Missouri’s Devils Backbone Wilderness for picnics: Dogwood, redbud and serviceberry trees burst with colorful flowers in spring. This isn’t surprising as there are three springs, one of which produces an average of seven million gallons of water a day alone. These waters run into the North Fork White River, which visitors can launch their canoe into at the neighboring North Fork Recreation Area. Fishing, camping and picnicking are also delights to be enjoyed here in spring.
Oregon’s Spring Basin Wilderness for wildflower hunting. As its name suggests, spring is the best time to visit this wilderness. While stunning views and amazing wildlife are here year-round, only in spring can visitors spy a plethora of desert wildflowers. Green hills boast pink phlox blooms and magenta flowers on cacti from late April to mid-May. In addition to gorgeous plants, Spring Basin provides habitat for animals like bobcats, coyotes, cougars, golden eagles and red-tailed hawks. Hiking, horseback riding and hunting are other reasons why wilderness lovers enjoy this destination.
Colorado’s Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness for hiking. Waterfalls and swimming pools are part of the blessings of spring runoff in Black Ridge. This wilderness has the second largest concentration of natural arches in the world, so its hikes are incomparable. Located inside Colorado National Monument, Black Ridge’s red rock canyons and cliffs offer easy to challenging hikes. Lucky visitors may also spy golden or bald eagles soaring overhead. This is where Wilderness Volunteers will be taking an alternative spring break this year to improve this amazing landscape.
Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for ice fishing. While this popular wilderness is well-visited year-round, that is good reason to consider a pre-season tour. Not only will there be less people, making for a quieter escape, but there will also be less pesky mosquitos. Early spring will likely still be icy, so you could enjoy the joys of winter here, including dog-sledding, snowshoeing and ice-fishing. Ice melts away between mid-April and mid-May, giving way to canoeing, hiking and wildflower hunting. Because of this unpredictability, permits are also free before May 1st.
Arizona’s Sycamore Canyon Wilderness for wilderness vistas. Winding for over 20 miles along Sycamore Creek, this is one of Arizona’smost spectacular canyons with layered walls of red sandstone, white limestone and brown lava. The creek supports habitat for ring-tailed cats, black bears, mountain lions, canyon wrens and rattlesnakes. The 11-mile Sycamore Rim Trail Loop offers stunning views. Summers can be unbearably hot, so spring is ideal, but be sure to bring plenty of water regardless of when you visit.
Washington’s Boulder River Wilderness for waterfalls. Although Boulder River Wilderness rests in the North Cascades of Washington state, its lower elevation means the likelihood of snow in spring is diminished and waterfalls will likely be bursting with seasonal rains. The Boulder River Trail is one of manythat winds through the virgin Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Narrow spires known as Three Fingers sprout up in the center, and wildlife such as black bears, deer, elk and mountain goats roam its lands.
California’s Beauty Mountain Wilderness for wildlife viewing. Beauty Mountain Wilderness encompasses the rugged slopes of Beauty Mountain, a gigantic plateau and deep canyons. In addition to stunning geographic features, its Million Dollar Spring is considered one of the most immaculate watersheds in southwestern California. In this fast-growing region, this spacious wild land offers spring visitors the chance to witness unique wildlife, including the endangered California gnatchater and Quino checkerspot butterfly.
Written by: Sara Khan