By Fred Mays
April brings us many things. If you’re a baseball fan it means opening day. If you’re a tax fan (huh?) it means settling up with Uncle Sam. But in Texas it always means Bluebonnets, the official state flower.
Bluebonnet season starts in south and central Texas in March, and rolls slowly north, climaxing in north Texas by the middle of April. The actual peak season depends a lot on rain and weather conditions. The best place to see the flowers is along the “Texas Bluebonnet Trail” in the Ennis area.
Ennis is about an hour’s drive south from Dallas on Interstate 45. Before you make the trip, you can check the current bloom conditions on the official Ennis bluebonnet trail website [http://www.visitennis.org/bluebonnet.htm]. There is even an app for your smartphone. The map shows the best viewing areas, and is updated regularly during the month of April to show where the peak conditions are.
The best plan is to take Exit 259 at Palmer and head east on country roads. You’re likely to spot bluebonnets anywhere along the road and in farm fields. The bluebonnets are often interspersed with orange Indian Paintbrush, filling the scene with a beautiful color pallet.
Traffic along the trail can get pretty crowded on weekends, with people driving slowly and pulling off the side of the road to take pictures.
The official website contains links for lodging and restaurants if you plan to make a full weekend of it. This year the annual bluebonnet festival is being held the weekend of April 12-14. It includes art shows, wine tasting, and walking tours of downtown Ennis.
The drive along the Bluebonnet Trail is a great free family outing. There is even a convenient Dairy Queen at the end of the trail in Ennis for an ice cream stop after you’re done viewing and photographing all the wildflowers.