If you know me, you know I LOVE wildflowers. There is something magical about seeing color pop up everywhere, even in the most unlikely places after a long gloomy winter.Wildflowers get no care, yet they bloom in adversity and come back year after year. White, yellow, pink, purple, blue, red… I love them all. In January, when I first heard about the bluebonnet festival in Ennis, I knew I had to go. Huge fields of wild bluebonnets dancing in the Texas wind? Yes, please! Sign me up! I did some research and began monitoring the state of the bluebonnets several times per week, starting late March. The bluebonnets usually peak mid-April, so make sure to stay on the lookout. Click here to check the current state of the bluebonnets in Ennis.
Related: Quick Guide to Texas Tulips
In Ennis, TX about 35 mi/ 56 km south of Dallas. Click here for directions to Ennis and a map to the bluebonnet festival.
The Texas bluebonnets begin blooming in February in the more southern parts of the state (Houston/ Austin areas) and reach their peak blooming time in April in the Dallas area. Every year is different, so make sure to monitor the blooming status of the bluebonnets before visiting. Though the bluebonnet trails in Ennis are accessible during the entire month of April, peak season is typically the second or third week of April. The 2023 edition of the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival will take place April 14-16, 2023.
The trails have no real opening or closing time as the bluebonnets grow along roadsides that are accessible 24/7. However, I recommend visiting on a weekday starting late morning or early afternoon for best lighting and fewer crowds.
The Bluebonnet is the Texas state flower. As its scientific name (lupinus texensis) indicates, it is a member of the lupin family. The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails offer more than 40 mi/ 64 km of drivable roads with possible bluebonnet sightings. The Ennis Bluebonnet Festival takes place the second or third weekend of April (April 14-16, 2023) and features live concerts, local craft vendors, and food trucks serving delicious food. The trails can get busy during the festival, but the country music and Texas sun provide such a nice atmosphere.
Driving along the trails and stopping for an occasional bluebonnet photo is free, but the Ennis festival entrance fee is $5 per person or free for children 12 years and under.
Though some areas on the Ennis bluebonnet trails are seeded and monitored, many of the bluebonnet fields are wild and the density of the bluebonnets will vary year after year. Here were our favorite bluebonnet locations for the 2021 season. Keep in mind that some of these locations are on private property, and trespassing is not allowed. If the area is fenced in, simply enjoy the bluebonnets from afar.
1. Ennis Veterans Memorial Park
Located at 2301 Ennis Parkway, the Ennis Veterans Memorial Park has a large viewing area on the left side of its parking lot. Signs indicate the seeded area to visitors. As you can see in the pictures above, there are patches of dirt in the field. When walking around the bluebonnets and taking pictures, try using those patches and watching your step to avoid damaging the wildflowers.
2. Meadow View Nature Area
While very beautiful, this area is also very popular and crowded. The Meadow View Nature Area is located right by Bardwell Lake. While was hoping for a few lakeside shots, it was impossible to get a decent photograph with the amount of people massed on the lakeshore and among the bluebonnets. However if you are visiting on a weekday and looking for a great place to take pictures among the bluebonnets, the banks of Bardwell Lake are ideal. The hills by the lake are blanketed in beautiful bluebonnets and the occasional red Indian paintbrushes.
3. FM 85
One of my favorite views on the bluebonnet trails was on Farm to Market Road 85 right across the Mach Road turnoff in Ennis. To our right were dozens of cows grazing among the bluebonnets. Of course, the area is fenced in, so take you’ll have to take pictures through the wire. The bluebonnets were also very abundant on that roadside by the fence. These bluebonnets were better preserved than the ones we had seen in city parks as fewer pedestrians wander on roadsides, making them ideal to photograph.
4. Walker Creek Rd
Soon after turning onto Mach Rd, we made another turn on Walker Creek Rd. Right after turning on Walker Creek, we noticed a large pond surrounded by tall grass and countless bluebonnets. This location is farther removed from the main attractions, and we had the view all to ourselves
5. FM 660
Driving through Ennis bluebonnet trails reminded me of driving through a national park: going slowly not to miss any viewpoints and stopping where cars line the roadside. This is exactly what happened as we drove on Farm to Market Road 660 toward Sugar Ridge Rd when we noticed 20 vehicles parked on the side of the road. To our left lay a large open field of bluebonnets, perfect for pictures. Garrett grabbed the camera and quickly shot what would become my favorite pictures of the day. As I mentioned previously, these pictures were taken with me sitting and laying in patches of dirt to avoid harming the bluebonnets.
ATTENTIONBe careful parking on road sides as you may be ticketed for blocking the roadway. improper parking is not allowed on the trails, and you will be responsible for any damage to your or someone else’s vehicle.
6. Sugar Ridge Rd
Sugar Ridge Road is currently a hot spot for pictures of bluebonnets and livestock. Many horses roam the pastures lining the road to the family-friendly Sugar Ridge Winery & Bistro in Bristol, TX. From Sugar Ridge Road, we got back on I-45 and headed home before dark.
Note that though it is not illegal to pick bluebonnets, they are likely to wilt fast once ripped from their root. I highly encourage you to leave the bluebonnets in the grounds for future visitors to enjoy as others did before you.
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