Saturday, March 20, 2010

When is the Best Time to Visit a National Forest or Park?

The answer for most people is when the temperature is in the 70's, with blue skies and puffy white clouds.  Well, keep an eye on the temperature map in USA Today.  The scale on the map makes it difficult to pick the perfect location out west, since temperature here is dependent on elevation.

So how do you find those spots "where the climate suits your clothes".  Particularly, if your goal in life, like mine, is to never wear long pants again.

The answer is always go during the peak of the wildflower season.  If you prefer temperatures in the lower 70's, go a bit before the peak display.  If you like warmer temperatures, go just after the peak.  Now in a place like California, wildflower season starts along the coast in February and ends at 10,000 feet elevation in the high Sierra's sometime in August.  In Washington state, wildflowers start in April in the desert areas of eastern Washington and end high in the Cascades mountains sometime in late July or early August.

Most Forest Service or Park Service employees can tell you the peak of wildflowers in the areas where they work.  It is a much easier question for them to answer than temperature!!  There are even web sites that track peak wildflower displays.  Here is a site for California:  This is BLM's California site:

For the Forest Service the national site is:  You will enjoy  exploring the Forest Service site.  Many of the areas mentioned allow dispersed camping.  So there you go!  From February through August you can easily find that perfect spot, just follow the flowers.  This is what you're looking for.

Now some may say, "Fine.  This gets me to August.  What about the rest of the year?"  Well, same rules apply after August.  But now, pay attention to the fall color change.

Same rules, except now reversed.  If you want warmer temperatures, go just as the colors start to change.  For cooler temperatures, hang around for peak color and after.  Do not wait too long or the dominant color will be white; and you do not want to be there if you are wearing short pants!!  Here is the Forest Service site for following the fall colors: .

This is what you're looking for.

So now we are left with parts of November, December and January, in most cases.   Time to head down under and repeat!!  Enjoy the best of Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.  Sorry, I can't help you with shipping the RV.

The advantage to following the wildflowers and fall colors is temperatures will be comfortable during the day in most of the United States.  Both wildflower and fall color season will also have peak activity for wildlife.  The beautiful scenery of our public lands become spectacular during wildflower and fall color seasons.

1 comment:

mike stewart said...

Thank you for this write up. It seems very useful to me, and I appreciate the time and effort you put into writing your blog. Thank you, again, Mike Stewart