Recommended national parks that are best visited in spring
America’s vastness and abundant natural beauty, combined with an unrivalled variety of ecosystems that covers just about every type imaginable, it is no wonder that the land that is the U.S. is home to so many national parks. Many of which are also UNESCO world heritage sites.
Here are 8 such national parks that are ideal for visiting in spring.
With its scorching summer days and cold winter nights, Joshua Tree National Park is just perfect for visiting in spring when daytime temperatures average around 80°F. A favorite recreational hangout of many adventurous Californians, this beauty of a national park features a huge variety of flora—including of course its namesake Joshua tree, cholla cacti and ocotillo plants. Spanning parts of both the Mojave and Colorado deserts, popular activities include desert hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. Joshua Tree National Park is also an ideal setting for cozy campfires in the cooler evenings. The only downside to visiting this time of the year is it gets busy, and if you plan on going during spring break and want to stay at a campground, it’s advisable to book ahead. Learn more here.
This one needs no introduction. The sheer vastness of the Grand Canyon National Park is breathtaking and springtime offers the ideal time to visit this majestic place. It has to be seen in-person to be truly appreciated. Visits to the South Rim (the most popular side) might still be a little chilly in early spring, but this is the best time for hikes down into the canyon. It’s a good idea to wear layers as you will shed these of as you venture deeper into the canyon, which, at the height of summer is almost unbearably hot. Recommended trails include the South Rim trail, and if you are a little more adventurous (and fit enough), Bright Angel trail is highly recommended. More on that here.
Fresh greenery, roaring waterfalls, and an abundance of wildflowers make the Great Smoky Mountains a top national park destination in spring. When the snow of the Blue Ridge Mountains melts, the waterfalls get bigger, making it one of the best destinations for waterfall viewing and photographing. Another reason to visit in spring is the wildflowers. There are more than 1,500 species of wildflowers in the Great Smokey Mountains, and April is the best month of the year to see this spectacle. It is not only spring that this national park is on the list of top ones to visit. In fall there is a display of wondrous autumnal colors covering its slopes and valleys. Head over to The National Parks Experience for more info.
Yellowstone is a staggering national park that is home to about half of all the world’s geothermal sites, roughly 10,000 of them and more than 300 of those are geysers. The oldest national park in the world, Yellowstone is a true natural wonder—where aside from geothermal springs—spectacular waterfalls drop from cliffs into gorges and wild herds of bison roam and moose graze freely, making it a wonderful wildlife viewing opportunity. If you’re visiting at the beginning of spring, there may still be plenty of snow on the ground, which also makes Yellowstone a great place to go snowshoeing. If snowshoeing isn’t your thing, then the best time to visit in spring is May.
As with the Smoky Mountain National Park… greenery, waterfalls and wildflowers dominate the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. In addition to this, black bear cubs venture out from their dens in springtime, making this one of the best times of the year for wildlife viewing. Due to the winter snow melt, rivers and streams are swollen and this makes for some fantastic waterfall viewing opportunities. For this, checkout Dark Hollow Falls, Doyles River Falls, Whiteoak Canyon Falls and South River Falls. Wildflowers are a major attraction at this time of year and for that, the end of March is the best visiting time, and the best place for seeing them and the Shenandoah National Park wildlife is at Big Meadows.
Maybe the grandest of all of America’s national parks, Yosemite National Park is sensational all-year round and each season has its own beautiful characteristics, but spring, however, is the most spectacular season for visitors. Yosemite is home to some of North America’s tallest waterfalls, and by May, after all the snow has melted, the creeks, rivers, and lakes are at their fullest and the waterfalls at their most epic. Yosemite epitomizes the great outdoors and should be a hiker’s paradise, with over 100 lakes, beautiful valleys and lush meadows. There are over 800 miles of trails to enjoy. For comprehensive info on these, head over to Yosemite Hikes.
Arches National Park, Utah
One of the most unique place in the world, Arches National Park is home to more than 2,000 natural rock arches. The natural scenery here is truly magnificent, with picturesque sunsets against the glowing red rocks, a major highlight. Hike the Park Avenue trail to see Delicate Arch (the one depicted on Utah’s license plates) and take a trip on the Devil’s Garden trail, which leads to more than seven arches. This includes Landscape Arch, the longest rock arch in the United States and one of the longest on Earth, reaching more than 300ft in length. The imposing and giant Double Arch is two massive connected arches, which at 34 meters is the tallest arch in the park.
Death Valley National Park, California
The hottest and driest place in all of North America (and possibly the world) is certainly one place you want to avoid at the height of summer. In spring however, particularly March and April, you can hike some amazing trails like the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Badwater Basin and the badlands below Zabriskie Point, without the heat being a major problem. You’re still going to need to bring plenty of water though as it is bone-dry no matter what time of year you go. Being one of the most popular places to visit in California in the spring, Death Valley National Park is also the closest national park to Las Vegas, so it sees plenty of visitors at this time of year. Spring may also see, at certain areas of the park, bursts of wildflowers which can add even more value to your visit.
So that’s 8 of the best U.S. national parks that are highly recommended for visiting in spring. Wherever you choose to go, we wish you a happy and safe experience.
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The Kovol Blog Team