25+ Best National Parks to Visit in the Spring

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Looking for a National Park to visit in the Spring? We asked fellow travel bloggers for their opinions on the best National Parks to visit in the spring, and I think you’ll be delighted with the recommendations. From mountainous Glacier National Park in the U.S. to the tropical parks of Hawaii and Australia, to the unique boardwalk laden park of Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. We’ve rounded up ideas for all tastes and interests. I hope you find a new adventure for your National Park spring vacation!

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Best National Parks in Spring

Visiting a National Park in the spring can be a great alternative to the summer or winter seasons. Less tourist, typically cheaper accommodations, can mean a more affordable and more enjoyable vacation. Check out these worldwide destination ideas for visiting the National Parks in the spring.

United States & Caribbean

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Spring in the Smokies is like walking into a fairyland. Wildflowers are in bloom along the trails, butterflies are abundant and the soft green of new leaves surround you. With over 1500 black bears in the park, you are almost certain to spot a mama with her cub as you explore this vast wilderness.

April and May bring perfect hiking weather with daytime temperatures in the mid 60s. The paved 2.3 mile round trip hike to the 80 foot high Laurel Falls is the perfect hike to start your visit to the Smokies. On warm days you’re sure to find children playing in the water at the end of the hike. The Laurel Falls hike does have a couple steep sections with drop offs so keep your kids close. The trail head is a couple miles west of Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Join the Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage the last week of April. During this week, you can join hikes guided by professional naturalists from the local universities. Or head off on your own wildflower hike along the Kephart Prong Trail. This fairly flat trail is adorned by millions of wildflowers. You’ll find the remnants of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp an interesting stop along the trail.

With 10 semi rustic campgrounds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park bedding down with in the park is a great opportunity to get away from it all. The gateway towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge welcome you into Great Smoky Mountain National Park with a plethora of lodging options ranging from cozy private cabins to traditional motels. Some find these communities a bit touristy, but most enjoy the stark contrast, lively atmosphere and great eating just outside the entrance to the park.

-Ladona of Walking the Parks

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park is an intriguing park to visit, but it is one of my favorite national parks to visit in the spring.  When the trees begin sprouting their new leaves, it gives the park a crisp green color, but the foliage still allows visitors to see and fully appreciate the unique karst topography above ground, with its sinkholes, ridges and waterfalls.  If the weather happens to take on a chill, it is no worry, as the cave itself maintains a constant year-round temperature.  

The highlight of Mammoth Cave National Park is the cave itself, which is the longest known cave system in the world, with over 400 miles of explored passages.  There are several different cave tours, each with a different focus and underground scenery. I recommend taking more than one, but the Frozen Niagara Tour should be one of your choices.

There are 85 miles of trails in the park that span all levels of difficulty, and take in a variety of scenery, from sinkholes, riverbeds, ridge-tops, historic buildings and cemeteries.  All trails are available for hikers, and some are also designated for horseback riding and mountain biking. The Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail is a relatively easy trail for families, both stroller and wheelchair friendly with its level concrete surface.  It passes near the visitor’s center, the historic train cars, and some scenic overlooks.

We stay right in the park when we visit, as there are several campgrounds, a lodge, and private cabins available.  The lodge has all the comforts of a hotel, but my grandchildren prefer the more primitive cabins. We never leave the park during our stays, since Spelunker’s Cafe and the Green River Grille are located right at the visitor’s center.  Green River Grille features delicious Kentucky farm fresh fare at quite reasonable prices.

-Roxanna of Gypsy With a Day Job

Frozen Niagara, Mammoth Cave National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is my favorite Eastern-United States park and is a great National Park to visit in the spring. May and June are beautiful times to visit Acadia as the crowds are thin, the weather is cold, but not frigid, and you’ll get to see the park come into bloom.

The main road, Park Loop Road, officially opens around Easter; however, it typically actually opens a few weeks later. Even if you can’t drive the entire road, portions of it will be open. Additionally, you can hike or bike up the road.

Stay in Bar Harbor, if you can; it’s a quaint, charming little town, with tons of character. There’s a variety of accommodation types; however, the common thread with all of them is to book early, if you can. Bar Harbor (yes, the entire town) can sell out.

While in Bar Harbor, stroll around town and take in the rows of shops. Next, walk out to Bar Island during low tide. Bar Harbor island is about one mile across the bay from Bar Harbor town, and during low tide, a sand bar is exposed that allows people to walk over to the island. The island is technically part of Acadia National Park and has a few hiking trails. Be sure to be back before the tide comes in, or you’ll be stuck on the island for a few hours.

-Catherine of Traveling with the Littles

Monument Cove, Acadia National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is without a doubt one of the best National Parks in the United States, if not the best. What is the best time to visit this paradise in the Montana wilderness? Spring! In Springtime Glacier will not be full of tourists, will have a beautiful blanket of snow on the mountain peaks, and offers unique ways to experience the park!

Being a premiere National Park, Glacier can get busy during the summer. Thousands of people visit each day, and the best way to avoid all the rush is to go in the Spring! In Spring the weather can be beautiful, even getting up in the 60s, which makes for perfect hiking
weather. As for hikes inside the park, Avalanche Lake will be an ideal family-friendly hike with a jaw-dropping view at the end. Along the way, you’ll drive by Lake McDonald, the biggest lake in Glacier and one that is perfectly reflective on still days. We recommend going in
the morning since the lake will be perfectly still and give a mirror-like reflection of the mountain and skies beyond the lake.

During Spring, the Going-to-the-Sun road will likely be closed to cars. That can be seen as a negative, but it is also a positive if you are into biking! The road is open to bikes, and as one of the most beautiful roads on earth, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to bike the road without having to worry about cars driving by! As for
accommodation and food, Apgar Village is an ideal place to go throughout your time in Glacier. Do yourself a favor and head to Glacier this Spring for a wonderful adventure.

Zach & Julie Ruhl of Ruhls of the Road

Photo Credit: Ruhls of the Road

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is one of the quintessential U.S. vacations. Because of that, it can get stiflingly crowded at the park’s most popular spots during prime travel times, such as summer.

To better avoid that, go during the second half of spring. By then, the weather is warming up and much of the snow has melted, meaning more roads will be accessible. Best of all, you’ll be sharing the view of some of the top things to see in Yellowstone National Park, such as Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, and the wildlife-filled Lamar Valley, with far fewer people. The scenic viewpoints and hiking trails will also be less crowded, such as Uncle Tom’s Trail, a short family-friendly hike that leads to a prime viewing spot to take in the powerful majesty of Yellowstone Falls.

Going to Yellowstone in the spring also might mean finding a better deal on accommodations located within the park, such as the Old Faithful Inn, a hotel that is both conveniently located close to the famous geyser as well as being a historic part of the park. Campsites will also be easier to find availability for, though keep in mind if camping with little ones that it will likely still get quite chilly at night in Yellowstone National Park during the spring. 

-Gina of Travel Montana Now

Photo Credit: Travel Montana Now

Mt. Rainier National Park

From its pristine 360-degree views of Mount Rainier to its snow-covered hiking trails and peaks, Mount Rainier National Park is one of the most extraordinarily beautiful national parks in the United States. It’s home to a 14,410-foot active volcano that towers over the 369-square-mile national park, allowing you to catch a glimpse of its year-round snow-covered peak nearly anywhere in the park.

The park caters to everyone from families who bring along young children to the most intense multi-day backpackers seeking thrills. It offers plenty of waterfalls of all sizes, hiking trails that range from easy to strenuous, calm lakes that perfectly reflect during all hours of the day and meadows blooming with the most beautiful array of flowers you’ve ever seen.

During the spring, Mount Rainier National Park is a haven for adventurers from all over the world. But the best thing about visiting during spring (and into summer) is its 60-mile distance from the nearest major airport, the sheer volume of land the park encompasses and nearby national parks and forests. These three factors mean there will likely be far fewer tourists in springtime than many other national parks in the U.S.

One of the easiest hikes with the best payoff view is by far Tipsoo Lake, a reflecting lake with calm waters just 5 miles from the base of Mount Rainier. It only requires a short 10-minute walk from the parking lot and offers one of the best views of the volcanic Rainier.

The next best hike is in the Paradise district, which offers a splendid hike up the side of Mount Rainier and one of the only restaurants in the entire park, the Paradise Inn Restaurant. There are many trails to choose from when leaving the Paradise Visitor Center, so there’s a hike that caters to everyone’s skill level.

-Jarrod of Ramble Around the World

Photo Credit: Ramble Around the World

Crater Lake

Visitors that make their way to Crater Lake National Park will find some of the clearest fresh water in the world and have the chance to take a dip in the deepest lake in the United States of America (1,943ft/595m). Once the snow melts after a grueling winter, the wildflowers begin to bloom, and the waterfalls fill to capacity, making it the perfect family outing in the spring!

Hiking: The easiest way to experience the beauty of Crater Lake is to drive around the famed Rim Road, but there’s much more to explore beyond this 33-mile loop. For a family-friendly hiking excursion, be sure to check out Plaikni Falls. An easy 2.2mile walk (round trip), the trail takes visitors through the old growth forest before reaching Sand Creek, ultimately culminating at the base of the waterfall. If you’re lucky, you’ll be greeted by hundreds of butterflies fluttering around the mist and flowers! Note that due to the ease and short distance of the trail, it can become quite congested during the afternoon so earlier is better.

Accommodation: There are two motels within the park that make it easy for visitors to stay overnight: the Crater Lake Lodge and Cabins at Mazama Village (you can learn more by visiting the NPS website). If camping is more your scene, then be sure to book a site at the Lost Creek Campground. Availability tends to disappear quickly, so be sure to plan ahead!

Restaurants: For a quick meal that keeps the bellies full for a day of adventure, stop by the Rim Village Café. With salads, sandwiches, and more, it’s easy to accommodate the entire family and the grab-and-go option makes it the perfect place to stock up on food for a picnic!

Whether hiking, biking, swimming, or simply driving, there’s something at Crater Lake National Park for everyone, so it won’t be hard to enjoy your stay!

-Chris of Toone’s Travel

Photo Credit: Toone’s Travels

Zion National Park

There’s a lot to love about Zion National Park. It’s got one-of-a-kind hikes. Epic scenic drives. The park is grand and spectacular and easy to appreciate for its sheer grandeur. But while it may be 590 km2, it’s also the fourth most visited national park in the US. That’s 4.3 million visitors EVERY year. Dodging the crowds at Zion can take a bit of effort, but I swear it pays off. By traveling in the spring, skipping some of the top things to do, and seeking out alternative hikes and viewpoints you can have a Zion experience that is both memorable and all your own.

For families traveling together, the hike to Observation Point via the East Mesa Trail (rather than from the Canyon) is one of the highest-reward-to-effort hikes of all. Since you’ll have to drive to the East side of the park, you’ll get a relatively flat hike and an incredible view of Angel’s Landing and Zion Canyon all to yourself. 

Another nice way to see the park is to head out early for your scenic drive. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive winds 10km beneath the cliffs of Zion Canyon while the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway (Highway 9) has tons of great pull-offs where you can climb slickrock or hike to overlooks.

And the best campground for families is definitely Watchman. It’s a campsite that even non-campers can get into with comfortable sites and access to bathrooms with flush toilets. It’s conveniently located near the South entrance with quick access to Springdale if you don’t feel like camp cooking. And if you do, sites are spacious, and facilities include a picnic table and a fire pit.

-Taylor of Travel Outlandish

Photo Credit: Travel Outlandish

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is a great park to visit in the Spring.  In the summer it gets very hot and there is no shade in the park, so spring is the perfect time to visit without having the unbearable heat.  Spring too is a time when the flowers start to bloom and the leaves start to open on the trees and the park starts to get some colour.

Canyonlands has many points with overlooks and there are many places to pull in and see the amazing views of the canyons without the need to do any hiking.

An easy and family friendly hike starts at the Grand View Point Overlook where you can walk 2 miles along the rim of the canyon.  You need to watch the kids very carefully though as there are long drop offs from the edge of the canyon and no fencing.

If you want a little harder of a climb and one that older children would love then try climbing Whale Rock.  This was one of my favourites and the view from the top is amazing, though in places you will need to scramble on your hands and knees and slide on your bum. 

It is best to stay in Moab when visiting Canyonlands as it is only 30 miles away, here there are many options of hotels/motels and great restaurants and plenty of supermarkets if you choose instead to camp in the park.

-Clare of I Live 4 Travel

Photo Credit: I Live 4 Travel

Capitol Reef National Park

Utah is home to the five fantastic national parks known as the Mighty Five. While I love each one for different things, one park I recommend to families is Capitol Reef National Park. It’s less popular than Zion National Park, Arches National Park or even Bryce Canyon National Park – but every bit as beautiful. And I’m all for exploring amazing landscapes away from shoulder-to-shoulder trails. 

In the springtime, Capitol Reef NP is a great vacation spot for families and offers a wide range of hikes for the varying skill levels. My three favorite hikes include the Grand Wash Trail, Hickman Bridge and Cassidy Arch. That said, Cassidy Arch is a more strenuous hike, but one with amazing views of the rolling rocks and landscapes of central Utah.

Hickman Bridge is a simple hike that offers a sense of accomplishment to younger kids – they hike to and from a large arch. The Grand Wash Trail is a narrow canyon (not quite a slot canyon) my kids and teens have enjoyed.

There are campsites available in the area, but if you prefer to check in to a lodge or hotel, there are some of those available as well. And after a long way exploring the trails, Red Cliff Restaurant in nearby Torrey, Utah, has some delicious pizza. Capitol Reef NP works as a quick day trip or a spring break getaway. Your family will love exploring the rocks, hills and streams throughout the park. 

-Jason of Carltonaut’s Travel Tips

Photo Credit: Carltonaut’s Travel Tips

Grand Canyon National Park

Is there ever a bad time to visit the Grand Canyon?  No, but visiting the Grand Canyon in Spring is one of the best times to visit.

In the spring, you will have over 12 hours of daylight a day to visit the Grand Canyon Viewpoints and I would suggest getting there early for sunrise and view it from Mathers Point.  Also, the entrance to the Grand Canyon is busiest from 10am to 4pm so if you don’t want to wait in the line I would suggest arriving before 10am.

Just to note though, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in closed until May 15th, but the South Rim is open year-round and is the more popular rim to visit.  It is a great time to take a hike in the canyon or go white water rafting.

Wondering how busy the Grand Canyon gets in Spring?  With spring break in late March/early April and sometimes Easter falling in April as well it makes it a great time to visit the Grand Canyon.  You will not have the same crowds as you would in summer, but it is much busier than visiting the Grand Canyon in Winter.

-Nicole of American SW Obsessed

Photo Credit: American SW Obsessed

Saguaro National Park

If you’re looking for the best national parks to visit in the spring, then you should add Saguaro National Park to the top of your list! This park is famous because of the grand and imposing Saguaro cacti that grow here, but there are also so many cool things to see and explore in this park.

While Saguaro is beautiful throughout the year, there are several reasons that make spring an ideal time to visit. First, you’ll find the weather to be warm but not so extremely hot (as in the summer, when you should not be out hiking during the day). But what makes this park even more ideal to visit during the spring is all the gorgeous colors and wildflower blooms! April is a particularly lovely time to see wildflowers, while the saguaros begin to blossom in mid-May.

While there are longer and more intense areas to hike, there are also a lot of family friendly hikes that are perfect to explore. One that is great to hike with any age is the short Desert Discovery Nature Trail, where you can see huge cacti while still wandering on a flat trail with some nice shade structures in case it gets too warm. Kids and adults alike will also love hiking up to see the petroglyphs on Signal Hill, so be sure to add this to your list as well!

There’s beauty everywhere here—and especially in the spring. So, add this park to your travel plans now and make sure you don’t miss exploring it this year!

-Abi of Happy Go Abi

Photo Credit: Happy Go Abi

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is a hidden gem in western Texas on the border of Mexico.  The park is a mixture of desert, river valley and mountains.  The park protects the entirety of the Chios Mountains, part of the Rio Grande, and the Chihuahuan Desert.  Due to the desert climate, this park is best visited in any season but the brutal summers. 

Spring is a special time in Big Bend.  The spring flowers bloom and fill the hillside with color.  The migrating birds.  Spring in the Big Bend is the perfect time for birders to visit the park.  The northern species are still visiting from their northern breeding grounds while tropical birds are arriving to start their breeding season. 

The spring weather brings in the cool morning and warm afternoon.  Plan to do your major hikes in the morning and leave the sightseeing to the afternoons. 

Big Bend offers a range of family-friendly hikes.  Both the Boquillas Canyon and Santa Elena Canyon trails are short trails with minimal elevation gain.  These hikes head into the 2,000 ft deep river carved canyons.  The trails follow the Rio Grande and provide views into Mexico. 

Spring, in particularly the month of March, is the busiest time in Big Bend.  If you are looking to stay at the Chisos Mountain Lodge or looking to guarantee a campsite, book as soon as possible.  The rooms and campsites fill up fast.  There are plenty of accommodation options in the town of Terlingua. 

Here is my guide to spending a week in Big Bend National Park.   

-Jennifer of National Park Obsessed

Photo Credit: National Park Obsessed

Death Valley National Park

One of the best national parks to visit in the Spring, is Death Valley, National Park. The main reason for this is because of the weather. Death Valley is one of the hottest places on Earth. It holds the world record for hottest temperature in the world; 134 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily in the Spring, the temperature can be more forgiving.

This national park is filled with phenomenal views and hikes. One of the most popular areas is Zabriskie Point. This a great place to experience the sunrise. The sun’s rays slowly creep up and you can spot the colors and formations of Zabriskie Point. It is a magical time. Just note that you won’t be the only one there!

A hike near Zabriskie Point is Golden Canyon, Gower Gulch, and Badlands Loop Hike. It is one of the most popular hikes in the park and for a good reason.  The trail is filled with many spiderweb-like formations and colorful mountains that have specs of blue, yellow, and pink. The views are astonishing. Just remember to bring some water with you.

Another great spot is the Badwater Basin. It is the lowest point in North America and stands at 282 feet below sea level. The basin is filled with salt, so all you see surrounding you is a vast white land with stunning mountains in the distance. It is an excellent spot for photography.

Death Valley is filled with so many unusual formations. It is one of the most impressive national parks I have ever visited, and it is a great place to visit during the Spring. Check out this one day itinerary for Death Valley National Park.

-Michelle of The Wandering Queen

Photo Credit: The Wandering Queen

Redwoods National & State Park

Looking for a springtime trip that’s unique and memorable?  Take your family to see the biggest trees on Earth! Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, located in Santa Cruz California is sure to please.  You’ll be in awe of the towering redwood trees all around you, and it’s even better in springtime when the wildflowers are in bloom.  

The atmosphere is peaceful and tranquil, but if you’re looking for a little more adventure you won’t be disappointed.  There are tons of hikes to choose from! Explore the Redwood Grove Loop Trail for a leisurely hike of less than a mile, or hike the Cape Horn Loop for a more adventurous 3.5 mile experience.   

Love to camp?  The Graham Hill Campground is only a 5-minute walk away from the Redwood Grove Loop Trail and the Visitor’s Center.  It’s also located near the Observation Deck (the highest point in the park).  

Another fascinating thing you can do is ride the Redwood Forest Steam Train.  It’s a 75 minute narrated tour that’s fun for all ages. They offer tours daily, and even have a train that will take you to the nearby Santa Cruz beach.  

To wrap up your day, check out Redwood Pizzeria.  This local spot has been serving up delicious food for almost 15 years and has lots of options (gluten-free, organic, etc.) in case anyone in your family has dietary restrictions.  They’re located basically right outside the park, so it’s easy to find and get to after a long day of exploring.

Did I mention the average weather in the springtime is 65-75 degrees in Santa Cruz?  Expect sunshine and great weather along with insane natural beauty if you visit Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.  Check out the Redwoods in California

-Kelli of Compass and Coastline

Photo Credit: Compass & Coastline

Joshua Tree National Park

Larger than the state of Rhode Island, Joshua Tree is one of California’s must-see national parks. June through October the daytime temperature soars over 100 degrees, but in the Spring the desert comes to life and temperatures are usually a mild 70-degrees. The stunning rock formations seem to glow in the soft light and colorful wildflowers burst from cracks in the rocks. Even the alien-looking Joshua Trees are in bloom. Climbers flock to the park in the spring to scramble and climb on the unique rock formations, but you don’t need to be a rock climber to appreciate the park.

Arch Rock is one of the most iconic rock formations in the park.  The trail to Arch Rock is an easy half-mile walk through a field of towering boulders. To access Arch Rock, park in the Twin Tanks Parking Area, near the White Tank Campground. The Arch Rock Nature Trail starts at the parking area and crosses the street before leading into the rock formations. You can lengthen the hike by walking less than a quarter-mile to the White Tank Campground before returning to the car.

Joshua Tree has some of the best stargazing in the state and a trip to Joshua Tree isn’t complete without spending a night playing games around the campfire and gazing into the Milky Way. Cottonwood Campground is my favorite campground in Joshua Tree because each site comes with a fire pit and a picnic table, and the bathrooms have running water. But, if you’re not into camping, the artsy, old-west town of Joshua Tree is located just outside of the park’s west entrance station and offers many stylish Airbnb rentals.

Check out this one day guide to Joshua Tree National Park!

-Katie of Trees and Tents

Photo Credit: Trees & Tents

Channel Islands National Park

Choosing which National Park to visit in the U.S. can be a daunting task. With over 60 to pick from, it really depends what time of year you decide to travel. If your wanderlust occurs in the Spring, you have to check out Channel Islands National Park. This fantastic park is located on literal islands in the Pacific Ocean, about 40 minutes off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. In the Spring, the California weather keeps these islands warmer than many other National Parks across the country.

Surrounded by a government-protected marine sanctuary, the different types of wildlife you can witness in the Channel Islands is endless. On the ferry ride over, whales breaching and dolphins swimming beside the boat are common. Once you make it to Santa Cruz Island (the largest of the archipelago), you’ll see pelicans flying past and pesky island foxes that are smart enough to open the zippers of backpacks looking for food. If you choose to go kayaking in the ocean, one of the most popular activities in the Channel Islands, you’ll be able to look in the water and spot all types of fish and marine life. After kayaking in and out of the gorgeous sea caves that naturally occur along the island’s coast, make sure you save time to hit some of the hiking trails. The Cavern Point Loop trail is my favorite and is a moderate 2 mile trek. The views of the blue ocean all around you will leave you speechless.

If you’re traveling in the Spring, make sure you choose a National Park that is unique and also where you can enjoy the weather. There is no doubt that Channel Islands National Park is the best option!

-Laura of Adrift Aesthetic

Photo Credit: Adrift Aesthetic

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is on the wet windward side of Hawaii’s Big Island, not far from Hilo. It offers a rare opportunity to see volcanic activity and the bizarre terrain it leaves in its wake. Though there’s currently no active lava flow and the Thurston Lava Tube is closed, there’s still plenty of fantastic stuff to explore. You can climb up a cinder cone, learn about the different types of lava and see how the landscape evolves long after an eruption has occurred.

Fortunately, Hawaii Volcanoes can be visited year-round. The weather in Hilo is consistent, but spring is a bit cooler and drier than summer. That said, it will almost certainly rain in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park almost every single day – make sure to include rain gear on your Hawaii packing list. In the spring, you’ll also find fewer tourists than winter and summer break periods. 

The Cinder Cone trail is family-friendly enough that our 5-year-old did it on her own. It’s a total of 2.5 miles with a 200ft elevation gain, but the first section is the most interesting and is completely flat. I recommend purchasing the small guide book available at the trailhead to explain the geology, topography and events that lead to the landscape’s extreme look.

For the ultimate in convenience, stay at The Volcano House in the National Park. It also offers several dining options. You can also stay in Volcano Village. The restaurant selection near the park is limited, so we opted for a self-catering rental.

-Melissa of The Family Voyage

Photo Credit: The Family Voyage

Pu’uhonua O Honauhau National Historic Park

One of the most underrated national parks in Hawaii is Pu’uhonua O Honauhau National Historic Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. Also well known with locals as The Place of Refuge here on the West side of Hawaii Island, this national park is a historic park that was officially used as a royal compound for a getaway and another part of this monument is actually a place of refuge for commoners that broke local laws or Kapu’s that immediately calls for harsh treatment and even death for broken rules. In order to gain clemency at the Place of Refuge, the commoners have to reach the refuge without being caught or killed.

For visitors to the park, you’ll get to see a recreated village set up for royalty with temples, canoe hales (storage areas), fish ponds and other sacred structures with a map and descriptions of each site that you are visiting along this area. The most striking landmark is this grass pitched structure with a series of wooden statues of local gods lined in a circle and overlooking this scenic bay. Across the way at two step is a very popular snorkeling spot to see some amazing coral and tropical fish if you want to go into this gorgeous and safe bay for a swim.

If you are visiting the west side of the island and Kona in general, check out my post here of top things to do around Kona here for more details and inspiration to visiting the area.

-Noel of This Hawaii Life

Photo Credit: Noel Morata

Haleakala National Park

Travelers the world over come to Maui, Hawaii for an opportunity to catch the sunrise on Mount Haleakala in Haleakla National Park. It’s a bucket list experience. And as a result, it can be crowded! However, spring is offseason on Maui so it’s the perfect time to visit Haleakla to miss the crowds while still enjoying perfect Maui weather!

It’s important to know that any time of year, there’s still a reservation system (60 days in advance) for sunrise visits to regulate the number of visitors. If you’d rather play it by ear (check the weather as it can be foggy up at the top), sunset is just as gorgeous…No reservation required!

But plan to spend some time to visit this impressive national park. It will take you an hour or so to drive from the west side of Maui to the summit so you’ll want to plan a hike or two once you arrive. Trails abound here so you can choose from a hike at the top or subalpine shrubland hikes.

Everyone’s favorite hike is not at Mount Haleakala, however. Seven Sacred Pools is an easy family-friendly walk still within the park but closer to Hana. It’s a peaceful beautiful walk one-mile loop trail. Bring binoculars for bird watching and a hat and sunscreen for the exposed trail.

-Chris of Explore Now or Never

Photo Credit: Explore Now or Never

Caribbean

Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands National Park, located on the small island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a stunning place to visit in the spring.  Just after the park’s busiest time of year, springtime will allow you to enjoy beautiful weather and lighter crowds for optimal hiking and beach time.  You can expect gorgeous Caribbean temperatures in the low 80’s (F), right before the scorching heat of summer comes rolling in.

The best things to do in Virgin Islands National Park include swimming in gentle turquoise waters and snorkeling in coral reefs.  One beach in particular, Maho Bay, is great for kayak rentals and sea turtle sightings.  Other wildlife commonly seen on the island includes easygoing donkeys and little goats.

Virgin Islands National Park is very family friendly, as many of its visitors come here for annual vacations to rent villas for the week.  Most of the activities on the island can be enjoyed by all ages, with hikes included.  There are many easy hikes that are great for the whole family, with one being the .62 miles required to reach unprotected Drunk Bay.  This short hike takes you past a sandy beach and salt pond to a rocky beach where you can see wild waves smashing up against the shore.

If you are not renting a villa, the best hotel on St. John is The Westin, which is only ten minutes away from some of St. John’s best North Shore beaches.  Must-visit restaurants to check out include Skinny Legs in Coral Bay, and The Longboard and High Tide in Cruz Bay.  These are all overall great spots, and they have food options that can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike.

-Theresa of Fueled By Wanderlust

Photo Credit: Fueled By Wanderlust

Lucayan National Park, Bahamas

I visited Lucayan national park in the spring on a quick trip from the Dominican Republic thinking that I could probably see most of it in a couple hours. Boy, was I wrong. One of only a handful of national parks in Grand Bahama, Lucayan is a national treasure housing an underwater cave system that is one of the largest in the world. Mangrove trails spill out onto a secluded pathway and a walk here to the sound of hundreds of birds and insects, is soothing. The entire region is a wild park, great to wander around that is also family friendly. It is possible to walk the entire trail in under 30 minutes and see all of it, but I would recommend slowing down and taking your time.

The area also comprises a wonderful beach with soft white sand and clear water. Tipsy Turtle Bar & Grill is a good option once the hunger strikes. Alternatives include a handful of Italian and seafood restaurants. Sadly, I ran out of time before getting to explore it all. I can’t wait to go back and explore more of this beautiful area. The more you explore, the more you discover how much more there is to experience.

-Rai of A Rai of Light

Photo Credit: A Rai of Light

South Pacific

Paluma Range National Park, QLD Australia

Nestled in the wet tropics of North Queensland sits the beautiful Paluma Range National Park.  You can find it about 80km north of the regions capital city, Townsville.

Spring (September to November) is one of the best times of the year to visit Paluma as the weather is perfect for swimming and the water levels aren’t too high. 

During the wet season (late November to April), the area can become inundated with water and make the area unsafe for swimming.

There are a few main attractions worth exploring while visiting this National Park:

  • PARADISE WATERHOLE is a lovely big swimming area, which is easily accessible and very family friendly.  There are plenty of shallow sections for young children to splash around in;
  • LITTLE CRYSTAL CREEK is only accessible via a long, windy road through the rainforest, but the rewards at the end are well worth it.  Boasting a gorgeous bridge, rock pools, swimming hole and an easy walking track throughout, you’ll be glad you went the distance;
  • BIG CRYSTAL CREEK is famous for its awesome natural rockslides.  The kids will love sliding down the slippery rock face and splashing into the big pools of water below.  The walking track from the car park is easy and scenic.

There are no eateries in the area, so make sure you pack a lunch and enjoy a nice picnic in one of the many picnic areas or alongside one of the waterholes.  Camping is available at the bottom (closest to the highway) next to the Paradise Waterhole carpark area.

-Emma of My Rig Adventures

Photo Credit: My Rig Adventures

Asia

Guilin National Park, China

If you get the chance to visit China you must visit Yangshuo. Yangshuo, Guilin is a beautiful national park in the northeast of China’s Guangxi province. It’s beautiful during the spring and is one of my favorite places to visit!

What makes Yangshuo so special are the uniquely shaped Karst mountains that surround the province. Moreover, unlike many cities in China, the pollution is less and the sky is blue. 

Another reason to visit Yangshuo in the springtime is the weather. Although the nights can still get pretty cool, the nights are much warmer than during the fall and winter. Moreover, the countryside is green and the flowers are in bloom. However, you should know that springtime in Yangshuo can also be pretty rainy so make sure to check the forecast before you plan your day trips. 

One thing you must do while in Guilin is take a river cruise along the Li River and or Lijiang River. These are the two main rivers that flow through the countryside. While cruising down the river, you’ll get the chance to admire the beauty of the Karst mountains, spray other passerby with a squirt gun and take Instagram worthy shots.

-Brittany of Asia Undiscovered 

Photo Credit: Asia Undiscovered

Charyn Canyon National Park

Kazakhstan is famous for its empty steppes, but few know Kazakhstan has much more to offer. Who would have thought that Kazakhstan is home to several stunning National Parks with incredible wildlife and beautiful landscapes? Charyn Canyon National Park is one of the easiest and most family friendly National Parks to visit and it makes for a great excursion from the former capital of Almaty.

Almaty lies in the South eastern part of Kazakhstan near the border with Kyrgyzstan and China. At the edge of the Tian Shan mountains it is one of the most beautiful areas of Kazakhstan. The Charyn canyon is a scenic 3 hour drive through the rolling hills of the steppes.

The Charyn National Park comes as a surprise as you drive through the steppes. Nothing can prepare you for the spectacular views as the canyon suddenly comes into view and the landscape changes drastically. It is often compared to the Grand Canyon in the US and although it isn’t as big as its famous sister it is for sure equally impressive.

There are several viewpoints into the Canyon that are accessible by car. However, the highlight will be the short and easy 2 kilometer hike through the valley of castles. A perfect activity for families with children. At the end of the valley lies an eco-lodge where you can eat or stay the night.

Spring is the best time to visit the Charyn Canyon. Winters can get pretty cold and in summer the heat becomes unbearable. From march till June the weather is just perfect. This makes the Charyn canyon one of the best National Parks to visit in Spring.

-Ellis of Backpack Adventures

Photo Credit: Backpack Adventures

Europe

High Tatras National Park, Slovakia

High Tatras National Park is one of the nine national parks of Slovakia, a small Central European country of a similar size as Kentucky. High Tatra Mountains belong to the western part of the Carpathian Mountain range. The highest peaks reach (2600m) 8700 ft and are the tallest in the whole Carpathians.

High Tatras are an amazing destination all year around, but spring travel offers some advantages such as way less tourists, lower prices, more accommodation options and cooler weather when compared to summer.

The most popular Slovak mountains offer tons of activities for all age groups and fitness levels. Families with small children can enjoy easy hikes around Stary Smokovec and Strbske Pleso Lake. Kids from 5 up will love the Magistrala trail between Hrebienok and Skalnate Pleso that involves 3 rides in 3 different cable cars, waterfalls, cool mountain lakes, four mountain chalets with great food and drinks plus a major bonus of amazing views. Another amazing hike (5 hours back and forth) is the Skok Waterfall hike. The terrain is gorgeous. You start from the ski jumps in Strbske Pleso, go up across blooming meadows, enchanting mossy forest, along cold streams and rock walls, through an alpine valley to a tall waterfall.

If you don’t feel like hiking, there are many cool places for families such as tubing, go-carts, bike and scooter rental, ziplining, theme parks, outdoor playgrounds, boating, botanical garden, waterpark and two caves. If it rains, you’ll have tons of fun in Tricklandia optical illusions gallery, Poliankovo digital gallery, indoor playgrounds, Kvantarium and LaborArtorium experimental galleries and several museums. What you cannot miss is great food and drinks. I highly recommend you try local Slovak dishes such as Bryndzove halusky (potato dumplings with sheep cheese), parene buchty (steamed dumplings with plum butter) and palacinky (crepes with various filling). After the main meal, do some coffee shop and patisserie hopping. What you’ll love about these is the fact that every coffee shop, chocolaterie and patisserie have amazing variety of cakes, desserts and hot drinks, but the major bonus is a kid’s corner. There is a reason why Lonely Planet voted High Tatras National Park as #1 European Destination in 2019.

-Slavka of On2Continents

Photo Credit: On2Continents

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is best visited during the Spring for many reasons. To begin with, Plitvice Lakes is something that should be on your bucket list. This unique national park is full of picturesque waterfalls and wooden boardwalks covering 297km2.

While the park is large, the main entry area gets bombarded with tourists during the summer months. When I visited during the early Spring, we had the park almost to ourselves. It was a breeze walking over the boardwalks and we were able to stop and take photos without getting pushed onwards in a stream of pedestrian traffic.

Another benefit of visiting during Spring is the price tag. If you enter Plitvice before June the entry fee is just $15 USD compared with $38 in the heart of summer. I loved that I could walk around at my own pace and experience one of the most breathtaking national parks in the world. 

The best way to see Plitvice is by following one of the routes on the map given to you at the entrance depending on how much time you have. The circular routes take you past the main waterfalls, along a river cruise (included in the ticket) and past a few restaurants located in the park. The park is family and wheelchair friendly in the main lower falls areas.

Springtime sees the upper lakes reopened after the winter season and is highly worth visiting. This area sees far fewer visitors and yet still has some of the most breathtaking photos. Read my complete guide on visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park.

-Erin of Curiously Erin

Photo Credit: Curiously Erin

Africa

The Garden Route National Park, South Africa

The Garden Route is a beautiful 300km stretch of coast from Mossel Bay in South Africa’s Western Cape Province all the way to Storms River on the border of the Eastern Cape. It’s an extremely popular local holiday destination, particularly in the Spring and Summer months as there are gorgeous beaches, epic hikes, extreme adventures like cage shark diving and a general sense of relaxation among the wilderness. The massive Garden Route National Park lies between several small towns. 

This National Park has the largest block of Afromontane forest in South Africa. The park is massive and includes, Knysna, Wilderness, Plettenberg Bay as well as the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma sandstone fynbos areas. There are mountain hikes, popular and desolate beaches, kayaking, canyoning, and paragliding; you name it and you can do it here. The best hike for families is one of the three options in the Knysna Forest. The loops range from 500m to 9km, so you can choose your level of intensity. But the Garden of Eden is probably your best bet as there are educational sign boards, so the 500m-1km walk is edifying and invigorating. 

There are too many options to choose for hungry tummies and it will largely depend on where you base yourself. In Plett, Main Street has some great options like Off the Hook for burgers or The Market selling street food options. Knysna visitors should go straight to East Head Cafe, Il de Pain or 34 Degrees South. 

While there are wonderfully rustic 4-star chalets in the middle of the Harkerville forest, most visitors stay in Plettenberg Bay, Knysna or Wilderness. The most popular accommodation in Plett option is the Beacon Isle hotel which is situated between a lagoon and beach and is great for families. Knysna is best for refined travelers with options like Simola Hotel, Country Club & Spa, Pezula Hotel and Mount Knysna Boutique Hotel. 

-Callan of Once in a Lifetime Journey

Photo Credit: Once In a Lifetime Journey

National Parks are a great option for solo, family, or adult vacations.  I urge you to consider a National Park for your next vacation!  Do you have other recommendations for a National Park to visit in the spring?  Leave your comments below!

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