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Blooming Fireweed at Yankee Boy Basin, San Juan Mountains

Photo of the Month Gallery 1 - August


*Fireweed blooming in Yankee Boy Basin. This spectacular site is located in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, about five miles west of the town of Ouray, on a winding and precipitous mountain road. This is one of our favorite wildflower sites, and many hold the opinion that for wildflower viewing or photography, this spot has no equal.

Regardless of the time of year, a drive to Yankee Boy Basin is an experience not to be missed, and offers some of the finest scenery in the San Juans. In the summer months, a considerable portion of the road is passable for passenger automobiles. The last stretch of the road, however, requires a four- wheel drive vechicle. About a quarter of a mile along this road, you come upon a rise with a view of the basin and the lower limb of Twin Falls, visible in the above picture. In summer this region is alive with wildflowers, spectacular stands of paintbrush, blue colombine, and numerous other varieties of flowering plants.

The prominent peak to the north of Twin Falls is actually the eastern shoulder of Kismet Peak, leading into Cirque Mountain.

We have found that although somewhat variable, the peak in wildflower population is typical of the high country location (11,000 to 12,000 feet, or 3400 to 3700 meters), around the last week of July through the first days of August. Light summer rains may keep the basin in full bloom, but we have noticed that peak color rarely lasts more than two or three days. For more images of flowers in Yankee Boy Basin, we suggest you visit Dale Erikson Photography .

Fireweed, Epilobium angustifolium, is also known as " willow herb", and is a member of the evening primrose family. It is found widespread in the North and West of North America. It is one of the first to flourish over scorched areas following forest fires, hence the name 'fireweed'.

First Peoples ate the fireweed raw as a green vegetable, and espesially favored the sweet and succulent inflorescence and young stems. To read more about the natural history of fireweed, visit the site

Royal British Colombia Museum

Interested in Yankee Boy Basin and the San Juan Mountains?
Check out our San Juan Mountains Gallery.

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