Best Route for Texas Wildflowers (With Photo Identification Guide)
Why Drive to See Texas Wildflowers?
Wildflowers in Texas are spectacular. Spring is a season of fantastically colorful displays; wherever you go on a drive, you are likely to see lovely Bluebonnets, orange Indian Paintbrush, pink Evening Primrose, and Yellow Composite Daisies.
Over the past 25 years of living in Texas, we've enjoyed the annual displays of the flowers planted along the roadsides, a brainchild of Ladybird Johnson, who sought to save money in mowing and protect the natural habitats as well as create a beautiful Spring and Summer display.
Willow City Loop Wildflowers
One of the best places to view Texas wildflowers is the 13 mile Willow City Loop which goes past hills, creeks, and meadows filled with stunning blankets of flowers of all colors. None of my photos does justice to the site and the sheer number of beautiful displays in all directions.
You'll find the loop off of Highway 16 between Fredericksburg and Llano. The loop starts and ends at Highway 16 and is on the left as you come south on Highway 16 from Llano. Going north from Fredericksburg, you will see it as Farm Road 1323 off of Highway 16 on the right. It is not marked, so you will have to look carefully, but you may see many cars and even some motorcycle groups (the "driving for a look at wildflowers" type of motorcycle groups) heading off in that direction.
Texas Wildflower IdentificationClick thumbnail to view full-size
Best Wildflower Drive
Every year, our family goes out on a wildflower drive and we were anticipating this year's road trip down to San Antonio since we knew that good rains would probably bring out a great display. My husband had checked the wildflower websites to see where to go, but we stumbled upon a wildflower display which went far beyond anything we'd ever seen before in our lives.
We would have missed the Loop if we hadn't been helped by a local lady. Texans are famously helpful and friendly, so don't hesitate to ask if you aren't sure of the way. My husband is a biologist and he wanted to see some of the small flowers up close. So we turned off at Farm Road 1323 just to park by the road and have a look.
A very nice local lady in a large red Suburban asked us if we were looking for "the Loop." We asked her what that was. She said it was a wildflower drive. Uncertain we wanted to veer off the highway because we did have a long drive ahead of us on the way home, we weren't sure if we should take it.
If you take a look at the photos in this article, I think you'll understand why we weren't disappointed! Do you have another favorite wildflower drive? I'd love to have you tell us where to go in the comments!
Video of Texas Wildflowers
When to Go?
Every year is different depending on the temperatures and rain; however, most years the best display is the end of March to the beginning of April. Early morning is less busy, but sunset is also a magnificent time to go, especially on a nice day. Even outside of the wildflower season, you might enjoy this trip just to see a typical Texas countryside. Plan on about an hour to leisurely go the entire route.
Although the flowers are usually the main attraction, you should also take time to notice all of the native live oak, pecan, and mesquite trees. You can also see a variety of Hill Country geology such as granite, red sand, cliff, and valleys. My family also enjoyed the additional decorations added by some of the private owners, such as cowboy and cowgirl books on fence posts, or old farm equipment.
Along with seeing cattle, you might even see some wildlife like deer, squirrels, vultures, and wild turkeys along with many bird species that can be migrating through the area in spring.
More Texas Wildflower Information
Which Texas Wildflower is your favorite?
Highway 16 between Llano and Fredericksburg
© 2012 Virginia Kearney