While other travelers may be tightening their belts and cutting back for 2023, campers are finding ways to travel even more and often for less. If you’re looking for ideas for your next camping trip, how about timing it to the blooming spring flowers along the eastern seaboard?
Spacious Skies Unveils Their Follow The Flowers Campground Trail
“Spring is a time of renewal, and when the first wildflowers begin popping up through sometimes still-frosty ground, we know that the warmth, sunshine and adventures of the season have finally arrived,” said Ali Rasmussen, CEO and creative director of Spacious Skies Campgrounds.
“Our mission as a growing company is to not only offer fun and authentic campground experiences, but to also support local attractions, artists and other makers, and the Spring Bloom Trail is another way we encourage our guests to explore each region by day and relax and ‘camp on’ at night.”
Pick a Stop Or Two, Or Travel the Whole Trail
The new 14-stop Spacious Skies Campgrounds Spring Bloom Trail highlights the very best of springtime color, as the bloom of wildflowers progresses from the South to the North. The trail, which travels from campground to campground from Tennessee to Maine, encourages travelers to celebrate the beauty of flowers with ideas for where and when to experience the Spring bloom.
1. Spacious Skies Belle Ridge: Monterey, Tenn.
Location: Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau between Nashville and Knoxville.
Endangered Virginia Spirea, Purple Phacelia, Spring Beauty, Oxeye Daisy, Sweet White Trillium, Chicory start to bloom in late March. Spot them at Cummins Falls State Park, Burgess Falls State Park, Spacious Skies Belle Ridge UTV and hiking trails, as well as Tennessee Central Heritage Rail Trail.
Bask in Belle Ridge’s Beauty
More than 40 miles long, the Cumberland Plateau is the world’s longest plateau of hardwood forest. The plateau is home to nearly 60 threatened or endangered species.
Celebrate the season at the Blooms, Bluegrass & BBQ Festival in early May. Learn about the region’s history at the Monterey Depot Museum.
2. Spacious Skies Bear Den: Spruce Pine, N.C.
Location: One-half mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Pisgah National Forest in Western North Carolina and 15 minutes from the charming town of Spruce Pine.
Bloom begins in late March and includes Buttercups, Eastern Redbud, Queen Anne’s Lace, Wild Geranium wildflowers. Spot them along the trails at Linville Falls, at the Blue Ridge Parkway Craggy Picnic Area, along the shoreline of Julian Price Lake, or at Mount Mitchell State Park.
More To Do Near Spruce Pine
The highest point in the Eastern U.S., Mount Mitchell offers protection to some of the rarest wildflowers in the region including White Snakeroot and Pink Turtlehead. Western North Carolina is home to numerous species of Trillium. Look for these showy woodland flowers in shady areas.
Check out the events and festivals in the nearby town of Spruce Pine such as the Fires on the Mountain, a celebration of blacksmithing, held in April, and Troutacular, a fishing tournament for kids in June.
3. Spacious Skies Hidden Creek: Marion, N.C.
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains, 40 minutes from Asheville, in Buncombe county near the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers.
The Bloom begins late March for Rhododendron, Mountain Ash, Daisies, Dogwood.
Find them on the Craggy Gardens Pinnacle Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Max Patch Summit in Pisgah National Forest, Lake James State Park, Biltmore Estate, and North Carolina Arboretum.
What Else Does Marion Offer?
Since elevations along the Blue Ridge Mountains vary widely, visitors will find a huge array of wildflower species and a months-long, ever-changing wildflower bloom. The National Park Service reports that of all of the 1,600 plant species along the Blue Ridge Parkway to the north of the campground, 80 percent are wildflowers.
Explore Asheville’s River Arts District. Visit Biltmore Blooms at the Biltmore Estate. Hike to Daffodil Flats in the Linville Gorge, a “ghost garden” that was planted by a homesteader long ago.
4. Spacious Skies Peach Haven: Gaffney, S.C.
Location: The Upstate of South Carolina in the midst of farmland and rolling hills not far from Greenville.
Late February starts the blooming and includes Oconee Bell, Trillium, Balloon Vine, White Baneberry, Bulbous Buttercup, Bloodroot, Eastern Red Columbine, Butterflyweed, Narrowleaf Evening-Primrose. Find them in Devils Fork State Park and Table Rock State Park.
More than 680 species of wildflowers bloom in the state of South Carolina. The rare Oconee Bell is only found in a few places in the Southern Appalachians, and it only blooms for two or three weeks, from mid-March to early April.
What Else Is There to Do Around Gaffney?
The wildflower even has its own festival – the Oconee Bell Fest at Devils Fork State Park. The poinsettia appeared for the first time in the United States in Greenville when Joel Roberts Poinsett, a minister and amateur botanist who kept greenhouses on his Greenville plantation, found the poinsettia plant on a trip to Mexico in 1828 and sent cuttings home.
What else to do: Visit the famous Peachoid Water Tower. Tour Cowpens National Battlefield. Walk along the Trillium Trail at Nine Times Preserve. Celebrate the season at the Piedmont Plant & Flower Festival in late April.
Or you can enjoy all the amenities right at the campground.
5. Spacious Skies Sandy Run: Fayetteville, N.C.
Location: Carolina Sandhills in the heart of Cumberland County.
March blooms includes Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Creeping Phlox, Ironweed, Cardinal Flower, Flowering Dogwood, Siberian Wall Flower. Spot them at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden and J. Bayard Park & Nature Center.
Flowers, Fishing and More in Fayetteville
The North Carolina Department of Transportation features a wildflower program that seeds roadside wildflowers, ensuring that any spring road-trip in the state will be a colorful one.
Experience the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival in late April. Spend a relaxing day fishing at the catch-and-release fishing pond at the campground.
6. Spacious Skies Shenandoah Views: Luray, Va.
Location: Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, near Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive.
Early April starts the blooming of Hepatica, Aster, Turk’s Cap Lily, Spiderwort, Anemones, Wild Azaleas flowers. Find them along Skyline Drive, hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park.
There’s More To Love In Luray
There are more than 850 species of flowering plants in Shenandoah Valley, and the destination is considered one of the best places in the country to observe wildflowers. The region’s wildflower bloom lasts well into October.
Participate in a Wildflower Weekend walk in the national park in mid-May. Or Explore the Shenandoah Heritage Village, Luray Caverns, or taste test local spirits at the River Hill Distillery.
7. Spacious Skies Country Oaks: Dorothy, N.J.
Location: Southern New Jersey, within an easy drive of Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
Bloom begins mid-April for Sea Rocket, Sea Lavender, Black-Eyed Susan, Purple Loosestrife, Crimson Eyed Rose Mallow flowers. Find them at the Warren E. Fox Nature Center, and the New Jersey shoreline as Sea Rocket grows in the sand dunes.
Enjoy More of The Garden State
Sample wines from Balic Winery, where vineyards have been in operation since the early 1900s or visit the Funny Farm Rescue and Sanctuary. Or bring your clubs along and enjoy one of the many golf courses close by.
8. Spacious Skies Woodland Hills: Austerlitz, N.Y.
Location: Taconic and Berkshire mountain ranges of Upstate New York near the Massachusetts border and close to Boston, New York City, Providence and Albany.
Bloom begins in early April for Wildflowers: Red Trillium, Wild Blue Phlox, Northern Wood Sorrel, Queen Anne’s Lace, Bee Balm, Goldenrod. Spot them in Berkshire Botanical Garden, Vanderbilt Mansion.
Spend Spring Break in the Area
Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. Or drive to the summit of Mount Greylock the highest point in the state of Massachusetts and spend the day hiking the state park’s gorgeous land.
9. Spacious Skies Adirondack Peaks: North Hudson, N.Y.
Location: Adirondack Mountains, near Lake Champlain and the northern reaches of the Hudson River.
The Bloom begins early April for Blue Flag, Cardinal Flower, Cottongrass, Pickerelweed, Northern Pipewort. Find them along walking trails at the campground, Hammond Pond Wild Forest.
Skip the National Park Crowds and Enjoy The Adirondacks
Spring wildflower season coincides with mud season in the Adirondacks, and one of the great ways to avoid the mud – and enjoy wildflowers along the shoreline – is by paddling the region’s many ponds, lakes and rivers.
What else to do: Rent a pedal bike. Visit the Adirondack Buffalo Company, a working bison farm. Explore Fort Ticonderoga on the edge of Lake Champlain. Learn about climate solutions at The Wild Center.
10. Spacious Skies Minute Man: Littleton, Mass.
Location: Eastern Massachusetts, close to the heart of Boson.
Bloom begins late April for Wild Orchid, Foxglove, Rosebay Willowherb, and Meadowsweet flowers. Find them on the Nashua River Rail Trail or hiking and biking trails at Oak Hill Park.
A Little Bit More To Do in Littleton
Rent a canoe and paddle the Nashua River. Pick early season berries at Doe Orchards. Check out the Trail of Flowers, where volunteers plant thousands of flowering bulbs along the Assabet River Rail Trail every spring. History buffs will enjoy the town’s 350 year old history.
11. Spacious Skies Seven Maples: Hancock, N.H.
Location: Southwestern New Hampshire in the Monadnock Region, known for hilly terrain and abundant outdoor recreational activities.
Bloom begins mid-May for Golden Alexanders, Wild Columbine, Sundial Lupine, Ohio Spiderwort. Monadnock State Park, dePierrefeu-Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary are great places to find them.
If you’re looking for more things to do, rent a kayak and paddle the campground pond. Or Check out the home of the 14th U.S. President, Franklin Pierce, if you can get your kids out of the pool and off the waterslides.
12. Spacious Skies French Pond: Henniker, N.H.
Location: Southern New Hampshire, between the Merrimack Valley and Dartmouth regions.
The Bloom begins in early May for Lupine, Bluets, Pink Lady’s Slipper, Fringed Polygala, Blue Violets wildflowers. Find them in Clough State Park, Mount Sunapee State Park, as well as wooded areas and creek beds.
What else to do: Take a spring selfie at the Henniker Covered Bridge or find the joys in doing nothing amid the beauty of nature.
13. Spacious Skies Walnut Grove: Alfred, Maine
Location: Central Southern Maine, with easy access to coastal cities like Portland, Old Orchard Beach and Kennebunkport.
Bloom begins: late April for Purple Violets, Yellow Violets, Sweet White Violets, White Trillium flowers.
Where to spot: Wells Reserve. Marginal Way Coastal Walkway. Also, purple violets bloom in early spring, and they can be found in meadows, woodlands and along the roadside.
Celebrate the Season
The Maine coastal region celebrates spring with festivals like the May Day Festival in Kennebunk. Farmers markets open in May and sell early spring produce like strawberries and fresh lobsters. Check out the historic Old Orchard Beach pier, as well.
14. Spacious Skies Balsam Woods: Abbot, Maine
Located in the heart of the Maine Highlands near Moosehead Lake and vast, unspoiled wilderness areas. The bloom begins mid-May for Painted Trillium, Blue Violets, Trout Lily, Trailing Arbutus wildflowers.
Spot them in Low’s Bridge and the banks of the Piscataquis River, Moosehead Lake, Piper Pond. Also, The Trout Lily is one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom, and it can be found in ditches along the roads as soon as the ground thaws.
What else to do: Springtime fishing is a thing, and “ice out” begins in April. Farmers Markets in the Maine Highlands open in May.
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