Spring has arrived and as the snow melts, wildflowers begin to bloom all throughout the United States. When I compiled my list of the 11 reasons I moved to Idaho, wildflowers was noticeably absent. Why? Well, from the time of my first visit, which was a 30-day roadtrip through the state, to the time that I packed up and moved, I had only seen the state in the winter. Little did I know that Idaho became even more beautiful in the spring.
In preparation for an upcoming wildflowers themed workshop that I plan to run for Idaho Photo Workshops, I decided to start finding some of the state’s best locations to see the vibrant spring blooms. On the advice from my friends from Visit Idaho, I headed to the Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Located just outside of Fairfield in the picturesque southwest region of Idaho, the 3,100-acre marshland is home to thousands of waterfowl who descend on the area during the purple camas lily bloom, which generally occurs from late May through mid-June.
Wanting to see the flowers and the fowls, I headed out of my Boise home on May 26th, 2017. I arrived in the late afternoon under some incredibly moody clouds in which the sun broke through in beautiful rays as I traveled along the dirt roads that were recently hit with a fresh spring rain.
Passing an old and eerie abandon barn gave me ideas for a night photograph under what was forecasted to be a clear sky.
As I entered the designated marshland, I was amazed at the peaceful and calm feeling that overcame me. Even though the Idaho Statesmen had recently reported that the coming days could be the Camas lily’s peak, there was no one else in the vicinity. This was a welcome site, especially since the dirt roads provide little turn offs and places to park if you see a scene that you would like to gaze upon for a while.
With the sunlight beginning to fade, I found myself wondering if there was another location that I was missing, as I wasn’t seeing the sea of purple that I was expecting. The truth is, some years are just better than others. Even the locals don’t know how to predict how the year’s bloom will unfold. Terry Gregory, habitat biologist for Idaho Department of Fish and Game told the Idaho Statesmen that even though the area had received a large amount of snow this winter, the bloom wasn’t amounting to be extra spectacular this spring.
But, there I was, staring at a beautiful display that led me to wonder what exactly a spectacular bloom might look like. To me, the bloom was beautiful, even if the purple didn’t appear as a ‘lake’ across the prairie. With the imposing Soldier Mountains in the background, the late afternoon scene was amazing to witness, especially without a soul around for miles.
As the sun beams continued to dance through the breaks in the clouds, I realized that sunset was quickly approaching. And that is when an already beautiful scene became downright magical.
I stood in awe as the sky turned pink and purple behind the color-filled marshland. And still, I couldn’t believe I was the only person in this slice of paradise who was lucky enough to experience another incredible Idaho spring sunset.
Riding a high from such a spectacular sunset and armed with a box of dry Triscuts for dinner (big mistake), I decided to stick around until nightfall to photograph the barn that I had found as the Milky Way rose above it.
Being just 100 miles from Boise, I only spent not even 12 hours in the Camas Prairie, but that short time once again reminded me that Idaho is one of the most beautiful, and most likely, underrated states in all of the country.
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