Looking for Spring vacation ideas? Look no further than the US National Parks. We’ve rounded up 31 of the best US National Parks to Visit in the Spring, as recommended by fellow travel bloggers.
March-June is one of the best times to visit the U.S. national parks, as you’ll find the parks less crowded than in the summer months, but not as cold as the winter. You’ll experience vibrant wildflowers, animals emerging from their winter hideouts, and the parks bursting with life and vibrance.
We hope you enjoy this diverse list of National Parks to visit in the Spring- from the Everglades to the Tetons, to Redwoods, to Volcanoes- there is something for all tastes, budgets, and ages!
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31 Best US Parks to Visit in Spring
Everglades National Park
Hands down, one of the best national parks to visit in the spring is Everglades National Park. The Everglades is a large tropical wetland located at the tip of Southern Flordia. The Everglades is a unique swampy ecosystem boasting sawgrass, sloughs, mangroves, and unique animals such as the crocodile, alligator, and manatees. It’s also a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Everglades National Park is located at the southern tip of Florida. Summers can be swelteringly hot and humid in Florida, whereas early spring is warm and not nearly as humid. The Everglades is one of the more easily accessible Parks, as it is only 1.5 hours south of Miami. It’s also a great jumping-off point for the Florida Keys.
For easy access to the Everglades stay in Homestead, FL or South Miami. Homestead is about 25 minutes from the main Everglades Visitor’s Center.
Things to do in Everglades National Park
There are tons of outdoor activities in the Everglades. The most popular section of the Everglades is to the South and starts at the Ernest Coe Visitor’s Center. Two great hikes with small children (and which are wheelchair accessible) are the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo Trails, along with the West Lake Trail.
Be sure to check out the Flamingo area to the south to catch a glimpse of alligators, crocodiles, and manatees!
-Recommended by Catherine of Traveling with the Littles
One of the best national parks to visit in the spring is Capitol Reef National Park located in Utah. It is one of the mighty 5 national parks in Utah.
One of the best reasons to visit this area in Spring is that the weather is perfect. Summer can be very hot and winter can get below freezing. During April and May, the temps average around 65-74 degrees. This is a great temperature to hike and explore the area.
Things to Do at Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef is known for its large “echo” canyons. If you want to experience the world where everything feels so big and you are so small this is the place! There are fabulous hikes, beautiful scenic drives, and canyoneering at Capitol Reef National Park.
Fruita Historic District at Capitol Reef National Park
Not only does Capitol Reef have amazing outdoor recreation areas but surprisingly this park has a historical aspect to explore. The Fruita Historic District is located within the park. There are cabins from early pioneers to explore as well as a blacksmith shop.
Before Capitol Reef was a national park it was part of a huge community fruit tree orchard. These trees are still there today. You can visit the Gifford House and buy jams and in certain seasons pies, made from the fruit grown at the park. Have you ever been to a national park that serves pie? It is awesome!
Spring is the perfect time to visit Capitol Reef National Park.
–Recommended by Lisa of Planning Away
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is such a great park to visit during the spring! This park is so unique, it’s hard to appreciate its beauty without experiencing it first-hand. There is so much to do here! You can hike, rock climb, boulder scramble, stargaze, or just do some scenic drives.
There are so many great things to do here! 2 days in Joshua Tree National Park will give you plenty of time to see and do the highlights of this magical park!
Spring is the best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park. Because the park is in both the Mojave and the Colorado Desert, temperatures can get very extreme in the summer and winter. In the summer it can get so hot that it is unsafe, and in the winter, it can get very cold. In the spring, you can see flowers blooming, as well as even find some water on hikes like the famous Barker Dam which is dry most of the year.
Be sure when you visit Joshua Tree National Park that you do the Wall Street Mill Hike. This family friendly easy hike is so much fun! It’s flat with no elevation changes and leads to an old gold press mill. Along the way you’ll pass old homesteads, a windmill, several old abandoned cars, and the marker to a famous gun fight! There is no shade, so even in spring, start early and bring plenty of water!
The BEST thing to do at Joshua Tree, is to stay after dark and watch the sky. There is very little light pollution here, and you can see the stars and milky way like you have never seen them before!
There are no services in the park, so once you’ve worked up an appetite, head out of the park and down the road a few miles to Pioneer Town. This “town” was built to film western movies and is fun to explore. You’ll want to eat dinner at Pappy and Harriets. This legendary restaurant has delicious food and an incredible atmosphere, don’t miss it!
–Recommended by Chantell of Flannels or Flip Flops
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is famous for its granite monoliths, namely El Capitan and Half Dome, and its impressive waterfalls. The waterfalls are in full flow in spring as the snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada mountains makes its way to Yosemite Valley, creating the most stunning and powerful images. Most famous is Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America, which people flock to see in spring when it is at its best.
But it’s not just waterfalls that attract travellers to Yosemite in spring. There are many walking and hiking trails to explore, and we enjoyed the loop hike to Bridal Veil Falls. It is an accessible trail for all ages, even babies in pushchairs! The trailhead starts from the car park and proceeds along the riverbank, through the giant sequoia trees and on to the mighty Bridal Veil Falls, where adults and children will be amazed at the force and sound of the water cascading over the rock face.
White water rafting and rock climbing are also popular in Yosemite for those looking for adrenaline-pumping activities.
On my family visit to Yosemite in May, we stayed in Camp Curry. This tented camp was the closest we could get to nature in the wilderness. It was warm inside as even though we traveled in spring, the heaters had been left on, so we were cozy at night. The camp had a swimming pool for warmer days and a great pizza restaurant that the kids loved. For my boys, it was an adventure sleeping in a tent in Yosemite with the prospect of bears roaming nearby!
–Recommended by Angela of Where Angie Wanders
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a beautiful National Park found in southwest. Spring (late April-early June) is an excellent time to visit because of the many flowers, no crowds and comfortable temperatures.
One of the best things to do in the park is simply to follow the Rim Road Drive. This 7 mile drive (from Tomichi Point to High Point) leads along 12 viewpoints with splendid views of the Black Canyon.
Please note the Black Canyon South Rim Drive usually opens in early April. The exact date is depended upon snow conditions.
The South Rim Visitor Center remains open year-round but the Rim Road Dive is closed to vehicle traffic during the winter months (it’s used for cross-country skiing).
Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP offers several beautiful trails perfectly suitable to families. The Rim Rock Nature Trail is a moderate 1.5 mile out and back trail.
The Oak Flat Loop Trail is a 1.3 mile loop trail which is doable as well. Do keep in mind you’ll be ascending 400 meters into the Canyon. The way back will therefore be challenging but kids 6+ that like hiking will be up for the challenge.
If you want to spend the night at the park you can book a spot on the South Rim Campground (open year-round). Hotels can be found in Montrose, the Holiday Inn Express is a good option.
–Recommended by Lotte of Gezond Weekmenu
Bryce Canyon National Park
One of the best national parks in the US to visit in the spring is Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s located in the southwest corner of Utah and is fairly easy to get to from either the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, or even Salt Lake City.
It’s best visited in the spring because almost everyone opts to visit the park during the summer. One thing to know about Utah in the summer is that it’s HOT, so you can avoid the heat and the crowds by visiting during spring instead.
Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for it’s amazing hoodoos, which are natural rock formations jutting out all over the park. They can be seen from almost everywhere; in fact, visiting them up close is one of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon.
The park also has quite a few different family-friendly hikes. The most notable one is the Sunrise to Sunset Point hike. This easy hike along the rim of Bryce Canyon has the best sunrise and sunset views, so try to do the hike during one of those times. It’s flat almost the entire way and is only about a mile long. However, there are steep edges, so be careful if you’re visiting the park with little ones.
If you’re wondering where to stay when visiting Bryce Canyon, opt to stay in Tropic to save money! It’s a small town right down the street from the entrance. There are also lots of restaurants nearby, including Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill and I.D.K. BBQ.
–Recommended by Krystianna of Volumes & Voyages
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is one of the most exciting parks in the United States because it is a human-made landmark. It still holds many mysteries, unsolved puzzles, petroglyphs, and unusual structures whose purpose is still not fully known to us. It’s located in southwestern Colorado, 10 miles from Cortez and 36 miles from Durango.
The main attraction of this national park is the pre-Columbian pueblo settlements built into the canyon wall by the Anasazi Indians. It is estimated that the settlements were built between the 6th and 14th centuries AD. The individual buildings are terraced, and between them are oval kivas, buildings of religious significance. To this day, this place plays an essential role in the spiritual life of modern Indians. There are also waterholes and ancient farmlands in the immediate vicinity. In the 14th century, the inhabitants left the area for not fully understood reasons.
When visiting Mesa Verde National Park, you go back in time and can see how people lived a few hundred years earlier. It’s a fantastic place, perfect for a trip with kids.
Late spring is a great time to visit the park. It is sunny, although it can be chilly due to the altitude above sea level. But these are perfect conditions for sightseeing, and above all, there are much fewer tourists. In winter, some roads in the park are closed, and only part of ancient buildings are accessible. In late spring, the roads open and you can visit more places.
If you want to see the whole park, you have two routes (opens depending on weather), each leading to a different plateau, Wetherill Mesa on the right Chaplin Mesa on the left. There are Indian ruins along both trails, and at the end of each trial, you can take a trip to the cliffs with a park ranger. While the first cliff dwelling tours do not begin until early May, many of the cliff dwellings can be viewed from various overlooks, including Cliff Palace and Spruce Tree House.
There are short and easy routes, friendly to families with young kids, along the viewpoints.
The best choices of accommodation you will find are in Cortez and Durango. In Cortez Retro Inn at Mesa Verde is a nice place. After visiting the park, stop in Cortez. La Casita offers great Mexican cuisine. Pippos Cafe serves excellent American food.
–Recommended by Agnes of The Van Escape
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah is a wonderful place to explore in the springtime- the weather is cool, pleasant, and dry (perfect for hiking!), the desert wildflowers are in bloom, and given the crowds of summer have yet to descend, you may be able to snag trails all to yourself! While Arches National Park gets most of the attention in Moab, Canyonlands certainly stands on its own, with red rock mesas floating thousands of feet above the desert floor below. While you’re here, be sure to check out the Mesa Arch, a 0.7 mile walk suitable for all hikers to a natural arch carved in the sandstone. The arch is perched on a cliff- through its window, you’ll see the stunning rock formations miles and miles away, carved over millennia by water and wind. If you come at sunrise, you’ll get to see the bottom of the arch glow fiery red as the sun rises in the desert sky. Canyonlands is also home to some incredible viewpoints, like the Green River Overlook, which provides you a glimpse at one of the mighty flowing waters that carved these walls, or the Grand View Point, which provides breathtaking vistas over a canyon formed by the Colorado River. While you’re visiting Canyonlands, it’s absolutely worth checking out the nearby town of Moab, which offers a unique mix of artsy vibes with Western gruffness. Consider a stay at the Archway Inn, for a moderately-priced yet cozy hotel with great proximity to Moab’s charming downtown- and make sure you hit up the Moab Garage Co., a quirky and hip cafe dishing up some seriously good coffee and food.
–Recommended by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler
Biscayne National Park
One of the best national parks to visit in the spring is Biscayne National Park in southern Florida. The park is unique in that it is made up of 95% water. It is a beautiful park with small keys surrounded by turquoise blue water. It is home to beautiful reefs making it a great place to go snorkeling.
Biscayne National Park is about 55 minutes from downtown Miami. Miami or the northern part of the Keys are the best places to stay when visiting Biscayne National Park. Homestead is a small town just outside the park.
Spring is a great time to visit this national park because you will avoid hurricane season and it is also less likely you will run into rainstorms during this time of year. The months with the best weather are January – May.
There is a small visitor center and a few short walking paths and the rest of the park is water. A great way to explore the park if you don’t have your own boat, kayak, or paddleboard is with a tour from the Biscayne National Park Institute.
They offer a variety of tours ranging from snorkeling to paddle boarding, to the Heritage Cruise. If you’re visiting with young kids or don’t want to get in the water, the Heritage Cruise is a fantastic option. The tour will take you to some of the historic places in the park and you will get to explore one of the keys for an hour or so.
Biscayne National Park is one of the best places to go snorkeling in the United States. There is a very large reef, perfect for exploring. There is no snorkeling from the shore so if you want to snorkel you will need to go out on a boat.
–Recommended by Candice of CS Ginger
Grand Canyon National Park
Nestled amidst expansive and unspoiled desert terrain is the renowned Grand Canyon National Park. Considered home to one of the seven wonders of the world, it’s here, in northwestern Arizona, that this scenic national park brims with some of the most breathtaking landscapes known to man.
It’s during the springtime months that the park strikes a brilliant balance between thinned crowds of tourists and its most temperate weather; having left behind the snowy conditions of winter and is yet to reach the scorching temperatures of summer. Visiting during this unique shoulder period means having the same great opportunity to explore, but with a massive reduction in traffic. Beyond the intimacy that traveling here during the springtime can bring, you can also expect for the canyon and surrounding area to be abloom with colorful wildflowers, and more ample opportunity to witness calving season amongst the local wildlife, such as the big horned sheep or native javelinas. For the most up-close-and-personal method of appreciating the Grand Canyon National Park’s flora and fauna, consider either a day or overnight hike down into the canyon itself, such as the famed Bright Angel Trail. Given the challenging nature of hiking in this region, just ensure you have taken all necessary precautions in packing and preparing for a hike of this caliber prior to tackling it!
For a wilderness experience you won’t soon forget, consider camping at either the Mather, Desert View or North Rim campsite, where you can fall asleep under a vast network of stars. For a more luxury experience, instead consider the esteemed El Tovar hotel, which is often referred to as “the crown jewel” of historic national park lodging!
–Recommended by Natasha Karcz of Planes, Trains and Karcz
Arches National Park
The unique red rock formations and sandstone arches in Arches National Park are absolutely stunning. Driving into the National Park, you will feel like you’ve arrived on another planet.
Spring is the best time to visit Arches National Park. The weather is great and the snow-covered mountains in the distance make an incredible backdrop behind the red rocks.
New for the spring of 2022, the National Park will be requiring timed reservations to access the park. Plan ahead to make sure there is a spot available on the day and time you want to visit Arches.
Double Arch is one of the best family-friendly hikes in Arches National Park. It is only a half of a mile to the base of Double Arch with little to no elevation gain. Once you reach the arches, the gigantic rocks at the base make a natural playground for little ones to climb on.
The town of Moab is just a few miles from the entrance of Arches National Park. Moab has many different lodging options from high-end resorts to affordable motels and a variety of vacation rentals. There are also plenty of camping options in and around Moab.
Moab Food Truck Park is a great dining option for families. With all of the different food trucks, it is easy for everyone to find something they want to eat. There are also games to play while you wait for your food.
You can’t go wrong with a visit to Arches National Park in the spring.
–Recommended by Diane of Travels with Eli
Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve
Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve is the largest national park in the United States and is located in Alaska. It’s one of the most impressive and remote national parks in the country to visit, so if you’re looking to get away from it all it makes a great destination.
The best time to visit is Spring into summer as the winter gets very cold for good hiking. The area of Kennicott and Root Glacier is the main area to head to and the tiny settlement of McCarthy is the best place to base yourself. In McCarthy, the Ma Johnsons Hotel is a good place to stay and offers food also.
Hiking to the Root Glacier is a great half-day hike from McCarthy that is easy to do with children and makes the best hiking option to do. However, if you plan to get on the glacier itself then bring crampons for the ice and it may not be suitable for younger children.
It is around a 6-7 hours drive to reach McCarthy from Anchorage with your own car (you can rent one in Anchorage) and there is also a shuttle service bus that can take you there.
–Recommended by Jonny of Backpacking Man
Petrified Forest National Park
In Northeast Arizona, close to the border with New Mexico, lies the beautiful and unique Petrified Forest National Park. It’s a heaven for fans of archeology, paleontology and ecology. The park harbors the world famous petrified logs, the Painted desert, ancient petroglyphs, pueblos and Route 66 memorabilia.
Spring is the perfect time to visit Petrified Forest. In Summer temperatures can rise above 100°F and in Winter they can drop below freezing. Spring is already warm, but not yet hot and doesn’t have the violent thunder-storms that can occur in the Summer. Crowds are also still less, with Summer being the busiest season. Further, Spring is also when the wildflower season starts.
The perfect way to discover the park is to drive the 28-mile road that leads through the park. Stop at all the viewpoints and undertake all or a few of the 7 walking trails starting at them. This way you will get a good overview of the park and see a little bit of all it has to offer.
All the 7 walking trails are suitable for families, opposite to the 9 backcountry trails the park also offers. For instance the 0.4 mile loop Giant logs trail is perfect for kids. Starting point is the Rainbow Forest Museum. This trail has the most colorful and largest petrified logs, such as the 10 feet wide Old Faithful log.
The Best Western Arizonian Inn at Holbrook or the Historic WigWam Motel are great places to stay at. Great choices for dinner or lunch are the Mesa Italiana restaurant in Holbrook or the Painted Desert Diner at the North entrance, just off Interstate 40.
–Recommended by Cosette of Kars Travels
Shenandoah National Park
Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park inspires with natural beauty in spring across mountain vistas, rolling green hills and bucolic landscapes. As the temperatures warm and wildflowers begin to bloom, wild geraniums, pink lady’s slippers and violets start to line the hiking trails.
Motor along the park’s famed 105-mile Skyline Drive that snakes north to south across the park. More than 75 overlooks and pull-offs implore visitors to stop and revel in far-reaching views, including Spitler Knob Overlook (milepost 48) and Turk Mountain Overlook (milepost 93.5).
Across the park, there are dozens of kid-friendly hiking trails, like the fully-accessible Limberlost Trail and the Dark Hollow Falls Trail, which leads to one of the most popular waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park. In fact, more than 500 miles of trails criss-cross this national park.
There are two visitor centers along Skyline Drive: Dickey Ridge Visitor Center and Harry S. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center. Kids will want to pick up a Junior Ranger booklet to complete activities to earn a badge as a brand-new Junior Ranger.
Make it a weekend with a stay inside the park in a rustic cabin or modern guest room at one of two park lodges: Big Meadows Lodge or Skyland. Both lodges have a restaurant, outdoor terraces and easy access to popular hiking trails, like Little Stony Man Cliffs.
No visit to Shenandoah National Park is complete without sampling the park’s signature mile-high blackberry ice cream pie at either of the in-park restaurants. Heavenly.
–Recommended by Erin Gifford of Go Hike Virginia
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain is a perfect national park to visit in spring thanks to its proximity to Denver and small crowds before the summer season.
Although there’s still plenty of snow here in spring because of the high elevation, you can still explore many trails at the lower altitude all without sharing them with too many people.
One of the best family friendly hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park is a 1.7-mile Alberta Falls that brings you to a stunning waterfall that drops from thirty-something feet.
When you get close, you will have a chance to feel the light myst, as the trail gets you near the bottom of the waterfall.
The trailhead to Alberta Falls begins at Glacier Gorge Junction along Bear Lake Road and can get busy on weekends.
Still make sure to visit more trails. Take a hike or two to enjoy the colors, and if you plan on doing a more challenging trail at a higher altitude, make sure to bring some layers.
Temperatures begin to drop in the fall, and it’s a good idea to bring a jacket with you, especially if you plan on camping here.
There are no hotels within the park, and most visitors who come here spend the night in Estes Park, a town just outside RMNP where you can find plenty of stores and restaurants.
Many of these parks listed in this article could be combined into one trip for an awesome west coast national parks itinerary.
-Recommended by Daria of The Discovery Nut
Saguaro National Park
The best time to visit Saguaro National Park is in the spring, when the desert temperatures are not too hot for hiking. As a bonus, in late April and early May, the saguaro cactus start to bloom, creating a wonderland you must experience to believe. Wildlife also love the spring temperatures, so they are more active.
Saguaro National Park is located in southern Arizona. The Tucson Mountain District (west side) and the Rincon Mountain District (east side) are separated by the city of Tuscon.
The park is known for the majestic saguaro cactus, which can only be found in the Sonoran Desert. You can get amazing close-up views of the cactus right from your car on one of the scenic drives. Try the Bajada Loop Drive on the west or the Cactus Forest Drive on the east side. Both are close to visitor centers where you can grab a brochure.
You’ll find a variety of short, family-friendly hikes on both of the scenic drives. A favorite is the Wild Dog Trail because it is a reasonably level 2 mile hike through fields of cactus. Although spring is much cooler than summer, it will still be hot, with daytime temperatures as high as 90F, so take precautions before hiking in the heat.
With both Saguaro NP Districts nestled against the busy city of Tuscon, it is easy to find a variety of lodging and camping opportunities. The Gilbert Ray Campground near The Tuscon Mountain District promises fantastic sunsets and hiking just outside your door. Or, if you prefer a luxury experience, Tuscon is home to dozens of golf resorts complete with gorgeous hotels.
-Recommended by Ladona of Walking the Parks
Redwood National Park
With fewer crowds, rising temperature, minimal rain, and blooming wildflowers, Redwood National Park is undoubtedly one of the best National Parks to visit in the US. The average low temperature in Redwood in spring is 48 F, whereas the average high is 70 F. It’s also a great time to visit Redwood NP for bird watching. Located on the northwest Pacific Coast of California, this popular national park offers plenty of things to do during spring.
The Coastal Trail is one of the most popular backpacking trails in Redwood National Park. This 70 miles long trail goes along the coastal line and connects three parks: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Redwood National Park. To get the best view of this coastal trail, hike from Crescent Beach Overlook to Enderts Beach. Crescent Beach itself is one of the most beautiful dog-friendly beaches in Northern California. You can enjoy surfing and beach walking with your dog on this beach.
Redwood National Park offers plenty of scenic drives. You can drive through the old-growth redwood grove at Newton B. Drury scenic parkway. You can see skyscraping redwoods and various trails on the way. Howland Hill Road and Bald Hills Road also offer amazing views of the redwood forest. Spring is the best time to watch birds and wildlife. Keep your eyes open to spot the Roosevelt elks that live in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
You won’t find any hotels or lodges inside the park. You can camp on Gold Bluff Beach if you want to stay inside the park. If you are looking for hotels or cabins, you have to stay in nearby cities like Eureka, Klamath, and Crescent City. You can stay in Carter House Inn which is a Victorian-style home located in Eureka city.
Recommended by Trijit Mallick of Dog Travel Buff
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the US. It’s also one of the most popular, especially in summer. The main section of the park is centered around Zion Canyon. Unlike most canyons which you see from the rim, Zion is mostly accessed along the floor of the canyon. Spring, when there are fewer people and when the weather isn’t too hot, is the perfect time to go. This also when all the beautiful waterfalls are flowing – most of them usually dry up by the summer.
There are plenty of incredible hikes in the national park. A highlight is the hike to Emerald Pools. There are several interconnected trails that go to beautiful emerald-colored pools. The pools are connected by a couple of waterfalls that are their best in spring. The trails range from the easy, wheelchair accessible trail to the Lower Pool, to the moderate trail to the Middle pools, and the more challenging (short but steep) hike up to the Upper pool, so there is something for the whole family to try.
If you have kids who are a little older, they will also love hiking into The Narrows – a hike in a river though a narrow slot canyon. It’s closed due to high water in early spring, but is perfect in late spring when the weather – and water – have warmed up.
There is a lodge in the middle of the canyon, but most people stay in Springdale, which is just outside the main entrance to the park. A lovely place is Flanigan’s Inn. They have rooms set around a lovely landscaped garden, an outdoor pool, a spa and the Spotted Dog Café, so you can get dinner right there.
-Recommended by James Ian of Parks Collecting
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park is a unique environment of bluffs and spires located in western South Dakota. Its geologic formations cover more than 244,000 acres and represent millennia of the earth’s evolution. The park also preserves sections of prairie that used to cover the Great Plains. Badlands is great to visit in the spring because the temperatures are milder during the day, with an average high of 62 degrees F in April and 72 in May. However, if you plan on camping, be prepared to bundle up. It gets down to the mid-30s and -40s at night.
A family-friendly hike and one that’s good for all ages is the Fossil Exhibit Trail. It’s a short quarter of a mile and is lined with interpretive signs. Door Trail is longer, but it’s still easy and provides a fantastic view of the Badlands. One of the coolest things about this park is that it has an Open Hike policy. This means you aren’t required to stay on the trail. However, this is definitely at your own risk since the park is populated by snakes, bison, and other dangerous wild animals.There’s only one place to buy food in Badlands National Park, and that’s at Cedar Pass Lodge Restaurant. You can get snacks or sit down for a full meal. In addition to primitive camping in Sage Creek Campground and sites with hook-ups at Cedar Pass, there are also seasonal cabins for rent. Those open mid-April.
–Recommended by Theresa L. Goodrick of The Local Tourist
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Anyone looking for a springtime adventure like no other should plan a visit to Colorado’s most unique beach that shows up just once a year. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is already a must-see destination with the seemingly endless dune fields to explore, but spring is an especially perfect time to visit the park. While the nights are still chilly, the sun is not yet harsh enough to heat the sand to uncomfortable temperatures. Rent a sandboard to sled down the dunes or hike to Star Dune, the tallest dune in North America. For a more accessible trail, hike to Zapata Falls, where you can cool off in the creek on warmer days.
Spring is also when snowmelt from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains makes its way down to the base of the dunes. As the rush of water hits the underwater sand ridges, it creates gentle beach-like waves that provide countless hours of fun for the entire family. It’s one of the few places in the world to experience the unique surge flow at Colorado’s seasonal beach. Pack up your tubes, floats, and skimboards and head to Colorado for an unforgettable experience.
If you plan early enough, getting a campsite at Piñon Flats Campground in the park is the perfect spot to stay during your getaway. Otherwise, nearby Alamosa, CO, has plenty of hotels for your stay.
-Recommended by Kiersten of Hiking in my Flip Flops
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Parkis one of the most popular national parks, attracting nearly 4 million visitors annually. If you want to experience it from an entirely new perspective, though, visit in the spring.
The vast majority of Grand Teton’s visitors come between June and August (a whopping 2,296,861 of 3.8 million total in 2021!), so it feels like you have the park all to yourself in the spring “shoulder season.”
The lack of crowds is just one of many reasons why spring is so great in GTNP. During this season, visitors have the unique opportunity to snowshoe or cross-country ski through the park. Teton Park Road is closed to vehicles from the Taggart Lake trailhead to Signal Mountain Lodge between November 1 through April 30.
Taggart Lake happens to be one of the most popular trails in Grand Teton National Park, and it’s also one of the most family-friendly hikes. The scenery is breathtaking (especially under a blanket of snow!) and it’s just three miles roundtrip on a well-maintained trail.
April and May, in particular, are excellent times to visit GTNP for spotting tons of wildlife. As the weather warms up, animals emerge from hibernation and spend more time out and about. This is also the time of year when animals have their babies!
As an added bonus, Grand Teton is close to Yellowstone National Park, which has even more epic springtime wildlife viewing opportunities!
One thing to keep in mind about GTNP in the spring is that in-park lodging is not available (all the options open for the season in May and June). However, there are tons of excellent hotels in the nearby town of Jackson. Cowboy Village Resort is one of the best for families, with log cabins at a budget-friendly pricepoint.
-Recommended by Taryn of Chasing Travel
Sequoia National Park
While Sequoia is most often thought of as a summer destination, Spring is one of the most beautiful times to visit the national park and brings a fraction of the crowds. In fact, daily park visits double between March and May!
During early Spring, days are cool and nights are chilly. You may be lucky enough to find snow still on the ground beneath the groves of Giant Sequoias, which is a truly magical sight to behold! Sequoia’s popular Giant Forest region is accessible this time of year (as well as neighboring King Canyon’s Grant Grove area), but it’s still important to check for road closures in advance of your visit.
By early May, days tend to get warmer and more remote areas of the park like Cedar Grove become accessible. A number of trails and campgrounds also open for the season. Best of all, wildflower season arrives in the Sequoia foothills, with marigolds, redbud trees and California poppies on full display.
When visiting Sequoia in Spring, be sure not to miss favorites like the General Sherman Tree or the Giant Forest Museum.
Big Trees Trail is also an easy 1.3 mile loop that’s perfect for children. It edges around Round Meadow through groves of Giant Sequoias and features educational placards describing the trees and their history.
Wolverton Snow Area is another must if visiting in early Spring when there’s still snow on the ground – especially if you have kids in tow!
In terms of Sequoia lodging, Wuksachi Lodge is generally open year-round and John Muir Lodge is open seasonally between late March and October. For those prepared to camp (remember, Spring nights are nippy!), Azalea Campground is open year-round and Lodgepole Campground usually opens in March or April.
-Recommended by Jenna of Up and Away Magazine
Pinnacles National Park
Looking for a great national park to visit in the spring? Consider Pinnacles National Park in Central California!
Spring weather in the park is perfect for hiking: daytime highs range from 65 degrees in March to 78 degrees in May. Spring is also the season when wildflower bloom in Pinnacles National Park is at its peak: you will see dozens of varieties of wildflowers as you hike in the park, especially in April.
Pinnacles National Park is famous for its volcanic spires and its talus caves. It has over 30 miles of trails, and as there is no road that runs through the park, hiking is the best way to explore it.
The Bear Gulch Trail is a short and relatively family-friendly hike in Pinnacles National Park. The total distance is 1.5 miles, with an elevation change of about 275 feet. As the hike includes Bear Gulch Cave, you will need a flashlight or headlamp if you choose to explore the cave. You can also choose to take the path that goes over the cave.
Pinnacles National Park has one campground, by the east entrance near Hollister, or there are chain motels in the town of Hollister in the east and Soledad in the west.
The Windmill Restaurant at Valley Harvest Inn in Soledad is a great place to eat near the park. If you enter from the east, dining options are not available close to the park, so pack a picnic lunch. The park store carries a few food items.
-Recommended by Dhara of Roadtripping California
Yellowstone National Park
Established in 1827, Yellowstone National Park is the oldest national park in the United States, and a great national park in the US west coast for families to visit in the spring. At Yellowstone families can see wildlife such as bison, elk, bears, and wolves, and observe geothermal activities like geysers and hot springs.
Although not everything in Yellowstone National Park will be open in the spring months, there are some areas around the Mammoth Hot Springs that will be open. Be aware that in early spring, you will likely come across some road closures for snow, but most roads should be open by the end of the spring.
In mid-March to mid-June, you’ll be able to enjoy some hiking and backpacking. Bears and other animals will emerge from hibernation, and you may spot some bison and elk calves. Remember, when visiting Yellowstone National Park, ALWAYS be respectful of the rules of the park. The animals at the park are wild animals, so always stay a safe distance away.
For families visiting Yellowstone National Park in the spring, the area that will be open for hiking is Mammoth Hot Springs and Madison Area. The Harlequin Lake Trail is a short 30-60 minute hike that leads up to a lake. And families can also enjoy the Mammoth Hot Springs Trail and the Wraith Falls Trail, both of which are less than 90 minutes. For 2-3 hour hikes, try the Bunsen Peak Trail or the Lava Creek Trail.
After a day of hiking and enjoying nature, head over to the Old Faithful Lodge, Canyon Lodge, or Mammoth Terrace Grill. Food service ranges from cafeteria-style dining to sit-down service.
-Recommended by Astrid of The Wandering Daughter
Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National Park might not get the accolades of some other national parks, but that’s what makes it a hidden gem – especially in the spring! Spring conditions in Great Basin can vary, well, greatly, but you can explore awesome sights, no matter the weather.
You‘ll find a plethora of hiking trails in Great Basin, and if it’s still super snowy in the spring, you can always strap on some snowshoes to explore. There are trails for all levels, including short loops that wind through conifer forests and ancient bristlecone groves and more strenuous hikes, like summitting Wheeler Peak at 13,044 feet.
One of the highlights of Great Basin National Park is Lehman Caves, which are open year-round so you can take shelter from spring rain or snow if you need to. These incredible caves consist of jaw-dropping limestone formations, and you can marvel at the stalactites and stalagmites on a ranger-guided tour. The tours make for a fantastic family-friendly hike, but reservations are required. The tours do tend to sell out, but you’ll have a much better chance of snagging a tour spot in spring when the park is less busy.
-Recommended by Allison of She Dreams of Alpine
Haleakala National Park
Hawaii has some pretty spectacular national parks but it’s hard to beat Haleakala National Park on Maui. It’s especially nice in the Spring because the weather is less rainy and the skies are usually clear. The drive through Upcountry Maui on your way to Haleakala is really beautiful with rolling green hills and sweeping ocean views. Then, when you enter Haleakala National Park, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto Mars. The whole park is covered with lava rock in different shades of red and grey. The best trail for families is Hosmer Grove. It’s only a half mile long and it’s more of a nature walk with places to sit and have lunch or a snack. There’s a nice visitor’s center where you can ask park rangers for suggestions about the best hikes for your family or grab a Junior Ranger booklet to earn a badge. While there are several vacation rental homes in the area, the most famous place to stay is Kula Lodge. It’s also a really popular place to go for breakfast after watching the sunrise from Haleakala Crater. If you aren’t able to secure a reservation to see the sunrise at Haleakala, you can always take one of the many Haleakala sunrise tours. Or, head up there for sunset, where reservations aren’t required. However you spend your time at Haleakala National Park, just know that you’re in a very unique and special place.
-Recommended by Marcie of Hawaii Travel with Kids
New River Gorge National Park & Preserve
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is home to one of the oldest rivers in the world the New River. And during the spring, this park turns into a vibrant green playground.
There are plenty of things to do in New River Gorge for families and it’s a perfect 2-3 day stop when visiting the not-to-be-missed state of West Virginia.
This newly named National Park is known for the gorgeous New River Bridge, rock climbing, hiking, and some of the best white water rafting in the United States.
And if you are up for an adventure, spring is one of the best times to raft the New River. Local outfitters have trips for both adventurous adults and kids and it’s an adrenaline-pumping activity you won’t forget.
There are also many easy to moderate hiking trails in the New River Gorge that take you through beautiful mountain flora to gorgeous vistas overlooking the gorge. Both the Endless Wall Trail (2.4 miles) and the Long Point Trail (3.2 miles) are great options for families.
Other fun family activities in the New River Gorge are exploring the abandoned coal mines such as Nuttalburg or getting a unique view of the New River Bridge by doing the Bridgewalk tour. There are plenty of State Parks located around the New River Gorge National Park and they are a perfect place to crash after a day of exploring. Many of these parks have lodges, like Hawks Nest State Park, so you don’t have to camp if you don’t want to.
-Recommended by Melody of The Winding Road Tripper
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park, so deep in west Texas that it offers a border crossing into Mexico, is the perfect national park for a spring visit. You’ll find the best weather of the year and Big Bend bluebonnets blooming all around. While spring can be the busiest time of year at the park, it’s still one of the least-visited parks in the continental US so it won’t feel packed.
On opposite ends of the park are two wonderful family-friendly hikes, Santa Elena Canyon and Boquillas Canyon. Santa Elena is the more challenging of the two but it’s also the more popular and iconic. Boquillas doesn’t offer quite the same visual drama but has its own brand of magic and tranquility that families shouldn’t miss.
Due to the expansive size of Big Bend and the diverse range of areas to explore, staying in the center of the park offers ideal access. There’s a large campground and a full-featured lodge in the Chisos Basin, which also features a restaurant, convenience store and small ranger station. The park’s gas station and main visitors center are also nearby.
Due to Big Bend’s remote nature and wide range of activities, you’ll want to plan for at least three days in the park – four would be even better. Be sure to read through these Big Bend trip logistics before your visit to prepare for your lengthy stay in one of America’s most special places!
-Recommended by Melissa of The Family Voyage
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is one of the best National Parks in the country. With 2400 square miles to cover, there is plenty to do for everyone. In fact, the park is very popular with families as well as couples and friends.
This National Park should be added to everyone’s bucket list no matter the time of year. However, for those who want to experience the rainforest and wildlife at their best, a trip to Olympic National Park in Spring is a must.
For a hiking trail suitable for all the family. Head to Sol Duc Falls. The trail is easy and at only two miles it is perfect for little feet as well. The trail begins near the Hot Springs and Resort Car Park.
The trail is great for everyone to spot some wildlife and with trees all around, it is wonderful to experience the rainforest first hand. At the end of the trail, the small waterfall is a welcome sight and the wooden bridge gives the perfect vantage point to see it and spot one of the rainbows.
Lake Quaint Lodge is a great place to stay near the park. Not only is the location good, but the facilities include a kitchenette which is perfect for families who want to cook some meals. If visitors decide on a more formal evening out, The Springs Restaurant at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort has a range of dishes for all of the family.
-Recommended by Karen of Travel Mad Mum
Death Valley National Park
One of the best places to visit in the Spring is Death Valley National Park. This park is one of the hottest places in the USA, so that is why Spring is a fantastic time to visit. One of the best places to stay in the park is The Inn At Death Valley, and it has the best restaurant in the park. It is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the hot desert.
One of the best things to do is to visit Zabriskie point for sunrise. You will be met with many photographers because it is a stunning place to take photos. After sunrise, hike the Golden Canyon, Gower Gulch, and Badlands Loop Hike. Bring plenty of water and a map because there is not much shade on this trail. The best views on the trail are located at the top of the Red Cathedral!
Another popular thing to do would be to explore the Badwater Basin. This is the lowest point in the United States, and the basin is filled with salt. The beautiful vast white sand in contrast with the mountains in the distance makes this a fantastic place for photography, and it is relatively easy to explore.
–Recommended by Michelle of The Wandering Queen
Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is a truly unique park to visit in the spring, and one of the best things to do in Big Island Hawaii. The park offers a glimpse of living next to an active volcano, and some parts of the park are even covered in dried black lava from previous eruptions. Start your visit at the Kilauea Visitor Center, where you can speak with rangers and get a lay of the park before you begin adventuring. You can easily see the best of the park in 2 days (one if you start super early and are highly motivated).
The park offers some great family- friendly hikes. Don’t miss the Ha’akulamanu (Sulphur Banks) & Steam Vents hike, which is an easy flat walk along wooden walkways that is also wheelchair accessible. Another popular hike is the Crater Rim Trail, which is a fairly easy flat walk along the Kilauea Caldera that provides some great lookout points over the caldera. And the kids might particularly enjoy the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs Trail which leads to images artfully etched in stone. If your family isn’t feeling motivated to hike, you can still enjoy so much of the park’s highlights by driving around and stopping at the many lookout points.The nearest town is Volcano Village which has a few dining and accommodation options. If you prefer to stay somewhere with more options, Hilo is the largest city about 30 miles north of the park. There you will find larger hotels and a lot of restaurants. Be sure to bring a raincoat, plenty of layers, plenty of water and snacks, and be sure to fill up your gas tank before entering the park because there is no gas station in the park.
–Recommended by Sumeeta of Sumeeta Seeks
National Park vacations in the spring are a great option for solo, family, or adult vacations. If you haven’t already, add a National Park to your spring break or spring vacation plans! Do you have a National Park that you recommend visiting in the spring? Leave your comments below!