Photo: Monument plants on Copley Lake. Courtesy of The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival / Amber Scott

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It’s shaping up to be a marquee year for the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival which kicked off last week. The annual event is expected to draw around 200 people a day and a total between 1,500 and 2,000 visitors. That’s according Michelle Bivens, Executive Director of the Wildflower Festival, who says the very wet winter combined with a late spring means that early-blooming flowers are actually overlapping with mid-season flowers, resulting in a more diverse bloom that’s happening all at once. 

“The other thing that makes it really really special is that we’re experiencing a very high number of the green gentian or monument plants blooming,” said Bivens.

Monument plants are hard to miss. They grow in clumps and can reach several feet higher than its neighboring flora. Bivens says that monument plants seen around the Gunnison Valley right now are anywhere between 25 and 125 years old. 

“They develop underground for four or five years before they even emerge from the soil. And then they grow and they grow and they grow, and then they bloom once and then they die and that’s it,” Bivens said. 

“People will have the opportunity to see them down low. Often times they have to go really high to see those plants. They’re all over the Valley, and that’s super exciting and a once in a lifetime opportunity for people to see it.”

The Green Gentian or Monument Plant is blooming in abundance this year in the Gunnison Valley. Courtesy of The National Forrest Service

As always, the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival is instructing participants not to pick the wildflowers. They’ve adopted a new slogan to help both the flowers and the native bee population. Speaking on behalf of the flowers, “If you love me, leave me for the bees.”

The Crested Butte wildflower festival runs from July 5th to the 14th. They’re based out of The Depot at 716 Elk Avenue in Crested Butte and can be found online CrestedButteWildflowerFestival.com

Full disclosure, the Wildflower Festival underwrites at KBUT.

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