Ennis Bluebonnets

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Ennis Bluebonnet Trails and Festival

Ennis, Texas is located 35 south of Dallas off of Interstate I-45.  It is best known for its free Bluebonnet Trails and Festival which takes place the third weekend in April.

The bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas and grows wild across the hills of the state along with Indian paintbrush creating lovely blue and red fields.

Ennis, designated the Official Bluebonnet City of Texas in 1997, features 40 miles of driving trails through the native bluebonnet fields, found mostly on private land. 

The bluebonnet trail map includes three routes (north, south, and west) as well as public locations where photos may be taken “in” the bluebonnets.  The map also indicates places where visitors driving the bluebonnet trails will find longhorns, horses, and a winery. 

Depending on the weather, the Ennis bluebonnets typically peak the second or third week of April.  But every April, the Ennis Garden Club drives the routes and reports to the Ennis Welcome Center the blooming status of the bluebonnets.  The status may also be found at bluebonnettrail.org or on the interactive app, Ennis Y’all that you may download at the app store.

Due to their natural blooming, the map will vary slightly each year, so be sure to check the best locations.

My Visit to See the Ennis Bluebonnets

Remarkably, having lived in Dallas forty of my 52 years, I had never been to Ennis to see the bluebonnets.  In fact, I don’t think I have ever stopped in the city of 22,000.  I generally drive right through Ennis on my way to Houston, and if my timing is right I simply admire the bluebonnets on the side of the highway as I pass by!

Finally, this year, I visited the Monday following the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails and Festival.  I went in the late afternoon to allow time to explore the trails and find a place to shoot the bluebonnets at sunset.

While I drove portions of all the routes, I spent most of my time along the North Trail which features the Texas longhorns, barns, and horses.  Who wouldn’t want to capture a photo of the iconic Texas longhorn in a field of bluebonnets?

white clapboard house in field of bluebonnets in ennis texas

I also stumbled across a backroad near the North Trail which was one of my favorite places, so don’t worry if you accidentally take a detour.

bluebonnets and indian painbrush underneath tree in ennis, texas

When I got back on the route, I was treated to fields of yellow wildflowers too. What a treat!

Of course, I also wanted a photo of my sweet dog, Annie, in the bluebonnets.  Consequently, I checked out some of the public parks listed on the map including Kachina Prairie, Bluebonnet Park, and ultimately Meadow View Nature Area.

I’m not sure why Kachina Prairie and Bluebonnet Park were even listed as places for photos in the bluebonnets.  Kachina Prairie featured at a patch of seeded bluebonnets at the entrance big enough for a baby or small pet.  And Bluebonnet Park had more baseball diamonds full of little leaguers than bluebonnets.  What a misnomer!! In defense of Kachina Prairie, I might have had to hike through the 30 acres to find a bigger patch, and I didn’t plan for that.

Meadow View Nature Area

Fortunately, I hit the jackpot at Meadow View Nature Area!  I was so pleased to find a grassy slope full of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush that led to the shore of Lake Bardwell.  The kaleidoscope of colors, the lake, the birds, the fragrance, and the setting sun…what can I say!?! Naturally, Annie and I stayed until dark.

While Annie wasn’t the best at settling down behind a patch of bluebonnets and the dark layer of clouds wasn’t too conducive to the best sunset, overall, I’m so glad I visited Ennis on this quiet Monday evening. 

Given thousands of visitors come to Ennis to see the bluebonnets each year, I was pleasantly surprised that I could even capture of photo without any bystanders. This weekend night after the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails and Festival, I only shared the peaceful setting with a handful of photographers and families.

For those who wish to visit during the festival, as mentioned previously, it is held on the third weekend of April each year. In addition to driving trails, the festival features vendors and music in the historic downtown.  A schedule for the weekend may be found at bluebonnettrail.org.

History of Ennis

The 19th century historic downtown was recently revitalized after an EF-1 tornado ripped through Ennis’ Romanesque architecture.  So regardless of when you are visiting Ennis to see the bluebonnets, be sure to check out the quaint downtown.

Originally inhabited by the Tonkawa Native Americans, Ennis was established as a city a year after the Houston and Texas Central Railroad arrived in 1871.  From 1874 to 1890, Ennis expanded tenfold from 300 to 3,000 with the arrival of new settlers from the defeated Confederate States of America as well as many Europeans fleeing war-torn nations, later known as Czechoslovakia.

You can’t miss the strong Czech heritage and culture in Ennis.  Taste a kolache or return to Ennis for the National Polka Festival held every Memorial Day Weekend.  The Christmas in Ennis celebration is also known to be spectacular!

While Ennis was once known for its railroads and cotton, and proudly boasted the slogan “Where railroads and cotton fields meet,” now this agricultural and manufacturing community can exchange cotton for bluebonnets!

History of the Bluebonnet and Fun Bluebonnet Facts

The history of the Texas bluebonnet dates back to 1901 when the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America successfully convinced the Texas Legislature to vote for the beautiful bluebonnet as the state flower instead of the cotton plant or the prickly pear cactus!

The women displayed paintings of the bluebonnets on the legislature floor and adorned the politicians’ desks with bluebonnet floral arrangements on the day of the vote.  I’m grateful for the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.

I can’t imagine cotton (a symbol of Texas independence) or a cactus (legislature dubbed Cactus Jack) which had better chances of winning being the Texas state flower.  Especially since two species of the bluebonnet (Lupinus Texensic and Lupinus Subcarnosis) may only be found in Texas!

Believe it or not, these beautiful bluebonnets which need 8-10 hours of full sun are poisonous!  They are toxic to both humans and pets, so be careful not to ingest them.

Finally, most Texans I know will likely say it is illegal to pick the bluebonnets.  While this is a myth, please don’t pick them!  Most roadside bluebonnets are annuals that won’t reseed if picked or trampled. 

Furthermore, it is illegal to trespass, illegal to pick flowers in a state park, and illegal to park on the side of a highway in Texas.  As a result of where most bluebonnets grow, you’ll be doing something illegal while trying to pick them!

Where are the Bluebonnets in Texas?

Anyway, enjoy the bluebonnets in Ennis and if you are closer to Austin or Houston, check out the bluebonnets in Burnet and Chappel Hill, respectively.  For another resource to find Texas bluebonnets go to Wildflower Haven or Texas Wildflower Report on Facebook.

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

One thought on “Ennis Bluebonnets

  1. Great photos. I guess the longhorns are smart enough to avoid them. I like the big tree and the longhorn photos the best. (Did you know that longhorns evolved from cattle brought over by Christopher Columbus?)

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