Wildflowers in American Basin near Cinnamon Pass

american basin

Dave poses with the wildflowers in American Basin on July 30, 2010

On our first visit to this area together, in 1998, we stayed outside Lake City. The B&B owner suggested we check out American Basin, which is right where the road up to Cinnamon Pass gets serious. (See separate post here for GPS tracks.) We were up there toward the end of July and found the place carpeted in wildflowers. I’ve been back a couple times, including yesterday, and found plenty of wildflowers, not as many as before, but still plenty. This time, with a digital camera in hand, meaning I didn’t have to worry about how much film I was using, I got closeups and have been able to identify them all. First, let’s take a look at what it looked like in 1998:
painting flowers

In this July, 1998, photo, Loretta sits at her Julian French easel to paint flowers. You can see there are flowers everywhere. The entire basin floor was like that.

Here’s about the same location yesterday, July 30th. As you can see, no wildflower carpets. But a closer look revealed many flowers, some of which I’ve not sen before.

American basin today

Here's a shot from essentially the same location as the photo above. No carpet. But there were still plenty of flowers.

Queen's crown

What a stunning little flower! This is Queen's Crown, a member of the Stonecrop family.

Okay, enough complaining. Let’s dive into the flowers. I took several pictures of each including of each plant’s leaves to help with identification. I think I have them all identified correctly. The flower to the left is Queen’s Crown, a stunning little beauty.

American bistort

Sometimes my little point and shoot gets it right. It certainly did so on this American Bistort.

The flower to the left is richly detailed. I’ve not yet seen this, so this is a new one for me. Apparently it’s called American Bistort. I don’t know what a bistort is, but it must be impressive if this flower is named after it.

Subalpine Larkspur

This flower is a dead ringer for Subalpine Larkspur, but the location is anything but sub-alpine. Not even alpine, the setting is tundra, above the tree line.

Here we are with a dark purple beauty, Subalpine Larkspur. I’ve seen these just about everywhere I’ve traveled in the high country around here, including up on the Uncompahgre Plateau.


Subalpine Larkspur

Here's the same flower as in the picture above, Subalpine Larkspur, but in its own setting.

Here’s the Subalpine Larkspur in its natural setting. Sometimes flowers can look alike but the plants have very different leaves. These leaves match the wildflower book.

wild strawberry flower

I had no idea I held strawberry flowers in my hand. I'll have to go back when the berry is ripe!

I love strawberries! I had no idea these were strawberries until I checked the book. That’s the nice thing about a digital camera—I took lots of pictures and was able to focus in to make sure the flower matched the wildflower book.

strawberry plant

I'm making it a practice now to also photograph the leaves for reference when I dig through the book.

Here I hold back the plant so I can see both the reverse and obverse of the leaves. This is very helpful in plant identification.

queen's crown

We're back to the Queen's Crown, this time in its natural setting.

Note the busy bee. She ignored me. These Queen’s Crown in their natural setting are simply stunning. I don’t think I’ve seen these before.

rosy paintbrush

I've been trying and trying to identify this flower, which I've seen in lots of places. I believe I have it correct as Rosy Paintbrush.

At last I think I’ve identified this flower, which I’ve seen other places. Earlier in the season these have only one flower, which was misleading. Now that a few weeks have gone by, they’re easier to identify as Rosy Paintbrush.


What are the Colorado mountains without Columbines? The Columbine is the state flower.

Columbines come in different colors, but around here I’ve only seen this. I first saw the high country columbines in Yankee Boy Basin toward the end of June.

orange sneezeweed

Here's another one I've been trying to identify. It looks for all the world to be a great match for Orange Sneezeweed.

I see this flower everywhere. It seems like the petals hold themselves back so the inner part of the flower is showcased. These are Orange Sneezeweed.

tall fringed bluebells

Last but not least are these ubiquitous Tall Fringed Bluebells. They're tiny flowers and are a dead ringer for the picture in the Wildflower Book

Here we are with Tall Fringed Bluebells, which I’ve seen all over the place.

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