Bluebonnet Lottery

Al Braden for Austin Sierra Club Newsletter 01-30-21

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What’s it going to be?

A good year? Average? Not so much?

We all need to get out. What is more socially distanced than a big field of bluebonnets on a country road? Soon it will be time to buy that ticket for the 2021 Bluebonnet Lottery and hit the trail. A few are starting in my neighborhood – that’s a good sign. And with two Big Bend trips booked already, I’m hoping for the best.

It’s my favorite time of year in Texas – spring + wildflowers. It’s hard to choose between the Hill Country and Big Bend. I try and be in both places at once. Every season is a guess, so I won’t presume to make a bluebonnet forecast. One guy who really keeps up with the pulse of the bluebonnet season is Rich Olivieri down in San Antonio, publisher of Texas wildflower guidebooks and contributor to a great Facebook page:  Texas Wildflower Report. Even Rich isn’t saying for sure yet. The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center has some good information – but it’s still a bit early to be making predictions. 

Of course, what I really want to know is where exactly the sun will be coming up over a great field of prime bluebonnets with a great composition on the next morning – with a great sky and low breeze. Maybe a little dew too. People who know that generally aren’t talking. It’s like asking someone to disclose their favorite fishing spot. What I can say is that I’ve been obsessed with photographing Texas wildflowers for the last fifteen years – and I can say where I’ve found some bluebonnets in the past. What I have no idea about is where I’ll find them this year – the whole Hill Country and Big Bend area are possibilities.

Here are a few favorites:

The most amazing fields of bluebonnets I’ve ever seen were at Muleshoe Bend LCRA Park on Lake Travis in 2015. In this photo, the sun was going down. They went on forever, filling the sandy floodplains that are usually below water. But with the lake down below 40% capacity – a serious downside – the Bluebonnets came out by the zillions. Now, happily, the water is back up and unfortunately the Bluebonnets are few and far between. Frankly, I’ll appreciate the water. How will it be this year? The potential is too good not to check. Photo © Al Braden 2015

Texas Bluebonnet Panorama (Lupinus texensis), Willow City Loop, Gillespie County, Texas

One of the must go locations to enjoy is Willow City Loop between Llano and Fredericksburg. It’s private ranch road – and slowly developing in some areas – but it does have very high potential for amazing Bluebonnets. Some of the  county roads in Llano and Mason are my favorites too. Photo © Al Braden 2014

Texas Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), Willow City Loop, Gillespie County, Texas

I’m always drawn to individual bluebonnets – in a sea of blue. This one near Willow City just seemed to have the right personality. Photo © Al Braden 2012

Big Bend Bluebonnet at Big Bend National Park, Texas (Lupinus havardii).

Everything is large at Big Bend National Park, including the Big Bend Bluebonnets which are a unique species, Lupinus havardii, growing over two feet tall. This view is near Mule Ear Peaks – and unfortunately the sun is neither rising nor setting. Shucks, I’ll have to try again! Photo © Al Braden 2015.

Big Bend Bluebonnet at Big Bend National Park, Texas (Lupinus havardii).

The entrance road near Panther Junction at Big Bend National Park often features long colonies of Bluebonnets, offering a prime attraction during the early season. Photo © Al Braden 2015.

Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), Rt. 90, Medina County, Texas

I found this friendly clump of Bluebonnets along Rt. 90 near Medina in 2010. Matt Johnson often closes out fund raising appeals for Lone Star Sierra Club with this little bit of Texana. So when you see this photo, reach for your wallets. Photo © Al Braden 2010.

Cheers and good wildflower hunting in 2021!

When you find a really good spot, let me know.