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..
We’re now a week after peak bloom, and the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin are still looking beautiful. But if you look closely, they’re moving past their prime now, and there’s a lot more cherry blossom “snow” on the ground.
Because of the somewhat drawn-out blooming process this year, there are still plenty of trees that are still going strong, while others that bloomed first are moving on, well on the way to losing their petals and sporting fresh green leaves.
Fun to know: There’s a specific word in Japanese for cherry blossom “snow”: hanafubuki (or sakurafubuki). Which translates along the lines of “flower snow storm” or “cherry blossom blizzard.”
You can find below:
- Submissions for the 2023 reader photo features are open. You can find the form below.
- Some photos taken this morning of the developing Kwanzan cherry buds.
- Logistical information for visiting the cherry blossoms.
UPDATE 3/31: After the rain clears out Saturday morning, high winds and potentially a few storms are predicted for the area Saturday into the evening. Such weather will have significant impact on the cherry blossoms in their current fragile state.
Prospects for the coming weekend (April 1-2) are a little dicey. The blossoms have held up well so far this week with cool and calm weather, but there’s rain expected Friday evening into Saturday. At this stage, with the blossoms getting increasingly fragile, any rain will have far more impact than it did last weekend. After the rain clears, there will still be plenty of flowers to see, but any rain or wind is going to knock a lot of petals off the trees and they won’t be looking quite as full and fresh as they were in their prime.
If you do plan to go this weekend, a heads up that the 2023 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run & 5K Run-Walk is scheduled for the coming weekend (April 1-2). The Ten Mile Run (April 2), course goes around the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park, as well as Memorial Bridge and part of Rock Creek Parkway. The 5K (April 1) course is further up toward the US Capitol end of the Mall and doesn’t directly go around the Tidal Basin but will likely cause some rippling traffic issues. The Tidal Basin will still be open to pedestrian traffic before, during, and after the race, but there will be road closures in the surrounding area that will heavily impact driving and parking in the area. I strongly recommend using alternative means of getting there (eg. Metro) if you can. And if you have to cross the race course during the race, please be patient and careful and give clear right of way to the runners. Better yet, cheer them on!
How It Looks at the Tidal Basin This Morning
It’s beautifully clear, but also a little breezy.
To give you a bit of a sense of what you can expect to see today if you head down to the Tidal Basin, these photos were all taken earlier this morning.
Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms
The Kwanzan is a different variety of cherry tree that blooms a little later than the others. So it’s an especially good fallback if you happen to be a bit late for the main bloom. There are fewer of them, but they’re especially pretty. I have more information on where to find them here.
These were taken this morning.
Submit Your Best Shots to the Reader Photos 2023!
Thanks for your interest, but 2023 submissions are now closed. You can see the posted photos here.
What to Expect
- They’re past peak bloom now and becoming increasingly fragile. More and more petals will be coming off each day.
- Rain is forecast at the beginning of the weekend.
- The Yoshino cherry blossoms start white and gradually turn pale pink as they move past peak bloom.
- There are about a dozen different varieties of cherry trees around the Tidal Basin and the surrounding area. The most numerous, and most famous, are the Yoshino cherry trees. But some of the varieties can be a little pinker 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 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.
Things Worth Knowing
- The 2023 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run & 5K Run-Walk is scheduled for the coming weekend (April 1-2). The Ten Mile Run (April 2), course goes around the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park, as well as Memorial Bridge and part of Rock Creek Parkway. The 5K (April 1) course is further up toward the US Capitol end of the Mall and doesn’t directly go around the Tidal Basin. The Tidal Basin will still be open to pedestrian traffic before, during, and after the race, but there will be road closures in the surrounding area that will heavily impact driving and parking in the area. I strongly recommend using alternative means of getting there (eg. Metro) if you can.
- West Basin Drive is closed for the Welcome Area setup and is scheduled to remain closed until April 6. The MLK Memorial and FDR Memorial remain open as usual to pedestrian traffic.
- Ohio Drive has now changed to a one-way traffic pattern, but they’ve reversed the direction this year. You can still enter near the Jefferson Memorial–that will direct you around to the left towards Parking Lot A and East Potomac Park in the direction of the golf course. If you want to access the stretch of Ohio Drive that’s next to West Potomac Park (i.e., by the FDR Memorial), you have to enter off Independence Avenue down by the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a bit messy, because you actually go in what is usually the outgoing side of the John Ericsson Memorial’s traffic island—the usual entrance lanes are blocked off.
- The Paddle Boat parking lot is scheduled to remain closed until April 5.
- The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs until April 16.
- 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.
- They’ve started putting up fencing around the base of the Lincoln Memorial. This is for a major renovation project to the memorial’s lower chamber. The main part of the memorial remains open.
- Parking lot A is open. Parking lots B and C aren’t available for visitor parking this year. They’re being used as staging and storage areas for nearby construction on the Metro line. (These are the lots at the base of the 14th St Bridge, behind the George Mason Memorial.)
- I’ve put together some informational pages if you’re coming in to see the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin: