2018 Texas Bluebonnets Forecast and Locations to See Them
2017 was an interesting year for Texas Bluebonnets. Overall, it was a good but not great season. An early onset to spring brought on two distinct blooms. If you knew where to look, there were excellent fields for about 6 weeks, from early March through mid-April. Northern Texas still had blooms hanging around in late April. The roadsides were good in spots but levels of coverage were below what we had seen over the last several seasons.
So where does this place us for the upcoming 2018 season? Winter has been colder than average for Texas, as it has across much of the U.S. Bluebonnets germinate in the Fall and grow throughout the Winter. They absolutely love cold weather while they are developing their root systems. While they also need precipitation to sustain themselves, there has been sufficient (but not abundant) amounts sometimes in the form of accumulating snow across the Hill Country! The drought has been creeping back, but this is Central Texas, so that's not out of the ordinary. In fact, drought can often reveal some mind blowing bluebonnet fields as river and lake levels drop, allowing seeds to germinate. These plants are very drought resistant.
Given the forementioned, I predict a better than average bluebonnet season in 2018. While the displays do move around, here is my best guess on where to see the best Texas bluebonnet displays in 2018.
10. Ennis, Texas
I hate to say it with how Ennis has become synonymous with bluebonnets, but the displays there the last several years have been lackluster. You can't do a Google search for "bluebonnets" without seeing that mind blowing field on Mach Rd. back in 2010. Why is it on my list for 2018? Because when we drove through the area on our way to Canton, Texas while storm chasing on April 29, 2017, I almost wanted to stop and shoot the bluebonnets (but we couldn't as storms were developing off to the East). There will be some good displays up there but they just might be a little later in the season and off the beaten path.
9. Muleshoe Bend - Spicewood, Texas
In 2014 and 2015, Lake Travis completely dried up in Spicewood. While it made life tough on residents, it revealed an incredible field of bluebonnets in the dried up lake as seeds that gathered at the bottom germinated. With Texas transitioning into drought, this is already bringing water levels down.
While I hope the town of Spicewood never sees something like they did a few years back, we will probably see more bluebonnets at Muleshoe Bend in 2018, which was totally under water in 2016 and 2017.
8. Wildseed Farms - Fredericksburg, Texas
Wildseed Farms does a great job with their fields and displays. There is always a large field of red poppies and a giant bluebonnet field during the peak of wildflower season.
The fields are fenced off but they do grow a nice mix of wildflowers that are open to explore.
It is free and open to the public, but does tend to have crowds. I usually try to plan visits during the weekdays.
7. Turkey Bend Recreation Area - Marble Falls, Texas
Turkey Bend is situated on a bend in the Colorado River and is just west and opposite of Muleshoe Bend. It also has a higher elevation so it is not currently under water. The field here was thick and hearty in 2017, and I don't see any reason why it won't be again in 2018.
Camping is offered for a small fee. You can spend a great night under the stars next to a sea of bluebonnets here.
6. Terlingua, Texas
If you want to see bluebonnets very early in the year, head towards Big Bend National Park in mid February. These are a different species than the bluebonnets that grow in the Hill Country. They tend to be more sparse but grow very tall, up to 3 feet!
The park does have some flowers that grow near Santa Elena Canyon. I have found the best display are on the drive from Alpine to Terlingua along Highway 118. There is usually a great stretch of them in front of Big Bend Baptist Church.
5. Highway 29 Mason to Burnet
While the roadside displays were down in 2017, Highway 29 was still worth the drive and had plenty that made you stop for a quick picture. There was a large field west of Llano and the entire stretch has plenty of bluebonnets and paintbrush.
This is a very dangerous stretch of Texas highway. Use extra caution on this road and be aware of the dangers if you decide to pull over. Deer along this road are plentiful on cool Spring nights.
4. Kingsland, Texas
The decommissioned railroad tracks in Kingsland were unreal in 2015 and 2016. Then word got out (sorry, my bad) and the constant stream of people stomping right down the middle of the tracks likely lead to a less spectacular bloom in 2017. While it was still good, you had to walk down further and shoot in opposite direction (as less people walked down that far).
There was also an absolute ton of snake activity here. I saw and heard rattlesnakes on two separate occasions. The bridge is about 3/4 mile down the tracks. It is old and has large holes across it. This isn't the place to bring young children to for a shot in the bluebonnets, remember this is Central Texas.
3. The Bluebonnet House - Marble Falls, Texas
Talk about a place roaring back to life! The Bluebonnet House had not produced anything notable for several years. In 2017 the entire area surrounding the historic stone structure was completely covered in bluebonnets. That's the fun part of the season.
The house is fenced off and sits on private property. The adjacent field has been developed for Pedernales Electric Company. Use caution as you pull on and off of Highway 281.
2. Brenham, Texas
Some places are just too good not to share with everyone. Brenham was that place last year. I issued Bluebonnet Alert articles on TexasHillCountry.com during the season. The two I posted last year were for Brenham and the Bluebonnet House.
Brenham peaked in mid-March and started fading in early April in 2017.
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