DC’s best sunflower fields during peak bloom

An open field of sunflowers extend almost to the sky at at McKee-Beshers WMA near Washington, DC
In August, the sunflowers seem to go on forever at McKee-Beshers WMA near Washington, DC
In August, the sunflower fields seem to go on forever at McKee-Beshers WMA near Washington, DC

Drive 30 minutes northwest along River Road this time of year and you will find yourself surrounded by acres of sunflowers. These public fields (situated in the 2000 acre McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area) are re-planted each summer to attract game birds in advance of the September 1 start of hunting season. [1]

A bee pollinates a sunflower during the August peak bloom at McKee-Beshers WMA
A bee pollinates a sunflower during the August peak bloom at McKee-Beshers WMA

Access to the Sunflower Fields

Access to the sunflower fields at McKee-Beshers can be reached via Hunting Quarter Road, a tight dirt path that runs parallel to River Road. Arrive before 10a, to avoid the crowds that flock to the sunflower fields every August. We came at 10:30 on a recent expedition and had to squeeze our way into the last legal spot in one of the tiny lots on Hunting Quarter Road. Moments later, the park service closed down the road to all but foot traffic.

All of the lots are a short distance from the sunflower fields, so just hike towards the river and you’re bound to run into one. The sun can be a bit intense in late August, so pack an umbrella and sunscreen, and you may want to set out your picnic blanket on one of the paths along the woods to take advantage of the shade.

An open field of sunflowers extend almost to the sky at at McKee-Beshers WMA near Washington, DC
Open sunflower fields extend almost to the sky at at McKee-Beshers WMA near Washington, DC

All are welcome to walk amongst the fields (no picking, please) for pictures and picnics. Naturalists may also be interested in the woods surrounding the fields, which are flooded each year to provide habitat for wood ducks.

Walk (or bike) past the fields and you will eventually pick up the C&O trail which runs for nearly 200 miles along the Potomac River.

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  1. McKee-Beshers WMA” Maryland.Gov, 2017, Accessed 4 Aug. 2020.‌
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