Vibrant wildflowers adorn the the mountains and valleys of Crested Butte for two glorious months. From late June through August, verdant green meadows are dotted with a dazzling array of colors. It’s a veritable kaleidoscope of colors. Swaths of yellow mule’s ears and blue lupines streak the landscape. Brilliant sunny skies transform the flowers into wild stained glass windows for the mountain cathedral. It’s no surprise to learn that Crested Butte claims to be the wildflower capital of Colorado. The wildflowers are so beautiful, you can practically hear the mountains singing their exuberant praise.
The first steps are the most difficult. Before you looms a mixture of marl mud and periphyton algae that resembles vomit. Like soggy cheese puffs, the algae floats on the water’s surface.
Don’t hesitate, just walk in. There’s no other way. You will get muddy and wet. But it is completely worth it to be able to see the interior of Big Cypress National Preserve. Once inside, you’ll quickly forget the mud. A beautiful otherworldly forest rises up from the water before you.
We’ve all been stumped by the folks that seem to have everything they want or need. Or on the opposite spectrum, minimalists can be just as challenging to buy for. What if, instead of a physical gift, you gave them something that was much more rewarding? Research has shown that experiences bring us more happiness than material possessions. I can’t think of a better gift than that of the outdoors, be it a garden or the woods. This year, consider giving an outdoor experience to your loved ones instead of something they’ll soon forget. A membership to a garden or park is a great way to help them enjoy nature year-round.
Deserts contain more than just sand dunes and cacti. Remarkable plant adaptations have resulted in a diverse array of habitats in the high desert of northern New Mexico. Silvery green grasses and shrubs carpet the red hills and dark evergreens punctuate the landscape surrounding Ghost Ranch. Mesas and buttes rise up from the desert floor; their crevices and nooks offering tenacious plants a home. Dark mountain vistas loom in the distance; their wetter slopes home to towering ponderosa pine. A visit to Ghost Ranch is an opportunity to explore and learn about the plants of the high desert.
The vast open prairie and pine flatwoods provide little shade at the Hal Scott Preserve and Park. On a cloudless day, the sun is relentless. Sunscreen is a must. I wouldn’t recommend visiting in the heat of summer. But on a cool winter morning, the sun’s warmth is welcome.
For hours, I walk alone through a never-ending sea of saw palmettos. The sharp leaf segments of the palm fans surround me, their tips catching the sunlight. They glow an intense—almost unnatural—chartreuse.