3 Beautiful Botanic Gardens in the Mountain West

Visit alpine gardens from Colorado to Idaho

My mother is a master gardener. She has grown everything from vegetable gardens to bonsai treesand everything she touches thrives. I used to accompany my mother to The Butchart Gardens in British Columbia every summer. Sadly, I did not inherit her green thumb, but I did inherit her love of botanic gardens.  

As summer approaches, it’s the ideal time to start planning a visit to a botanic garden in the mountain west. Here are a few to consider.

Photo courtesy of Betty Ford Alpine Gardens


If you’re planning to visit a mountain botanical garden, this one has to be on your list, as it is the world’s highest botanical garden at 8200 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains. The best time to visit is June through August during peak flower season, although they are open year-round.

The grounds include a Children’s Garden, a Schoolhouse Garden, a Meditation Garden, a Mountain Perennial Garden,  and an Alpine Rock Garden. Whether you visit to find inspiration for your own alpine garden or  just to gaze upon the beauty of the place, the Betty Ford Alpine Garden is a must-visit for any flower lover passing through Vail, Colorado this summer.

Photo courtesy of Tizer Botanic Gardens


Eighteen minutes outside of Helena and a little over an hour from Bozeman, Tizer Botanic Gardens & Arboretum is a six-acre venue featuring gardens that also serve as a wedding and festival venue. The gardens also hosts educational activities throughout the year.

Tizer features a vegetable garden that grows every kind of vegetable imaginable, proving that even in an environment that gets less than 60 consecutive frost-free days, it is possible to grow food. There’s also a Rose Garden that was developed in 2003 for the purpose of testing roses for Weeks Roses of California, although today it is home to mostly Canadian roses. Read about Tizer’s other gardens, including the Secret Garden, here.

The Prickly Pear Creek runs through the middle of the property and provides water for the plants, as well as a beautiful aesthetic for visitors.

Interestingly, Tizer is the most-northern test garden for Plant Select®, a Colorado nonprofit that is a collaborative effort between Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Green Industry.  

Photo courtesy of Idaho Botanic Garden


This is the oldest botanical garden in Idaho and recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015. Located in the Boise Foothills in the heart of the Old Penitentiary Historic District, the garden features 14 specialty gardens, each with a unique focus.

Photo courtesy of Idaho Botanic Garden

Visitors to the Idaho Botanic Gardens should plan to spend the day. Don’t miss the Jane Falk Oppenheimer Heirloom Rose Garden. Planted in 1989, more than 300 roses in 107 varieties bloom here annually. Rose enthusiasts should note that most of the varieties here have been under cultivation for more than a century.

Categories: The Heidi Guide