One of the best things about exploring the Columbia River Gorge is the thousands of wildflowers in the area. Given the variety of topography and climatic conditions – this could be a lifetime of work and for Russ Jolley I suspect it was.
Jolley is the author of “Wildflowers of the Columbia Gorge”, an indispensable companion for a trip or hike in the gorge. My dog-eared copy has accompanied me on many hikes and trips for the past 25 plus years. Recently I noticed that I had written dates by some of the flowers of where and when I had spotted a particular flower. My earliest entry – April 6, 1991. What a fun way to re-visit my younger self.
This early in the year – the best spot for wildflowers is the drier eastern Gorge. Most are counting the days until the explosion of balsamroot, Indian paintbrush and lupine but we are still about a week away – although I did find a few near the Memaloose Hills.
My early season favorites come from the Lomatium family – commonly known as desert parsley. Here are two – the Columbia Desert Parsley and the Pungent Desert Parsley both rarely seen outside of the Gorge area. I invite you to discover why it is called “pungent”! I love photography – but it limits us to only one of our senses.
If you come visit – a great place to help you get started is the Friends of the Columbia Gorge website. They offer hikes and other helpful information. It is a great organization that is helping preserve the Gorge so we can enjoy it for years to come.
Just as famous as Columbia River Gorge wildflowers – are the many breweries on the north and south side of the river. A well-earned treat for the way home!