Best spots for bluebonnets in the Hill Country and around Texas this spring
A lack of showers brings sluggish spring flowers. And due to drought conditions in fall, winter, and spring, our beloved Texas bluebonnets and other wildflowers have gotten a slow start across much of Texas in 2022, experts say.
Bluebonnet season typically runs from late March to early May, but timing and bounty actually depend on temperature and rainfall starting many months before. And generally, the southern part of the state blooms earlier than the north. So, Dallas usually peaks two weeks later than Austin, which is two weeks later than Houston. As of early April, spotters say, the bluebonnets are quite abundant in the Houston and Brenham areas. The typically gorgeous Hill Country's been lackluster so far, but there are still blooms to be seen.
Following are some areas around Texas where folks have reported bluebonnets already (as of the first week of April), or where they're looking reliable again 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 blooming. 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.
Austin and the Hill Country
Due to drought conditions in Central Texas, flowers reportedly have been sparse so far. They're more vibrant east of Interstate 35 than west, spotters say.
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. Besides bluebonnets, look for spiderworts, wild onions, phlox, and blanket flowers, they say.
McKinney Falls State Park near the Austin airport has colorful bluebonnets near the upper falls parking lot, spotters say. There are thriving fields east of the city limits also. Try Route 71 to the Toll Road 130, east of Austin. Take exit 444 near the Tesla plant for some pretty blooms.
The bluebonnets are blooming as of early April 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. Check out the guide to this year’s fresh patches here.
Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area, Spicewood
The bluebonnet fields are pretty right now at this public park northwest of Austin. 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.
The blooms are reportedly sluggish so far in the "Bluebonnet Capital of Texas." The town's beloved Bluebonnet Festival, April 9-10, 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.
For many Texans, Fredericksburg is synonymous with bluebonnets. First stop should be Wildseed Farms, the largest working wildflower farm in the country. Then ask the locals for their favorite flower-viewing spots. While bluebonnets can be seen blooming in yards across Fredericksburg "the 2022 wildflower season is trending to be average due to a lack of moisture in February and March," the Visit Fredericksburg website says. They offer a list of places to see them here. The Fredericksburg Bluebonnet Festival will happen April 16. 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 not a wildflower wonderland this season, but, it's still 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.
San Antonio is not getting great reports in general, but spotters point to a field at Rolling Oaks Mall and one near IKEA in Live Oak.
Houston and Southeast Texas
The Houston area was the first to see bluebonnets this year, as usual. Folks from Northeast Houston, south to League City, are reporting pretty fields, and thick patches can be found along a drive on I-45 north of the city. Typically, Wortham Park is a hot spot. Further out, the Fannin Monument and other areas around Goliad have been popular for photos.
Terry Hershey Park, in Memorial, has full fields seen from the hike and bike trail.
The town in Grimes County, north of Houston, reportedly has some abundant fields. One of the most photographed is near Salem Lutheran Church. Also, try William Penn Road off SH 105, about 10 miles west of Navasota.
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 are raving about a field of bluebonnets behind a Walmart store, but warn that they might be past their prime by mid-April.
Washington County as a whole is thriving this year. Prime viewing spots 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).
Bellville, Austin County
One county over from Washington, this area between Houston and Austin is thriving in early April. Try Route 159 from Bellville to Industry for pretty fields.
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.
Dallas-Fort Worth and North Texas
Ennis Bluebonnet Trails, running April 1-30, wind visitors through 40 miles of picturesque wildflowers. While the "Official Bluebonnet Trail of Texas" is open, the blooms aren't peaking yet. That'll happen around mid-April, they say. It usually coincides with the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival, taking place April 8-10 this year (a week earlier due to Easter the following weekend). The first week of April, the best blooms are on Sugar Ridge Road, spotters say. Those interested in making the trek about 40 miles south of Dallas 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.
Cedar Hill State Parkstarted dropping wildflower updates in social media posts in late March, especially along mountain bike trails. In addition to bluebonnets right now, you'll see (and smell) fragrant Wild Mexican Plum trees, with more varieties on the way this month.
Fort Worth Botanic Garden/BRIT started seeing bluebonnets peek out in the parking lot in late March. Now they're in full bloom near the Pollinator Pathway and in front of the BRIT building. The Rock Springs area is usually a good bluebonnet spot. Other colorful spring blooms to see right now: Texas mountain laurel, peach trees, crabapples, Redbuds, and Dogwood. Cherry blossoms will be here in a few days. Keep up with what's flourishing in the gardens via their Facebook page.
Plano's Bluebonnet Trail Greenbelt is popping with blooms. 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.
The Native Texas Park, a 15-acre urban park on the grounds of George W. Bush Presidential Library at SMU, features a one-mile network of trails that walks visitors through native Texas environments, including spring wildflowers. As of early April, it was still looking a tad early for bluebonnets, and there were only a few other wildflower blooms popping up. More are expected later this month. Download a guide to the flowers here.
Pretty patches also pop up north of Dallas proper. One favorite is near the J.C. Penney headquarters on Legacy Drive; another is around Zion Cemetery in Frisco/Little Elm. Watch out for privacy fences and "No trespassing signs," though — you may have to get creative taking photos from a distance.
Many Dallas parks have "no mow" wildflower areas, where colorful flowers dot pathways and fill fields in spring. According to the Dallas Park & Recreation website, parks with wildflower areas to watch for include: Flagpole Hill, Harry Moss Park, Bachman, Grauwyler, Kessler Parkway, Gateway, and many more.
Richardson parks are also reliably good spots, particularly Fujitsu Field in East Richardson, at the corner of Shiloh and Research roads. Like most places around town, though, reports are "hit or miss" or "not as good as years past."
Freedom Meadow, Frisco
The field at the Warren Sports Complex is a bluebonnet photo hot spot each year. While recent reports say they're sparse, there should be more in the coming days and weeks, they say.
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.
- Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival: April 8-10, Ennis
- Burnet Bluebonnet Festival: April 8-10, Burnet
- Chappell Hill Bluebonnet Festival: April 9-10, Chappell Hill
- Fredericksburg Bluebonnet Festival: April 16, Fredericksburg
Resources to keep up with wildflower season
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Centerregularly updates information about the season on their website and social mediachannels. 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'sFlickr 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.
Got a great bluebonnet spot? Email email@example.com.