the Warren Sports Complex is a bluebonnet photo hot spot each year. The flowers are getting revved up; look for them to really pop in April, spotters say.
Zion Cemetery in Frisco/Little Elm - with a caveat
A perennial favorite bluebonnet spot, it now has "no trespassing" signs. You may have to get creative taking photos from a distance, rather than walking through them.
Just a few hours out of the Metroplex, wildflowers have peaked already by the second week of April, but there are still pretty patches. Here are some places to check out in the Central Texas/Hill Country region.
The bluebonnets are flourishing in this popular Hill Country town (and home to the famous Blue Bonnet Cafe). Look for bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, yuccas, and many other wildflowers to paint landscapes all over the area. Turkey Bend Recreation Area is always a specific hot spot. A old house off SH 281 called, simply, "The Bluebonnet House," is showing up in many picturesque photo shoots already; read about it here. Check out the guide to this year’s fresh patches here. They even have scenic drive recommendations, here.
The blooms are beautiful this year in the "Bluebonnet Capital of Texas." The town's beloved Bluebonnet Festival, April 7-9, includes live music, a carnival, food, races, birding and, of course, looking at flowers. Blooms typically line the highways in this area; some of the best are always State Highway 29 from Burnet to Llano and Ranch Road 2341 from State Highway 29 to Canyon of the Eagles Nature Park, where some of its many miles of trails wind among wildflowers. Another good spot this year is Inks Lake State Park (specifically the Pecan Flats area), which has gorgeous bluebonnets and fragrant mountain laurel.
Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area, Spicewood
One of the hottest spots in all of Texas in spring 2023. The bluebonnet fields at this public park northwest of Austin are more abundant than they have been in years. There usually are large patches of flowers on the riverbank, and it's easy to drive around and park a car to set up and take time for photo shoots (rather than pulling over on the side of the road). Find it at 2820 County Road 414, Spicewood.
For many Texans, Fredericksburg is synonymous with bluebonnets. If you're going there, don't delay. "The 2023 wildflower season is in full bloom. Bluebonnets are at their peak and should be abundant through the first 10 days of April," a report on the Visit Fredericksburg website says. While you'll see the blooms all over the region, a good first stop is always Wildseed Farms, the largest working wildflower farm in the country. Then ask the locals for their favorite flower-viewing spots. They offer a list of places to see them here. The Fredericksburg Bluebonnet Festival will happen April 22. Pro tip: Plan a mid-week F'burg getaway since weekends get mobbed during the spring. While you're in the area, don't miss the ...
Willow City Loop
One of the best drives in Texas is the 13-mile, two-lane Willow City Loop. A lot of people start in Fredericksburg, take State Highway 16 north approximately 13 miles and turn east on Ranch Road 1323 to Willow City. It's reportedly more of a wildflower wonderland this season than it has been the past few. It's a pretty drive, traversing hills and creeks, offering gorgeous views of meadows and valleys. Warning: Roadside property along this route is private, so no wandering into the fields.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin
For some of the most abundant and accessible wildflowers in the state, head to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, roughly 12 miles southwest of downtown Austin. Open daily by reservation, the center has native gardens, wild meadows, and experts who can tell you what you’re looking at. They also host special events (in-person and virtual) and offer various resources on plants and flowers around Texas. They offer a wildflower report and ideas for bluebonnet excursions here.
Down toward Houston, fields have been bursting with color in March, reports say. Don't wait to much longer to visit or they'll be past their prime. "Bluebonnets are HERE at peak and looking gorgeous! We anticipate they will look vibrant for the next 1-2 weeks," Visit Brenham posted on March 29.
Brenham/Chappell Hill/Industry, Washington County
Halfway between Austin and Houston, Brenham is a town that prides itself on its wildflowers (and on being the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream). Using "Flower Watch," visitors can check in almost daily on the Visit Brenham website to see what is blooming. Spotters rave about a field of bluebonnets behind a Walmart store.
Washington County as a whole thrives with bluebonnets. Prime viewing spots typically are along Highway 290 east and west as you drive into Brenham; FM 1155 to 2679 in Chappell Hill; and FM 2447 and Highway 290 at First Baptist Church of Chappell Hill (the church typically welcomes visitors, but requests that the parking lot remain open to members of its congregation).
Also between Houston and Austin, Lake Somerville State Park typically has fields of photo-worthy bluebonnets. The nearby towns of LaGrange and Ellinger do, as well; a scenic drive on Highway 71 in the area will bring some colorful stops, spotters say. FM 1291 from Frelsburg through Fayetteville to LaGrange has photo-worthy fields.
One of the hottest spots in Texas has both bluebonnets and zebras - yes, zebras. About 80 miles east of Austin and 90 miles from Houston is a field where zebra roam, along with cows. Occasionally, they'll graze among the bluebonnets and up to the fence line, photographers say. The address is 5411 TX-159, Fayetteville (between Industry and Fayetteville).
2023 bluebonnet festivals
- Burnet Bluebonnet Festival: April 7-9, Burnet
- Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival: April 14-16, Ennis
- Chappell Hill Bluebonnet Festival: April 15-16, Chappell Hill
- Fredericksburg Bluebonnet Festival: April 22, Fredericksburg
Resources to keep up with wildflower season
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center regularly updates information about the season on their website and social media channels. Here is a handy chart of some common Texas native plants and when they bloom in Central Texas.
- Texas Bluebonnets and Wildflowers is a public Facebook group in which members regularly post updates about what they're seeing around the state.
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Flickr page and social media accounts usually get populated with wildflower sightings from state parks and wildlife management areas.
- The iNaturalist app will allow you to see what’s in bloom in different regions.
Rules of the road
- Remember that while it isn’t illegal to pick the blooms, it is bad form. Leave them for others to enjoy and so the flowers can go to seed and make more for next year.
- By the same token, minimize trampling of the plants, as crushing them repeatedly (by, say, sitting on them) can destroy the flowers. Try to walk in other people's footprints in a field.
- Be aware that fields can also contain fire ants and the occasional snake. Be careful if walking through grass where it’s not possible to see where you’re stepping.
- Pulling over on the side of a highway for photos is never recommended. Find a nearby parking lot.
- Also, remember the "groups" rule. If you approach a pretty patch and another family is taking photos, ride on by.
- Finally, be respectful of private property — no climbing fences, going through gates, or driving up driveways to get that photo. You might get a less-than-warm welcome.
Got a great bluebonnet spot? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.