The most spectacular flower shows in spring are in the open country and pinelands east of the Cascade Crest. They easily equal the floral spectacle that makes a midsummer mountain hike such a delight, although they are surely less appreciated. But they are worthy of the effort it takes for a Puget Sounder to plan a trip east. Starting as early as March in the sagebrush country, the spring flower show slowly moves uphill with the increasing temperatures of spring and reaches its peak in early May in the grasslands at the lower edge of the Cascades.
But to see all the phytodiversity you can imagine, get off the highways. Back roads near Thorp or the Umtanum Road southwest of Ellensburg provide as good a flower show as anyone could desire. Drive slowly or walk out through the habitat. Check out open rocky areas for spectacular pink bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) and Simpson’s hedgehog cactus (Pediocactus simpsonii) flowers and look for the beautiful color scheme of sagebrush violets (Viola trinervata).
And come back about every two weeks to see the turnover, as species after species blooms. You can only hope that there are enough pollinating insects out there to see to the needs of all these sex-starved flowers.