The Clark Fork Native Prairie (CFNP) takes you back to the vegetation seen by Lewis and Clark when they came through Missoula in the early 1800s. Montana's state grass, bluebunch wheatgrass, flaunts its blue-grey sprays of tall grass blades with their pointy spikes of seeds. Presently yarrow's tall white "umbrellas" balance the grasses in height and muted bluish foliage. Brilliant yellow and orange blanket flowers punctuate the clumps along with all-yellow arnicas. The colors change all summer as wildflowers take their turns in the landscape.
Between the grass bunches delphinums and bitterroots stipple the ground with purple and pink. In the shade of the cottonwoods beds of bright fuschia colored Clarkias flower in mid June, perhaps as William Clark saw them. The stunning Clarkias are named for William Clark.
Another pink flower honors the Corps of Discovery. Meriwether Lewis documented the bitterroot on July 1 or 2, 1806 near Traveler's Rest along Lolo Creek in southern Missoula County, according to the Native Plant Society. The bitterroot's official name honors Lewis: Lewisia rediviva. Bitterroot blossoms open in the morning but close by afternoon as in the above photo.