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Snow on the mountains, flowers on the trails

Story and photos by Katie Alvin Explore Big Sky Contributor

Every season is spectacular in Big Sky, but spring and summer bring an ostentatious display of wildflowers. The colors, shapes and sizes of each flower are so wildly variable that taking time to notice individual species can be a great way to spend a day.

Commit to taking photos of each wildflower while you’re out hiking, and you’ll discover just how many varieties there are. Taking a wildflower walk is a great way to slow down and become more connected to your environment.

Living in the mountains has many perks, but for wildflower watchers, one is the diverse range of elevation across the landscape. This means that many wildflower species will bloom at different times, at different elevations. For instance, if you miss out on glacier lilies blooming around the Big Sky Meadow, you can seek them out later in the season by looking for the same habitat at a higher elevation – like Beehive Basin.

This gallery showcases a few of the most common flowering plants on display around Big Sky right now, and a couple rare ones to hunt for. For a more extensive gallery of photos, check out eastslopeoutdoors.com/wildflowers.

And remember: you aren’t the only one that appreciates wildflowers, so leave them where you found them and take only pictures!

Lupine (Lupins argenteus): Common in dry, open meadows, the first lupine ever described was collected by Meriwether Lewis in the Upper Blackfoot River drainage.

Lupine (Lupins argenteus): Common in dry, open meadows, the first lupine ever described was collected by Meriwether Lewis in the Upper Blackfoot River drainage.

Shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia): Common in full sun meadows early in the season, its blossom smells like Dr. Pepper!

Shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia): Common in full sun meadows early in the season, its blossom smells like Dr. Pepper!

Glacier lily (Erythonium grandiflorium): An early season favorite, the glacier lily is commonly found in moist and/or shady habitats at all elevations. Its flower and seedpod are edible and favored by bears.

Glacier lily (Erythonium grandiflorium): An early season favorite, the glacier lily is commonly found in moist and/or shady habitats at all elevations. Its flower and seedpod are edible and favored by bears.

LEFT: Fairy slipper orchid (Calypso bulbosa): Many orchids are rare and this one is no exception. Never pick one of these flowers, just take photos and consider yourself lucky to see a Fairy Slipper in the wild. RIGHT: Spotted frittilary (Frittilaria atropurpurea): This uncommon lily has nodding blooms that are a nondescript brown from above, so you’re fortunate if you actually find one!

LEFT: Fairy slipper orchid (Calypso bulbosa): Many orchids are rare and this one is no exception. Never pick one of these flowers, just take photos and consider yourself lucky to see a Fairy Slipper in the wild. RIGHT: Spotted frittilary (Frittilaria atropurpurea): This uncommon lily has nodding blooms that are a nondescript brown from above, so you’re fortunate if you actually find one!

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