The bluebonnet fields are beginning to bloom again in Texas! It’s time for people from all over to come out, take family photos and celebrate country living. But why go to just one of the gorgeous towns on the bluebonnet tour when there are so many to see? Whether you’re traveling through Texas, or just interested in experiencing the picturesque scenery, here is a glimpse into a few of our favorite stops on a Texas roadmap that you won’t soon forget.
Located just outside of Llano, the quaint town of Kingsland isn’t accustomed to a lot of visitors — making it a great choice for the bluebonnet tour. Explore Kingsland’s many bluebonnet hot spots, including abandoned machinery and railroad tracks that have been taken over by the bluebonnets.
Marble Falls has incredibly gorgeous scenery, including lakes, hills and rivers. Visit Marble Falls to explore the town and watch as the brilliant bluebonnets grow and coat it. Plus, it’s right next to Kingsland and Burnet, which creates a great trio of places if you’re short on time.
The city of Burnet is officially recognized by the Texas legislature as the “Bluebonnet Capital of Texas”. Not only are the bluebonnets strewn across the hills and pastures, but Burnet also has a large bluebonnet festival during the second weekend of April. 300,000 people attend every year, making it a destination worth visiting.
If you need a rest stop, Brenham is it. Brenham has a number of places to stay, places to eat and endless fields that are filled with bluebonnets. In addition to having photo opportunities, it also has a number of safe places to park. This isn’t always true when chasing photo ops, so definitely take advantage.
The Ennis Garden Club usually starts its pursuit of bluebonnets in April, sharing the flower growth information with the Ennis Convention Center. Consider making this one of your major stops as the entire town loves bluebonnets and celebrates their mapped, bluebonnet driving trails.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Austin)
Named after the former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, this wildflower park and research center
is home to nearly 900 species of native Texas plants. With a variety of trails that gently loop through both meadows and gardens alike, you can spend an entire day casually exploring the scenery or even book guided tours. They host a number of educational programs for adults and children that teach the importance of conservation and cultivate an appreciation for the natural beauty Texas has to offer.
It goes without saying that Texas' state flower blooms in abundance here during the spring months, making it a perfect spot for a day full of bluebonnet gazing with the family.
Big Bend National Park
While our last destination is off of the traditional Texas bluebonnet trail, it is well worth the trip if you're looking for a unique and enchanting bluebonnet experience.
In 2019, something spectacular happened amidst the rocky landscape of Big Bend National Park. The previous October brought abnormal amounts of rain to the West Texas park, which gave way to a rare bluebonnet "super bloom."
All across the 800,000-acre park, the barren fields sprang to life with these beautiful flowers, painting the red landscape a brilliant shade of blue. If you're fond of camping, hiking, and breathtaking bluebonnet views, Big Bend is a must-see destination.
Often reaching heights of up to 3 feet, the Big Bend Bluebonnet (Lupinus havardii)
is thinner and taller than its cousins in the state's interior. While, we may not see another super bloom for some time, you can find these gorgeous flowers blooming throughout the spring.
A few facts about Texas bluebonnets
The Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) has been the state flower of Texas since 1901 and holds a special place in any Texan's heart. They are hardy and rugged, yet beautiful flowers that blanket roadsides, pastures, and meadows across the state every spring.
Bluebonnets begin their lives as small, gravel-like seeds that can lay dormant for months and sometimes years before seedlings emerge. They usually sprout in October and grow slowly through the winter before rapidly growing and blossoming in the spring. They are well adapted to the unpredictable Texas winters and hold up well to frost and freezing.
As their name suggests, bluebonnets are almost always blue. However, if you've ever seen them in shades of white, pink, or even maroon (which are known as 'Texas Maroon' or 'Alamo Fire' bluebonnets), you know that they can come in a variety of colors. This is due to slight genetic variations that can occur, which usually don't last for long in the wild. So if you spot one, consider yourself lucky!
While the term "bluebonnet" can refer to many different species of flowers across the Southwest, there are three subspecies that we consider the "Texas State Flower": the titular Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis), the sandyland bluebonnet (Lupinus subcarnosus), and the Big Bend bluebonnet (Lupinus havardii).
Aside from being beautiful flowers with a lovely scent, bluebonnets are an important part of the Texas ecosystem. They enrich soil by "fixing nitrogen," which means they take nitrogen out of the air and convert it into a plant-friendly form. Their vibrant flowers aren't just attractive to us humans - they're irresistible to many species of pollinators which help ensure future generations of many plant species.
Is it illegal to pick bluebonnets in Texas?
You may have heard the rumor that it is illegal to pick bluebonnets in Texas. The truth is, it's a little more complicated than that. While it isn't technically illegal to pick bluebonnets
, wandering onto private property to do so is. On public property, you may not be breaking any laws by picking a bluebonnet, but wildflower experts ask that you refrain from doing so.
Picking one or two flowers may not be too damaging, but if everyone did the same, we could actually disrupt their lifecycle in certain areas and leave large bald patches in an otherwise beautiful field. Bluebonnets are for all Texans to enjoy, so it's important to leave them undisturbed.
If you'd like to make a beautiful bouquet of bluebonnets and other wildflowers, consider growing them in your garden
Bluebonnet safety precautions
Many of the areas you will travel to in pursuit of bluebonnets can be very rural. Always follow safety precautions and be careful when leaving the road. Find a safe place to park and obey any posted signs. DO NOT trespass and only venture onto private property if you have the owner's permission.
Bluebonnet fields may be beautiful on the surface, but can be potentially dangerous below. Because these flowery fields can be so dense, they often provide shelter to animals like snakes
. Be cautious when moving around and through these areas, especially if you plan on crouching or sitting for a photo.
Our Texas State Flower is beautiful, but can be deadly. That's right, bluebonnets are actually toxic to both humans and animals when ingested. This is yet another good reason to avoid picking these flowers! If you're exploring the bluebonnet trail with children or pets, make sure to keep an eye on them.
Finally, never travel alone off the beaten path. Take a travel buddy with you or at the very least, make sure someone knows where you are and when you plan to return.
Hit the bluebonnet trail!
Bluebonnet season is one of the most exciting, beautiful and scenic experiences of spring in Texas. You can become a part of this incredible tradition by planning your road trip today! And remember, as tempting as it may be, don’t pick the wildflowers. Take photos, not flowers!
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This blog was originally written by Meagan McElya. It has been updated for content.