• Photo of park visitors enjoying sunset from the Alpine Ridge Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.

    Rocky Mountain

    National Park Colorado

There are park alerts in effect.
hide Alerts »
  • Impacts from September 2013 Flood - Old Fall River Road, Alluvial Fan and Trails

    Select this link to learn More »

Pink & Red Wildflowers

 
Photo of Spotted Coralroot

Spotted Coralroot

NPS photo

Spotted Coralroot

Scientific name: Corallorhiza maculata

Family: Orchid family (Orchidaceae)

Habitat: Montane and lower subalpine forests

Lacking chlorophyll, spotted coralroots are unable to photosynthesize. The roots form relationships with soil fungi to obtain nutrients from underground plant material. The flowers are reddish brown with a white lip spotted with magenta. Spotted coralroot blooms from mid June to early August.

 
Photo of Fairyslipper

Fairyslipper

NPS photo

Fairyslipper

Scientific name: Calypso bulbosa

Family: Orchid family (Orchidaceae)

Habitat: Moist montane coniferous forests

Each stem bears a single slipper shaped flower. The petals and petal-like sepals are bright rose-purple; one petal forms a saclike lip, which is whitish with purple stripes and a bright yellow patch . This rare plant blooms in late spring.

 
Photo of Fremont Geranium

Fremont Geranium

NPS photo by L. Benton

Fremont Geranium

Scientific name: Geranium caespitosum

Family: Geranium family (Geraniaceae)

Habitat: Dry montane forests and meadows

The petals are pink to lavender with dark purple veins. The veins serve as "runway lights" to direct pollinating insects to the center of the flower. The petals and sepals can be sticky. This common geranium may be seen from mid May to late August.

 
Photo of Mountain Ball Cactus

Mountain Ball Cactus

NPS photo by R. Smith

Mountain Ball Cactus

Scientific name: Pediocactus simpsonii var. minor

Family: Cactus family (Cactaceae)

Habitat: Dry montane slopes

This pincushion shaped cactus is covered with spirally arranged bumps that bear rigid spines. One to several brilliant rose purple flowers bloom in the center of the cactus. Mountain ball cactus may bloom from mid April to mid June.

 
Photo of Shooting star

Shooting Star

NPS photo

Shooting Star

Scientific name: Dodecatheon pulchellum

Family: Primrose family (Primulaceae)

Habitat: Wet areas from montane to alpine .

The bright pink to lavender flowers have backward folded petals and black anthers that form a protruding cone. Since there is no landing platform for insects, a bee must cling to the cone and flap its wings causing pollen to shower the bee. Shooting stars bloom in early June at lower elevations through late July in higher sites.

 
Photo of Western Scarlet Gilia

Western Scarlet Gilia

NPS photo by L. Benton

Western Scarlet Gilia

Scientific name: Ipomopsis aggregata ssp aggregata

Family: Phlox family (Polemoniaceae)

Habitat: Dry open montane slopes

The trumpet shaped flowers have scarlet to salmon colored petals. Each stalk will have several to many flowers in loose, elongated clusters. Look for this flower between mid June and late August near the park's east and west entrances.

 
Photo of Common Fireweed

Common Fireweed

NPS photo by A. Schonlau

Common Fireweed

Scientific name: Chamerion danielsii

Family: Evening-primrose family (Onagraceae)

Habitat: Montane and subalpine woods, meadows, and disturbed and burned areas

Fireweed blooms from July to September with bright pink flowers. The flowers have four petals and are arranged in an elongated raceme. The plant can grow to 4 ft. in height. Fireweed gets its name not from its firey color, but because it is one of the first plants to colonize after a wildfire.

 
Photo of Elephantella

Elephantella plant and single flower resembling an elephant

NPS photo by D. Pinigis

Elephantella

Scientific name: Pedicularis groenlandica

Family: Snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae)

Habitat: Wet, marshy areas from montane to alpine

Elephantella forms masses of bright pink color in wet areas from June to mid-August. Each flower resembles a miniature elephant head with two ear flaps and an upturned trunk. When an insect lands on the trunk, a spring like mechanism causes the stamens to shoot out and slap the insect with pollen.

 
Photo of Rosy Paintbrush

Rosy Paintbrush

NPS photo by A. Schonlau

Rosy Paintbrush

Scientific name: Castilleja rhexifolia

Family: Snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae)

Habitat: Moist meadows, subalpine to tree line

Modified leaves, called bracts are bright pink to rose-purple and hide the true flowers. The true flowers are inconspicuous green tubes within the colorful bracts. Rosy paintbrush will hybridize with yellow paintbrush to give a palette of colors ranging from pale pink to salmon to coral.

 
Photo of King's Crown

Kings Crown

NPS photo

King's Crown

Scientific name: Tolmachevia integrifolia

Family: Stonecrop family (Crassulaceae)

Habitat: Wet subalpine to alpine slopes, occasionally dry slopes.

King's crown can be found blooming from early July to mid-August. The deep red flowers form a dome shaped cluster at the top of each stem. Like other stonecrops, the leaves are succulent.
 
Photo of Queen's Crown

Queen's Crown

NPS photo

Queen's Crown

Scientific name: Clementsia rhodantha

Family: Stonecrop family (Crassulaceae)

Habitat: Wet meadows and willow bogs in subalpine to alpine.

Also known as rose crown, rose crown has pale pink to deep rose-red flowers which grow in a conical cluster at the top of each stem. It blooms from June to August and can reach a height of 3-11 in. (5-30 cm.). In fall, the succulent leaves turn a brilliant shade of orange red.

 
Photo of Parry Primrose

Parry Primrose

NPS photo

Parry Primrose

Scientific name: Primula parryi

Family: Primrose family (Primulaceae)

Habitat: Wet, rocky subalpine to alpine slopes and streamsides.

The flowers are bright pink with five petals that surround a yellow eye. The plant can reach a height of 3-15in. (10-40cm.). The leaves can reach a length of 2-11in. (5-30cm.). The flowers bloom soon after the snow melts in wet areas. Charles Parry was an early Colorado plant collector who named Grays Peak (one of Colorado's 14,000' peaks) for botanist Asa Gray. Gray in turn named this flower for Parry.

 
Photo of Dwarf Clover

Dwarf Clover

NPS photo by D. Pinigis

Dwarf Clover

Scientific name: Trifolium nanum

Family: Pea family (Fabaceae)

Habitat: Alpine summits, fell fields and dry meadows

The leaves are bright green and form dense, cushion-like mats. Tiny flowers are red-purple to yellow-white with dark purple tips. This tiny perennial plant grows very slowly – a plant the size of a small dinner plate may be 30 – 50 years old or older.

 
Photo of Moss Campion

Moss Campion

NPS photo by R. Smith

Moss Campion

Scientific name: Silene acaulis ssp subacaulescens

Family: Pink family (Caryophyllaceae)

Habitat: dry alpine sites

This small cushion plant resembles moss and is made up of tightly packed leaves dotted with pale pink to bright rose-colored flowers. It grows to a height of only 2"-3" ( 5-7cm), and may have a taproot 4' – 5' (120-132cm) long. Commonly seen along Trail Ridge Road, moss campion blooms from mid-June to August.



 

References

Beidleman, Linda H., Richard G. Beidleman, Beatrice E. Willard, and Ruth Ashton Nelson. Plants of Rocky Mountain National Park: A Complete Revision of Ruth Ashton Nelson's Popular Manual. Helena, MT: Rocky Mountain Nature Association & Falcon Pub., 2000. Print.

Kershaw, Linda, A. MacKinnon, and Jim Pojar. Plants of the Rocky Mountains. Edmonton: Lone Pine Pub., 1998. Print.

Did You Know?

a photo of Elizabeth Burnell, the nation's first female nature guide

Rocky Mountain National Park licensed the nation’s first female nature guides in 1917. Sisters Ester and Elizabeth Burnell learned the naturalist trade from advocate and author Enos Mills.