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Ask A Ranger: Wildflower Wonder

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Ask A Ranger: Wildflower Wonder


   It is a cool spring morning in the forest, the buds are waiting to burst into leaves, the sun is bright and low in the sky, last autumn’s leaves still crunch under your feet. You look slightly off the trail and see a small molted three-leafed plant with a dark maroon flower in the middle. You look to the right and see white, multi-petal flowers, yellow nodding flowers and… is that a robin in the field?  

   Spring is a joyful time of year with promises of warmth and long days. To many outdoor enthusiasts spring is officially here when the woodland spring wildflowers have started to bloom. But why do these flowers show off in the early spring when there is danger of freezing temperatures at night? As day’s light is becoming longer, the temperature is warmer and insects are buzzing. But the most important factor in the ecology of wildflowers is that sunlight illuminates the forest floor because the leaves on the trees have not yet budded out. This allows for the plant’s food-making process to occur. Plants create their own food source from the soil’s minerals, water and the light energy that come from the sun. This process is called photosynthesis. Much of the year the forest floor is covered in thick shade from the tree’s canopy but this special time of year allows for woodland wildflowers to thrive. These amazing plants have evolved to grow, mature, flower and fruit all within this narrow timeframe between short day lengths and shaded forest floors. Scientists call this way of life ephemeral, or lasting for a short time.

  As the trees begin to leaf out, more shade is cast onto the ground and different flowers, more adapted to shade, bloom. Then these too recede back underground as darkness covers their flowering faces. The wildflower ephemeral season has ended, but not forever. They will endure underground through scorching heat, falling leaf cover and snow to again grace us with their hopeful company.

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park

Map of North Carolina



State park office


Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park




Chimney Rock access
and park office

743 Chimney Rock Park Road
Chimney Rock, NC 28720

GPS: 35.432799, -82.25026


Rumbling Bald access

827 Boys Camp Road
Lake Lure, NC 29746

GPS: 35.4434, -82.2194


Eagle Rock access*

1911 Shumont Road
Black Mountain, NC 28711

GPS: 35.4722, -82.2423
*Reservation required for parking


Mailing address

P.O. Box 220
Chimney Rock, NC 28720



  • January 1 to March 9:
    10:00am to 6:00pm
    Ticket sales and admission end at 4:30pm
  • March 10 to November 2:
    8:30am to 7:00pm
    Ticket sales and admission end at 5:30pm
  • November 3 to December 31:
    8:30am to 6:00pm
    Ticket sales and admission end at 4:30pm
  • Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

*PLEASE NOTE: Operating hours for Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park are subject to change throughout the seasons. Visit this website or for up-to-date information when planning your visit.

There is no fee for these accesses.

  • January to February:
    8:00am to 6:00pm
  • March to April:
    8:00am to 8:00pm
  • May to August:
    8:00am to 9:00pm
  • September to October:
    8:00am to 8:00pm
  • November to December:
    8:00am to 6:00pm
  • Closed Christmas Day

Reserve a parking space at Eagle Rock