The 12 Best National Parks to Visit in Spring
- Joshua Tree National Park - California
- Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming
- Shenandoah National Park - Virginia
- Arches National Park - Utah
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Ohio
- Haleakalā National Park - Hawaii
- Big Bend National Park - Texas
- Grand Canyon National Park - Arizona
- Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve - Alaska
- Biscayne National Park - Florida
- National Mall and Memorial Parks - Washington, D.C.
- Mammoth Cave National Park - Kentucky
Many of America's national parks are best visited in the spring, as the days get longer, snow and ice melt, temperatures rise, and nature awakens.
Whether you’ve been visiting national parks all winter, watched the leaves change at a national park in fall, or have only been to the national parks in the summer, we’ve got you covered. From RV camping to hiking to scenic drives, enjoy some time in these top national parks for spring.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
One of the most spectacular displays in the park is the blooming of the Joshua trees, which happens in late March to early April. Yucca plants produce white and green flowers, adding even more color to the already vibrant landscape.
Visitors can explore the park by hiking its many trails, such as the popular Ryan Mountain Trail, which offers stunning panoramic views of the park. Other popular hikes include the Lost Palms Oasis and the Cholla Cactus Garden. Rock climbers will find many opportunities to test their skills on the park's granite boulders and formations.
Spring is also a great time for stargazing in the park, as the weather is usually clear and cool in the evenings. The park offers many ranger-led activities, including guided hikes, campfire talks, and night-sky programs.
For those interested in events, the Joshua Tree Music Festival is held in May and features an eclectic lineup of musicians and performers. The area also offers the Palm Springs International Film Festival in March and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April.
The weather in Joshua Tree National Park in spring is mild, with daytime temperatures averaging in the mid-70s and nighttime temperatures dropping into the 40s Fahrenheit. Visitors should be prepared for fluctuating temperatures and bring appropriate layers for the cooler evenings.
Joshua Tree National Park in the spring is a breathtaking destination that offers a wide range of activities for everyone to enjoy. But book your trip in advance because with its close proximity to both San Diego and Los Angeles, it can get busy.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
In March, the average high temperature is 40°F and the average low is 17°F, but by May, the temperature increases to an average high of 60°F and an average low of 32°F. While there may still be some snow in the higher elevations, the lower elevations are typically snow-free and the weather is perfect for hiking, biking, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
One of the most popular trails in the park is the Jenny Lake Trail, which takes you through scenic valleys, along the shores of Jenny Lake, and up to Inspiration Point for breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The trail is typically open in the spring, although visitors should be aware of possible snow and ice.
Other notable landmarks to see in the park include the iconic Teton Range, the Snake River, and the historic Menors Ferry. For wildlife enthusiasts, spring is a great time to see newborn animals, such as bison calves and elk fawns.
The park hosts the annual Jackson Hole Elkfest in May, which includes a variety of activities such as an antler auction, live music, and a chili cook-off. Additionally, the National Museum of Wildlife Art hosts various exhibitions throughout the spring.
Grand Teton National Park is an ideal destination for a spring break visit, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and cultural events. Visitors can experience the park's unique and awe-inspiring beauty while enjoying ideal spring weather for outdoor activities.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
A popular springtime activity in the park is hiking, as the weather is perfect for exploring the numerous trails that range from easy to challenging. One of the most notable hiking areas to check out is Old Rag Mountain, where trails to the summit offer sweeping views of the park. A must-see landmark is scenic Skyline Drive, which winds through the park and offers panoramic views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.
March, April, and May also feature various festivals and events, such as the Annual Wildflower Weekend in late April, where visitors can join guided hikes and learn about the park's diverse flora. Additionally, the Shenandoah National Park Association hosts a variety of events and workshops throughout the spring months.
Average temperatures during spring are mild, with daytime temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the mid-70s Fahrenheit. Evenings can be cooler, so it's a good idea to pack layers.
While not as well-known as some of the other national parks, Shenandoah National Park is an excellent option for a spring break trip. It offers a unique and memorable experience for those looking to escape the typical beach vacation. Plus, the park is within driving distance from major East Coast cities such as Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, making it a convenient destination for a weekend or weeklong getaway.
Arches National Park, Utah
One of the most popular landmarks in Arches National Park is Delicate Arch, a stunning natural sandstone arch that perfectly frames the surrounding mountains. It's an iconic symbol of the park that visitors can reach by hiking Delicate Arch Trail, a moderately difficult trek that takes about three hours round-trip. Another must-see is Landscape Arch, the longest natural arch in North America. Visitors can access this awe-inspiring natural wonder via a short and easy trail.
In the spring, Arches National Park is host to a variety of special events and festivals, such as the Moab Skinny Tire Festival, a road cycling event held in March. Additionally, the park's visitor center offers a range of educational programs and guided tours for visitors of all ages.
Arches National Park is pleasant in the spring, with average temperatures ranging from the high 40s to mid-70s Fahrenheit. Visitors should expect some precipitation and occasional winds, so it's recommended to bring layers and rain gear.
Arches National Park is a great spring break destination for families who want to escape the crowded beaches of more traditional locations. While Arches isn't typically overrun with college students, visitors should plan ahead and book accommodations and activities in advance, as the park can still get quite busy in the spring.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
As the snow melts away, the lush greenery of the park returns, and visitors are welcome to explore the hiking trails that course through the natural beauty. Brandywine Gorge Loop Trail is a must-see destination, as it winds through the forest, crosses over streams, and provides stunning views of Brandywine Falls. In addition to hiking, visitors can rent bicycles and ride along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail or enjoy a leisurely picnic in one of many scenic spots throughout the park. There's even a scenic train ride that runs through the park on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a unique and beautiful destination, especially for families looking for a nature-filled spring break adventure. There are also several events and festivals that take place in the park during March, April, and May, including the annual Woollybear Festival held in the nearby town of Vermilion.
Springtime weather in the park is typically mild, with average temperatures ranging from 40°F to 70°F. Visitors should be prepared for cool mornings and evenings and may still need a jacket or lightweight windbreaker in the early spring. It's a good idea to check the weather forecast before visiting and pack accordingly.
Whether you're looking for scenic hikes, outdoor adventures, or a peaceful retreat, Cuyahoga Valley National Park has it all. So grab your hiking boots, pack a picnic, and get ready to enjoy the beauty of spring in Ohio.
Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii
One of the most popular activities in the park is hiking, and springtime weather is perfect for experiencing some of the best trails in Hawaii. Visitors can explore the Halemau'u Trail, which leads through a stunningly diverse landscape, from desolate volcanic cinder cones to lush forests of bamboo and ferns. Another popular hike is Pipiwai Trail, which features a picturesque waterfall and bamboo forest. These trails are open year-round, but be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out—you may need a jacket or light windbreaker this time of year.
In addition to hiking, the park is home to some notable landmarks, such as the main attraction of the park: Haleakalā Crater, a vast volcanic depression that visitors can enjoy from various viewpoints throughout the park. The park also offers an astronomy program, where visitors can stargaze under some of the clearest night skies in the world.
Spring brings some exciting events and festivals to the park, and the annual Maui Steel Guitar Festival, held in April, is a highlight. It celebrates Hawaiian culture and music and features steel guitar performances, workshops, and jam sessions. In May, the Maui Classical Music Festival showcases the talent of renowned classical musicians in the park's stunning surroundings.
The average temperature in the park during the springtime is between 60° and 75°F. And you’ll need something more sturdy than flip-flops to explore the park, so be sure to bring your comfortable sandals or other lightweight hiking boots or shoes.
The park is not a typical spring break destination, making it perfect for those seeking a serene and peaceful vacation. With its breathtaking landscapes, exciting activities, and cultural events, Haleakalā National Park is the ideal spring break destination to unwind and reconnect with nature. And if you're planning to visit, don't forget to pack your essential summer camping gear, such as hiking boots, backpacks, cameras, and UPF clothing and sunscreen.
Big Bend National Park, Texas
One of the most popular trails to explore is Santa Elena Canyon Trail, which leads hikers through towering canyon walls and along the Rio Grande River. For a more challenging hike, the South Rim Trail offers stunning views of the park and surrounding mountains. Visitors can also take a scenic drive along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which offers breathtaking views of the Chisos Mountains and Chihuahuan Desert.
In March, visitors can enjoy live music, food, and river activities at the annual Rio Grande River Festival, a celebration of the river and its surrounding ecosystems. In April, the park hosts the Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta, which offers guided hikes, presentations, and exhibits highlighting the unique flora and fauna of the region.
Spring weather in Big Bend National Park is mild, with average temperatures ranging from the 60s to low 80s Fahrenheit. While days may be warm, temperatures can drop quickly after sunset, so it's best to pack layers. Don't forget to bring sturdy hiking boots, sunscreen, UPF clothing, a hat, and plenty of water.
With its stunning scenery and abundance of outdoor activities, Big Bend National Park makes an ideal destination for spring break. While it may not be as crowded as popular spring break destinations like Florida or Hawaii, it's still wise to book accommodations in advance. And don't forget to pack a lightweight and durable backpack to carry all of your hiking essentials.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Springtime temperatures in Grand Canyon National Park are perfect for exploring the outdoors, with an average high of around 70°F in March and April, and around 80°F in May. It’s a comfortable time to be outdoors here, but you might still need a light jacket or windbreaker in the early mornings and evenings.
Hiking is one of the best activities to do in the park during spring. With more than 350 miles of trails, visitors can explore the park's stunning landscape and take in its spectacular views. Some of the most popular trails include Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and the North Kaibab Trail. It's important to note that some trails may be closed or restricted during spring due to snow or trail maintenance, so be sure to check the park's website for updates.
Visitors can also enjoy scenic drives along Desert View Drive or Hermit Road, taking in the park's impressive vistas and visiting landmarks such as the Desert View Watchtower and the historic Grand Canyon Village.
A popular event that visitors can enjoy during springtime in Grand Canyon National Park is the annual Star Party, held in late April or early May. The event features stargazing, astronomy lectures, and telescope viewing, which allows visitors to see the wonders of the night sky in one of the world's most thrilling locations.
Grand Canyon National Park offers plenty of outdoor adventure and natural wonder, making it the perfect spring break destination. Whether you plan on hiking or stargazing, be sure to bring sunscreen, water, and the right gear to make the most of your visit.
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Hiking enthusiasts will experience the stunning beauty of the Arctic when they hit the park’s trails. The famous Arrigetch Peaks offer a dramatic landscape of jagged peaks, narrow valleys, and glacial lakes. The Endicott River Trail offers a challenging trail as it winds through diverse terrain and rugged landscapes. Be sure to bring warm clothing, as temperatures can still drop below freezing in the park this time of year. In addition to things like winter jackets, puffer coats, warm socks, hats, gloves, and snow pants , you’ll want good midlayers too. Opt for something with reflective heat technology like Omni-Heat Helix.
Spring is also a great time to witness the aurora borealis, or northern lights, in all their glory. Watch in awe as ribbons of green, purple, and blue dance across the night sky. The park's remote location makes it an ideal spot for viewing this natural wonder, and visitors can reserve lodges or cabins for an even more immersive experience.
In addition to being a great spring break destination for those seeking a unique and adventurous experience, the lack of crowds makes spring a perfect time to soak up the peace and quiet of this pristine wilderness. Just make sure to pack for the weather and enjoy the beauty of this incredible wilderness.
Biscayne National Park, Florida
One of the most popular springtime activities in Biscayne National Park is snorkeling. The park is home to vibrant coral reefs, teeming with colorful fish and other marine life. Visitors can rent snorkeling gear and explore the crystal-clear waters, or take a guided tour to learn more about the park's ecology.
In addition to snorkeling, several hiking trails in the park are open in the spring. The Boca Chita Key trail is a popular choice, offering stunning views of the ocean and nearby islands. The Dante Fascell Visitor Center is also a must-see attraction that features exhibits and educational programs about the park's history and ecosystems.
For those visiting in March, the park hosts the annual Biscayne National Park Institute Art Festival. This festival features local artists and their work, as well as live music, food, and activities for all ages. In April, the park hosts the Earth Day Celebration, which focuses on environmental education and conservation.
Whether you're looking to relax on the beach or explore the park's natural wonders, Biscayne National Park is a perfect spring break destination for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. And its proximity to Miami makes Biscayne National Park a great addition to any Florida spring break itinerary.
Just remember to pack sunscreen, as the sun can be quite strong in the spring. And while it's a great time for summer shorts and sandals, you might still need a light windbreaker or breathable jacket, as the sea breeze can be cool in the early morning or late afternoon.
National Mall and Memorial Parks, Washington, D.C.
One of the most notable events during spring in the National Mall and Memorial Parks is the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, held in late March to early April, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The festival offers a variety of activities, including cultural performances, food vendors, and guided tours of the blossoms. Visitors can also participate in the Cherry Blossom 10K run, which is a popular event for participants of all levels.
Aside from the festival and cherry blossoms, one can take a leisurely stroll around the Tidal Basin and marvel at the iconic views of the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument. Visitors can also explore the many other landmarks that the National Mall has to offer, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Spring weather in Washington, D.C., is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to mid-70s Fahrenheit. However, it's always a good idea to check the forecast before visiting and plan to dress in layers, as temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day. Additionally, comfortable walking shoes and a lightweight jacket are recommended for outdoor activities.
The National Mall and Memorial Parks is an excellent spring break destination, especially for those who enjoy history and outdoor activities, offering a unique and enriching experience that cannot be found anywhere else. Visitors can immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of the United States while enjoying the beautiful spring weather and iconic views of the nation’s capital.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
One of the main draws of Mammoth Cave National Park is, of course, the cave system. Although cave tours are open year-round, in the spring you can enjoy a range of tours from the easily accessible Frozen Niagara tour to the more strenuous and adventurous Wild Cave Tour. The Domes and Dripstones tour, which highlights the cave's unique geology, is another favorite.
For above-ground activities, hiking is popular in the park, with numerous trails to explore, including the Cedar Sink Trail, the Green River Bluffs Trail, and the Sloan's Crossing Pond Trail, all of which offer stunning views of the park's natural beauty.
In terms of landmarks, the park is home to the historic Mammoth Cave Hotel, which dates back to the late 19th century. The hotel has been restored to its former glory and offers a unique glimpse into the park's history. The park also features a number of sinkholes and natural bridges that are worth exploring.
March, April, and May are great months to visit Mammoth Cave National Park, with fewer crowds than in the peak summer months. The park hosts a Spring Break Camp for kids in late March, and the annual Wildflower Weekend in late April is a favorite among nature lovers.
While not a typical spring break destination, Mammoth Cave National Park is a great option for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy a more low-key spring break experience in cooler temperatures.