Plants

Wildflowers
Wildflowers in the mountain meadow.

NPS Photo / Walker Hall

 

Plants that grow in any given place change over periods of years or decades. This process is called plant succession or more broadly, ecological succession, because as the plants change so do the microorganisms and animals.

In places of bare vegetation, smaller plants like mosses, grasses and flowering plants begin this process. Aspen then start to grow in these open, sunny areas and lodgepole pine trees populate open, burned areas.

Eventually, these trees create too much shade for their seedlings to survive and are succeeded by ponderosa pine, Engelmann Spruce, Douglas Fir or Subalpine fir at varying elevations.

A mixture of all of these plants forms a climax vegetation that will stand over time unless disrupted by natural disturbances such as avalanches, wind storms, floods or climate change. The process then begins all over again.

 
Algae

Algae

NPS photo Algae Microscopic colors and patterns abound anywhere where water is found.

Invasive Exotic Plants

Invasive Exotic Plants

Don't be fooled. Cunning plants can upset vegetation processes in the native landscape.

Lichens

Lichens

Ancient pioneers of the plant world interact with living and non-living organisms.

Mosses & Liverworts

Mosses & Liverworts

Thank bryophytes for lime green cushioning on top of Rocky ground.

Photo of an Ink cap mushroom  NPS photo  Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Coming soon.

Golden aspens color the pine forest in RMNP.

Trees & Shrubs

These mighty groups of plants have deep roots in Rocky's landscape.

Columbine, which is the state flower of Colorado, is abundant in the park.

Wildflowers

Color and variety paints visual masterpieces all around the park.

Last updated: February 25, 2018

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Estes Park, CO 80517

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Through winter, the Information Office is open 8:00 am–4:30 pm Mon–Fri. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.

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