Best Route for Texas Wildflowers (With Photo Identification Guide)

Updated on February 28, 2020
VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne has lived in Waco, Texas for over 20 years and loves telling people why they should move here too!

Bluebonnets are the Texas state flower.  They are a Lupinus which grows as a native only in Texas.  Usually blue, they are sometimes mutated into pink or white.  They are biennial and have a big, hard black pebble-sized seed.
Bluebonnets are the Texas state flower. They are a Lupinus which grows as a native only in Texas. Usually blue, they are sometimes mutated into pink or white. They are biennial and have a big, hard black pebble-sized seed. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Motorcyclists on a wildflower drive.Most cars ignored the signs to not get out of vehicles, however, I did not see anyone doing anything more dangerous or damaging than taking pictures.Our family did stop to get out on the roadside to take pictures, and so did most of the passing motorists.  However, we remembered to be respectful of this private propery and stayed within a few feet of the road.Some of the ranchs warned of "roaming livestock" and we did see these cattle crossing the road!Bluebonnets against the mountain scenery.No Tresspassing--the Willow City Loop is through private property so be sure you are respectful.At first I thought these bluebonnets were a pond below us.  Many parts of the Willow City loop have fields of bluebonnets as deep and beautiful as this.
Motorcyclists on a wildflower drive.
Motorcyclists on a wildflower drive. | Source
Most cars ignored the signs to not get out of vehicles, however, I did not see anyone doing anything more dangerous or damaging than taking pictures.
Most cars ignored the signs to not get out of vehicles, however, I did not see anyone doing anything more dangerous or damaging than taking pictures. | Source
Our family did stop to get out on the roadside to take pictures, and so did most of the passing motorists.  However, we remembered to be respectful of this private propery and stayed within a few feet of the road.
Our family did stop to get out on the roadside to take pictures, and so did most of the passing motorists. However, we remembered to be respectful of this private propery and stayed within a few feet of the road. | Source
Some of the ranchs warned of "roaming livestock" and we did see these cattle crossing the road!
Some of the ranchs warned of "roaming livestock" and we did see these cattle crossing the road! | Source
Bluebonnets against the mountain scenery.
Bluebonnets against the mountain scenery. | Source
No Tresspassing--the Willow City Loop is through private property so be sure you are respectful.
No Tresspassing--the Willow City Loop is through private property so be sure you are respectful. | Source
At first I thought these bluebonnets were a pond below us.  Many parts of the Willow City loop have fields of bluebonnets as deep and beautiful as this.
At first I thought these bluebonnets were a pond below us. Many parts of the Willow City loop have fields of bluebonnets as deep and beautiful as this. | Source
Source
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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 Identification

Click thumbnail to view full-size
White Prickly Poppy has sticky, prickly leaves which cattle don't like to eat.  It is also somewhat poisonous.Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja)is the large orange flower which often grows with bluebonnets. It is semiparasidic on grasses and forbs, so you always find it growing in grass.  Indians used it to make a hair wash, and some ate the leaves in salads.Indian Paintbrush with bluebonnets.Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush cascading down the hill  The 13 miles of this loop has hundreds of such gorgeous scenes.Lovely vistas with wildflowers that are probably hundreds or thousands of years old.Wandering through the wildflowers were some beautiful creeks.Close up of White Prickly Poppy.Daisy or yellow composite flower. Daisies  come in lots of sizes and varieties.  They represent 10% of all Texas wildflowers.Winecup.  This is one we saw only towards the end of the loop and tends not to be as abundant.  It looks like a poppy but has a lush purple color. They grow from a tuber which was boiled in tea by Native Americans.White Sweet CloverFleabaneCoreopsisAllium (family of onions)Black foot daisyPink Evening Primrose.Yellow PrimroseIndian blanketTexas Bluebonnets.Winecups along road.White Prickly Poppies were in patches that went on and on.
White Prickly Poppy has sticky, prickly leaves which cattle don't like to eat.  It is also somewhat poisonous.
White Prickly Poppy has sticky, prickly leaves which cattle don't like to eat. It is also somewhat poisonous. | Source
Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja)is the large orange flower which often grows with bluebonnets. It is semiparasidic on grasses and forbs, so you always find it growing in grass.  Indians used it to make a hair wash, and some ate the leaves in salads.
Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja)is the large orange flower which often grows with bluebonnets. It is semiparasidic on grasses and forbs, so you always find it growing in grass. Indians used it to make a hair wash, and some ate the leaves in salads. | Source
Indian Paintbrush with bluebonnets.
Indian Paintbrush with bluebonnets. | Source
Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush cascading down the hill  The 13 miles of this loop has hundreds of such gorgeous scenes.
Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush cascading down the hill The 13 miles of this loop has hundreds of such gorgeous scenes. | Source
Lovely vistas with wildflowers that are probably hundreds or thousands of years old.
Lovely vistas with wildflowers that are probably hundreds or thousands of years old. | Source
Wandering through the wildflowers were some beautiful creeks.
Wandering through the wildflowers were some beautiful creeks. | Source
Close up of White Prickly Poppy.
Close up of White Prickly Poppy. | Source
Daisy or yellow composite flower. Daisies  come in lots of sizes and varieties.  They represent 10% of all Texas wildflowers.
Daisy or yellow composite flower. Daisies come in lots of sizes and varieties. They represent 10% of all Texas wildflowers. | Source
Winecup.  This is one we saw only towards the end of the loop and tends not to be as abundant.  It looks like a poppy but has a lush purple color. They grow from a tuber which was boiled in tea by Native Americans.
Winecup. This is one we saw only towards the end of the loop and tends not to be as abundant. It looks like a poppy but has a lush purple color. They grow from a tuber which was boiled in tea by Native Americans. | Source
White Sweet Clover
White Sweet Clover | Source
Fleabane
Fleabane | Source
Coreopsis
Coreopsis | Source
Allium (family of onions)
Allium (family of onions) | Source
Black foot daisy
Black foot daisy | Source
Pink Evening Primrose.
Pink Evening Primrose. | Source
Yellow Primrose
Yellow Primrose | Source
Indian blanket
Indian blanket | Source
Texas Bluebonnets.
Texas Bluebonnets. | Source
Winecups along road.
Winecups along road. | Source
White Prickly Poppies were in patches that went on and on.
White Prickly Poppies were in patches that went on and on. | Source

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.

Ask Locals!

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

See more pictures and maps below. For more information and identification guides for Texas Wildflowers see:

Which Texas Wildflower is your favorite?

See results

Highway 16 between Llano and Fredericksburg

© 2012 Virginia Kearney

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    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      4 years ago from United States

      Rachel--we found this route completely by accident and were absolutely amazed at the flower display. Pictures really can't show what it looked like. Unfortunately, people were not always respectful of the signs which asked them to stay off the private property areas, but I certainly understand it was hard to resist.

    • profile image

      Rachael Hermelyn 

      4 years ago

      Texas wildflowers are by far one of my favorite things about Texas. It's always nice to enjoy a scenic route around the great state. My mom and dad garden A LOT and would love this drive very much!

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 

      5 years ago

      Bluebonnets can make the hillsides lovely but as for individual flowers I like the paintbrush.

    • jvhirniak profile image

      jvhirniak 

      5 years ago

      on my bucket list of things to do. Nice hub!

    • torichavez profile image

      torichavez 

      7 years ago from Waco, Texas

      These are beautiful photos; I love Texas and its gorgeous flowers. I hope I can eventually dive by the Willow City Loop and admire all these flowers in the spring. I have never traveled along a wildflower drive, but it's definitely something I would love to do soon!

    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thanks Ms Dora for stopping by! So many beautiful places to see wildflowers in this state!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      8 years ago from The Caribbean

      This makes me recall the the view of bluebonnet fields spread out on the route from Houston to Bryan, Texas. I've done that trip several times on an early Sunday morning. Thanks for the memories!

    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much Au fait. I was actually disappointed a bit when I looked through the photos. I was too busy looking at the fantastic views and didn't really have my "photography mindset" in view. I want to add more of a photo guide to Texas wildflowers, so I'm searching through some of my other photos to see if I can add more information. We are North of that area too. You are so right that we are glad to have a great spring this year!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      8 years ago from North Texas

      Gorgeous photos! Our wild flowers are just getting a good start up here, well north of Fredericksburg and Lliano. Just a bit of rain and they would explode into blossom. The domestic flowers are profuse and everything is lush and green despite the lack of rain.

      Spring is the best season in Texas and it's early for a change this year. Hope it lasts a while.

      Voting you UP and beautiful! Sharing with my followers.

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