Where to find bluebonnets and wildflowers in San Antonio while social distancing
Spring has hit full stride in San Antonio, and while we remain under a shelter in place order to contain the spread of COVID-19, the essential activities we’re allowed to leave home for include engaging in outdoor activity. If you spend time outside, perhaps at one of San Antonio's many trails or green spaces, you are required to do so safely.
So, that limits your options. No pickup basketball games or climbing on the playground. One thing you can do is soak up all the beautiful blooming plants around San Antonio right now.
What's in bloom?
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center botanist Andrea DeLong-Amaya says plants that bloom in April include pink evening primrose, wine cups, salvias, and brown-eyed Susans. In May, Texans will start seeing Mexican blanket and horsemint blooms.
If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for or at, find photos of these and other native plants on the center’s Find Plants webpage.
Driving Texas State Highway 16 from Bandera to Ranch Road 337 and then heading west toward Vanderpool and Leakey offers plenty of scenery any time, including glimpses of the Medina River, but in spring, wildflowers sweeten the route. Farm-to-Market Road 470 west from Bandera to Tarpley is another option, as are the roads around Utopia. The 5,000 acres of Hill Country State Natural Area have miles of trails through a variety of landscapes with abundant bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, primroses, firewheels, wild petunias, and more. Note: Currently you must purchase a day pass online in advance to enter all Texas state parks that require a fee.
Known as the Wildflower Capital of Texas, DeWitt County celebrates Wildflower Month in April. Places to enjoy it include a 132-mile loop formed by U.S. Highway 181 from San Antonio to Kenedy, Farm-to-Market Road 792 to Texas State Highway 80 to Nixon, east on U.S. Highway 87 toward Westhoff, then south to U.S. Highway 183/U.S. Highway 77A to Goliad, and the back to Kenedy on Texas State Highway 239 East. More than 1,000 different species have been documented on this route, according to the Wildflower Center. The Cuero Chamber of Commerce provides maps of the area’s wildflower trails.
Goliad State Park and Historic Site
This park, nestled on the banks of the San Antonio River, has several good wildflower spots, including near Cardinal’s Haven Blind, the Longhorn tent camping area, and fields along the road to the Jacales camping area. Expect a slightly different color blend created by Huisache daisies, phlox, coreopsis, and rose prickly poppies. Drive south on U.S. Highway 183 and cross the San Antonio River to see fields of flowers in front of historic Presidio la Bahia (which is currently closed due to COVID-19).
Guadalupe River State Park
Four miles of river frontage and 13 miles of hike-and-bike trails are reason enough to visit this park just outside of San Antonio. Spring wildflowers are an added attraction in the Edwards Plateau landscape of its uplands.
Blanco State Park is currently closed to day use through April 30. Government Canyon State Natural Area is closed until further notice.
Before you head out on a country drive, remember we are living in a world without pit stops at roadside Whataburgers. Plan snacks, drinks, and potential restroom situations accordingly.
Also, remember the "groups" rule. If you approach a pretty patch and another family is taking photos, ride on by.
Some regular guidelines to keep in mind, too: Don't trespass on private property. Don't pick the flowers. Step gently so you don't squish them, and don't leave anything behind. Also, beware of snakes, fire ants, and other critters that might be hiding among the flowers.
Wildflowers from the comfort of your couch
Can’t get outside? Enjoy a virtual tour of what’s blooming around the state on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Flickr page, populated with wildflower sightings from state parks and wildlife management areas, or its Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, where anyone can share photos of the great outdoors.
The Wildflower Center also posts sightings on a curated Instagram account, @texaswildflowerwatch (#txwildflowers2020) and has a narrated virtual tour of the Center. Let nature provide us all a little solace in these strange times.