Bend Oregon Wildflower Photos!

Let me start this seasonal update by noting that I Love wildflowers.  I mean I really love them.  I seek them out every year and I do extensive planning around the timing of the peak blooms of different wildflower locations in the Bend, Oregon area.  Yesterday, I drove to Central Oregon’s beautiful Smith Rock State Park and I saw some of the first wildflowers of the season.  While the flowers were far from overwhelming, they did get me excited for wildflower season, which made me think about the wildflowers in the Bend Oregon area.  Smith Rock  is one of the first places in the Bend area to begin bursting with spring color but there are countless other areas of wildflower beauty.

Smith Rock Wildflowers

Smith Rock Wildflowers

The sulfur flowers in the above image from Smith Rock State Park are subtle yet they have a subdued beauty, like many of the wildflowers in the high desert.  Currently you can find the first few blasamroot starting to pop at Smith Rock as well as desert phlox, fiddleneck and even a few Indian Paintbrush.  Another early desert flower can be found along the Alder Springs Trail near sisters Oregon.  It is the delicate yet beautiful Bitterroot.  The Bitterroot is a classic western flower, often found on dry mesas and only in early spring.

Bitterroot Blossoms

Bitterroot Blossoms

Another classic spring Beauty that can be found in the alder Springs area is the Balsamroot which can be seen with an amazing backdrop of lichen covered basalt columns.

Balsamroot and Basalt Columns

Balsamroot and Basalt Columns

The Bend Oregon area has lots of attractive stands of balsamroot like the one seen above and most of them are located near waterways such as the Deschutes River, the Crooked River and and Whychus Creek.  Slightly later in the wildflower season, Bend’s beautiful Tumalo Falls starts to glow with small stands of wildflowers.  Incidentally, This image was selected by the Sierra club to be featured in their engagement calendar.  While the penstemmon and Indian Paintbrush aren’t crowded into the Tumalo Creek basin, their are nice pockets of them and the falls are located a mere 10 miles from Bend, Oregon.

Bend, Oregon, Tumalo Falls

Bend, Oregon, Tumalo Falls

Another relatively early blooming location is the Cascade lakes highway, located south of Bend.  There are many lakes along the Cascade lakes Highway and two of my favorites are Hosmer Lake and the more well known Sparks Lake.  Hosmer is further south and at slightly lower elevation, so wildflowers bloom a bit earlier at Hosmer Lake than they do at Sparks lake.  while there are countless wildflowers at both lakes, my personal favorite wildflowers are the Mountain Heather at Hosmer Lake and the wild columbine at Sparks Lake.  Below is an image (which makes an elegant print!) of Hosmer Lake with a backdrop of Bend Oregon’s own Mt. Bachelor.

Hosmer Lake, Mountain Heather

Central Oregon's Hosmer Lake

Incidentally, I recently released a beautiful poster of Mt. Bachelor in winter and it is for sale if you visit this link, Mt. Bachelor Poster.

Sparks Lake is approximately 25 miles from my hometown of Bend and it is one of those places that is blessed with a stunning natural composition.  It is hard to take a bad picture at Sparks Lake!  Below is the beautiful south sister mirrored in the glassy waters of Sparks Lake, with an adornment of columbine .  Windless mornings like this are rare along the Cascade Lakes Highway and even more rare is a windless morning at Sparks Lake when a bald eagle lands in the tallest tree in your composition!  If you look very closely at this Sparks Lake print, there is indeed an eagle perched at the top of the tallest tree in the print!

Wild Columbine along the shores of Sparks lake

Sparks Lake Wildflowers

Moving away from Hosmer Lake and Sparks Lake and the Cascade Lakes Highway and into the desert we will find one of my favorite Central Oregon wildflowers, the delicate Mariposa Lily.  Mariposa Lilies are very short lived and require very specific conditions in order to bloom.  They can be found in many desert areas in the Bend, Oregon area but in some years, they don’t bloom at all.  This amazing group of lilies was captured on a friends property in an undeveloped area of Bend.  It is rare to find one Mariposa Lily and exceedingly rare to find an arrangement like you see in this print.

Mariposa Lilies

Mariposa Lilies

The Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area is one of the next wildflower filled destinations to bloom in typical years.  It is filled with wildflower viewing opportunities and multiple trail heads to choose from on both the east and west side of the Oregon Cascades.  A few of my favorite trail heads are Jack Lake, Carl Lake, Whitewater, and Breitenbush.  One of the more accessible alpine meadows in the Central Oregon area is Canyon Creek Meadow which on select years is filled with a see of purple lupine, like you see in the image below.  This amazing wildflower meadow is backed by the Rugged Three Fingered Jack.

Canyon Creek Meadow and Three Fingered Jack

Canyon Creek Meadow and Three Fingered Jack

Another favorite wildflower location in the Bend area is the amazing Mt. Jefferson.  There are many worthy wildflower destinations in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area and one of those is Jefferson Park.  Although Jefferson Park requires some effort to reach, it is well worth the sweat.  Approximately 6 miles from the Whitewater trail head is the alpine eden of Jefferson Park.  There is tremendous variation in wildflower quality from year to year at Jefferson Park but every year is beautiful.  One of the most amazing wildflowers meadows I’ve ever seen is in the picture below.  I simply refer to it as Mt. Jefferson Wilderness and it typifies how I recall Jefferson Park and the entire Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area.

Mt Jefferson Wilderness

Mt Jefferson Wilderness

Another favorite Bend Oregon area wildflower hike is the Broken Top Trail Hike.  Located off of the Cascade Lakes Highway, the Broken Top Trail requires a rugged drive up the rocky and rutted forest service road #370.  Typically, the 370 road is not open until late in the summer due to winter damage and heavy snowfall in the area.  Regardless of the requisite effort, it is worth it!  Below is another image of Bend’s beautiful Mt.Bachelor with a lush wildflower meadow, located above the Broken Top Trail.

Mt Bachelor in Summer

Mt Bachelor in Summer

There are many beautiful wildflower meadows located along the Broken Top Trail.  On of my favorite views of Broken Top is seen from the Broken Top Trail.

Broken Top

Broken Top Sunrise

This image of Broken Top was captured on a stunning, still morning after countless days of scouting.  Rugged yet placid, it is an excellent representation of Broken Top and this amazing area of the Oregon Cascades.  Technically, Broken Top is located within the Three Sisters Wilderness but Broken Top has a very different feel than the Western part of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area.  Below is another image of Broken Top, taken from a different spur of the Broken Top Trail.

Broken Top Trail

Broken Top Trail

The Western side of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area is very different than the eastern side.  The Western side receives much more precipitation and has more lush meadow areas.  Below is one of my favorite wildflower meadows in the western half of the three Sisters Wilderness Area, located near the Obsidian trail head.  I discovered this particular meadow in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area while backpacking with several friends.  It was was sprinkled with hundreds of thousands of wildflowers. One of the more amazing sites I’ve seen in Oregon!

Three Sisters Wilderness

Three Sisters Wilderness

All of these Bend area wildflower photos are available as fine art prints and all of them were captured with the large format 4×5 film camera that I use to capture all of my fine art prints.  For more information about my work, please browse through this site and if you are interested in purchasing a print, please do not hesitate to call me at 541-610-4815.

Thanks for visiting,

Mike Putnam

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