2023 Peak Bloom
The NPS judged that the Yoshino cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin reached peak bloom on March 23, 2023. They're now done for the year..
Warmer temperatures yesterday brought more flowers out. Another warm day today will bring out even more. So it'll be very easy to find cherry blossoms flowering around the Tidal Basin over the weekend, but they're likely to still be a warm day or two away from peak bloom sometime during next week.
There's still a wide variation in stages, so we're seeing the start of a rolling bloom that is more gradual than we sometimes get. There are flowering trees all the way around the Tidal Basin, but most of the trees aren't yet blooming fully. And there are some that are lagging behind.
The weekend is shaping up to be cool. And the current forecast for cold temperatures overnight on Saturday and Sunday is worth keeping an eye on. They're flirting with the danger zone (sub-26 degrees), but it will hopefully stay a little warmer than that.
- West Basin Drive is closed. Ohio Drive still has normal traffic patterns and access as of this morning, but the road hardware is being prepped. I'd expect the restricted traffic patterns to be in place over the weekend.
- On Saturday, the Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon will result in some road closures downtown, around the Mall, and Memorial Bridge. The Tidal Basin will remain open.
- The Welcome Area next to the MLK Memorial is scheduled to open tomorrow. For now, they're still setting up.
- The best way to get to the cherry blossoms is by Metro, riding, or walking. If you plan on driving and taking your chances with heavy traffic, I have some information on parking.
There's more info on these at the bottom of this post.
What to Expect
- The Yoshino cherry blossoms start white and gradually turn pale pink as they move past peak bloom.
- There's about a dozen different varieties of cherry trees around the Tidal Basin and surrounding area. The most numerous, and most famous, are the Yoshino cherry trees. But some of the varieties can be a little more pink than others.
- There are around 3700 cherry trees around the Tidal Basin and nearby areas. There are many nearby surrounding East Potomac Park (the golf course and Hains Point) as well as quite a few on areas of the National Mall.
- How long they stay out depends largely on the weather. In the right conditions (cool, calm, dry), they can be out for a week or even two. In the wrong conditions (windy, rainy, hot), they can be chased away in as little as 3-5 days. I've put together a visual timeline using photos from previous years here. As the blossoms move past peak bloom, they become increasingly fragile. This means that there's a risk of a big rain or windstorm knocking many of them off. And unsettled weather is quite normal at this time of year.
For a visual sense of the blooming process, here's a time-lapse I shot several years ago that compresses the multi-day process into seconds. It captures about five days or so, through the peduncle elongation, puffy white, and peak bloom stages. If you look closely, in the last second or so you can start to see a little pink tint creeping into the petals.
How It Looks This Morning
These were all taken earlier this morning at the Tidal Basin.
Things Worth Knowing
- West Basin Drive is closed for the Welcome Area setup and is scheduled to remain closed through April 6. The MLK Memorial and FDR Memorial remain open as usual to pedestrian traffic.
- West Basin Drive is closed. Ohio Drive still has normal traffic patterns and access as of this morning, but the road hardware is being prepped. I'd expect the restricted traffic patterns to be in place over the weekend, which means one-way traffic around Ohio Drive, a block entrance next to the John Ericsson Memorial (i.e., the Lincoln Memorial end), and try up past the Jefferson Memorial.
- On Saturday (March 18), there will be a Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon downtown. Most of the course is not near the Tidal Basin, but it does run along a section of Constitution Ave, around the Lincoln Memorial, and over Memorial Bridge. As a result, there will be some road closures affecting the area to consider if you plan to drive, especially if you are coming from the northern side of the National Mall or from Arlington (Memorial Bridge will be closed). Check the road closure information they've posted as well as a street-by-street breakdown. The DC Police Department has posted another detailed advisory here.
- The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March
2018 through April 16. (They've revised the opening date to March 18.)
- The 2023 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run & 5K Run-Walk is scheduled for the weekend of April 1-2. The Tidal Basin will still be open to pedestrian traffic, but there will be road closures in the surrounding area.
- The Jefferson Memorial is still undergoing renovations. The current phase mainly affects the lower level inside, but there's some fencing and scaffolding at ground level outside. The main rotunda remains open. The exterior renovations to the dome are still looking great!
- Parking lots A, B, and C mostly won't be available for visitor parking this year. They're being used as staging and storage areas for nearby construction on the Metro line.
- If you're looking for accommodation, I've put together some suggestions on where to stay when visiting DC's cherry blossoms.