Spring is a special time to spend in the national parks. During this season the temperatures are starting to get warmer and life returns to the area. Wildlife comes out of hibernation becomes more active as spring begins to bloom in the parks. Most parks begin to reopen during the spring after limited access during the winter months. The best part, flowers begin to bloom in fields and along the hiking trails. Here are the 23 Best USA National Parks to Visit in the Spring

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What to Pack for a Spring National Park Trip

  1. America the Beautiful National Parks Pass: If you intend to visit more than 3 National Park Services sites in a year, the America the Beautiful Pass will more than pay for itself.
  1. National Park Passport – The National Park Passport Book is the cheapest and best souvenir of your national park adventures. This book makes it easy to collect the National Park Cancellation Stamps. The cancellation stamps have the date of your visit and make it easy to track when you visited each national park service unit.
  1. Refillable Water Bottles – Do your part to reduce litter in our parks by bringing a refillable water bottle with you. A reusable and refillable water bottle can save you a lot of money and really help the environment. Here are my favorite water bottles
  1. Hydration Bladder – If you are hiking longer distances, a hydration bladder is the best way to hike with significant quantities of water. It is a rare hike when I don’t bring a full bladder with me.
  1. Snacks – There are limited services in the park.  So pick up all your snacks before you go.  Pack a couple of different options so you are prepared for any craving.
    • Fruit:  Pick hard fruits such as apples or pears.  These hold-up in the heat and in packs without getting squished to mush. Another option is freeze-dried fruit. Freeze-dried strawberries are the BOMB.  They are crunchy, sweet and the best part is they are lightweight and yummy.  These are my new favorite trail snack.
    • Vegetables: Cucumbers and carrots hold up well during hiking and in a hot car.
    • Granola Bars:  Take your favorite non-coated in chocolate granola bars.  Anything coated in chocolate will melt and be a sticky mess.  My favorite is a selection of Cliff Bars. They are great even when squished.
  1. Sunscreen – You don’t want to get burned on your visit.
  1. Lip balm – Your lips need just as much sun protection as your skin does.
  1. Sunglasses – Similar to sunscreen, you need a good pair of polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun.
  1. Hat – Hats are another sun protection device. A hat can keep the sun off your face and neck and help minimize the need for sunscreen while on the trail.
  1. First aid kit – As with any outdoor adventure, accidents happen. It is better to be prepared and have a compact first-aid kit ready to help with any accidents.
  1. Headlamp – Always keep a headlamp handy. You never know when you might want it. It can be used for midnight bathroom runs to sunrise/sunset hikes. A good headlamp makes it easy to operate in the dark.
  1. Shoes – Shoes are probably the most important piece of gear to any hiker. Hiking shoes should be seen as an investment. On the trail, your feet are your transportation and a solid pair of hiking shoes help support your feet and can prevent injury.
  1. Trail Navigation – Always carry a map and compass. They never run out of batteries and you can always figure out where you are. In many national parks, your cellphone is NOT adequate for navigation in the parks. Cell service is spotty and UNRELIABLE in many national parks and they can run out of batteries. A map and compass never have that problem.
  1. Hiking Day Pack – A good day pack is the best way to transport all your gear when hiking. I highly recommend getting a backpack that is designed for outdoor use. These packs come with handy pockets and straps. My 40 L day pack has a pocket for my water bladder and a clip to hold the water line in place.
  1. National Park Obsessed Shirt – Share your love of the National Parks and support National Park Obsessed with a National Park Obsessed T-Shirt.
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Best USA National Parks to Visit in the Spring

Map of Best National Parks to Visit in the Spring

Spring National Parks Placeholder
Spring National Parks

Arches National Park, Utah

Best time to visit Arches National Park: March to May

Springtime at Arches National Park is the gateway for when most of the snow begins to melt, reopening all of the areas of the park. With the change in seasons, it brings warmer temperatures to the park giving more access to the visitors before the summer heat arrives in early June. Visitors can expect to hike alongside the blooming wildflowers throughout the desert while the local wildlife becomes more present. The cool nights away from city lights still make Arches National Park one of the best places to stargaze in the United States.

Best Spring Adventures in Arches National Park:

  • Hiking
  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Stargazing
  • Camping
Get help planning your trip to Arches National Park.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Best time to visit Big Bend National Park: March to May

Big Bend National Park, one of the most popular parks during this season. The spring break season at Big Bend brings the largest crowed the park will see at a given time that year. With low temperatures compared to the summer months visitors flock to the desert. After the fall and winter months have filled the desert in rain the 1000s of plant species begin to bloom. While the spring brings large crowds to the park they are typically not the at the level one would expect at other parks, like Yellowstone or Grand Canyon.

Best Spring Time Activities in Big Bend National Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Bird Watching
  • Kayaking/Canoeing/Rafting
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
Get help planning your trip to Big Bend National Park

Channel Islands National Park, California

Best time to visit Channel Islands National Park: January to May

When spring hits Channel Islands National Park it brings along lush wildflowers and vibrant colors. Western gulls and many other species of seabirds begin to nest on the islands, signaling the start of the spring bird migration to the islands. While bird watching reaches its peak season Gray Whale viewing slowly declines throughout the spring. With the Whales leaving the islands the California Sea Lions and Northern Fur Seals begin to return to their rocky coastlines. Springtime at Channel Islands National Park is the best time to experience the above water aspect of the islands.

Best Spring Activities in Channel Islands National Park:

  • Bird Watching
  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Channel Islands Live
  • Hiking
Get help planning your trip to Channel Islands National Park:

Death Valley National Park, California / Nevada

Best time to visit Death Valley National Park: February to May

Spring in Death Valley National Park brings the best temperatures the park will see in a given year. Mornings are crisp and slowing fade into sunny afternoons, unlike the summer and winter seasons which hold each of the parks extreme temperatures. Even though it is known as the driest place in American the winter rains bring lush wildflowers to life in early spring. Each spring visitors gather at the park for the Dark Sky Festival, a multi-night event gazing up into the stars.

Best Spring Activities in Death Valley National Park:

  • Death Valley Dark Sky Festival
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Hiking
  • Camping
Get help planning your Death Valley National Park Trip

Everglades National Park, Florida

Best time to visit Everglades National Park: December to May

Everglades National Park is best visited during the dry season. Typically the dry season runs from late November until early May each year. When water levels fall throughout the park the food for many animals becomes more accessible, which attracts a diverse new crowd to the park. During these months there is a heavy bird migration to the area along with manatees moving into the Flamingo Marina for the winter. The best part of spring is lower humidity levels, less frequent rain, and fewer mosquitos.

Best Spring Activities in Everglades National Park:

  • Bird Watching
  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Kayaking/Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
Get help planning your trip to Everglades National Park

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Best time for a spring getaway to Grand Canyon National Park: March to May

Springtime in Grand Canyon National Park is a unique time compared to the other seasons. During the spring months, the park begins to reopen and prepare for the summer crowds. It begins with the North Rim reopening after the end of winter. Springtime visitors can enjoy fewer crowds around the park along with lower average temperatures compared to the park’s peak summer months.

Best Spring Activities in Grand Canyon National Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Rafting
Get help planning Grand Canyon National Park Trip:

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Best time for a spring trip to Grand Teton Mountains National Park: March to May

Springtime is moving season at Grand Teton Mountains National Park. When temperatures begin to rise the wildlife in the park start moving out of hibernation and into the grasslands. Birds return from their migration south, bears wake from hibernation, bison and moose trade the winter areas for the grasslands. Spring is the time for movement around the park. However, during the spring most wildlife sighting are around dawn and dusk. Spring is the perfect time for a mountain safari in Grand Teton Mountains National Park.

Best Spring Activities in Grand Teton National Park:

  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
Get help planning your trip to Grand Teton National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Best time for a spring getaway to Great Sand Dunes National Park: March to May

Great Sand Dunes National Park is best visited during the spring months. During summer months the sand becomes too hot to touch most days, providing little access to the areas of the park. Cool spring days are the best for hiking and sledding through the sand dunes. The best days for adventures in the park are after rainstorms when the sand is more stable. Past the dunes wildflowers and wildlife come to life in the spring’s warmth.

Best Spring Activities in Great Sand Dunes National Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Hiking
  • Camping
Get help planning your trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee / North Carolina

Best time for a spring getaway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park: March to May

Springtime at Great Smoky Mountains National Park gives the park a new name that only lasts one season, “Wildflower National Park”. During the spring more than 1500 wildflower species bloom throughout the park. Many of these species begin to bloom in the last few weeks of Winter and have already died by mid Spring when leaves begin to fill the trees again. The best time to see the wildflowers is during the Wildflower Pilgrimage which occurs near the end of April each year. While the park is blooming a vast amount of wildflowers and life returning from hibernation it is overall one of the slowest seasons for park visitors.

Best Spring Activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

  • Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Camping
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA sunset landscape over Newfound Gap.
Get help planning your trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Best time for a spring getaway to Joshua Tree National Park: February to May

Joshua Tree National Park bursts to life in late February with the blooming wildflowers. Vibrant wildflowers slowly fill the park though the weeks, beginning in the lower elevations. Of all the vibrant wildflowers the Joshua Tree steals the show. The tall cactus bursts to life with crimson flowers. Temperatures are cooler than summer months, allowing visitors more time outdoors. With the warmer temperatures, local wildlife comes out of hiding to bask atop the rocks in the sun.

Best Spring Activities in Joshua Tree National Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
Get help planning your trip to Joshua Tree National Park

Olympic National Park, Washington

Best time for a spring getaway to Olympic National Park: March to May

Olympic National Park is a diverse park with three specific areas; mountains, rainforest, and coastline. During the spring the mountains are still full of snow and not quite accessible yet. However, with the slow snowmelt the other two areas a booming with life. The rainforest turns to a lush green wonderland with moss hanging on every limb. Waterfalls throughout the park turn to roaring sights with the added water flowing towards the ocean. During summer months the beaches around Olympic can see crowds of visitors, but during the spring months, few visitors venture down onto the beaches. Springtime in Olympic is marked by the Gray Whale migration that takes place along the Washington Coast between March and early May.

Best Spring Activities in Olympic National Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Kayaking/Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
Get help planning your trip to Olympic National Park

Redwoods National Park, California

Best time for a spring getaway to Redwoods National Park: April to May

Redwoods National Park is one of the later parks to get its spring colors. The rainy season does not end until late April giving way to the spring blooms by mid-May. Starting in May programs return to the visitor centers and trails around the park become more accessible. The vibrant colors bursting around the park are thanks to the pink rhododendrons that bloom in early May each year. Temperatures are usually cooler and wet during most of the spring months.

Best Spring Activities in Redwoods National Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
Get help planning your Redwoods National Park Trip

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Best time for a spring getaway to Rocky Mountain National Park: March to May

Spring is the time for thawing and reawakening in Rocky Mountain National Park. Snow begins to melt at the lower elevations, giving way to vibrant wildflowers. With the snow nearing an end, park areas reopen providing views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. During the spring few visitors make the trip into the park to experience the babbling rivers and roaring waterfalls that winter brought to life.

Best Spring Activities in Rocky Mountain National Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
Get help planning your trip to Rocky Mountain National Park

Saguaro National Park, California

Best time for a spring getaway to Saguaro National Park: March to May

Saguaro National Park is home to the giant Saguaro Cactus that fill the landscape. During the spring everything between the cactuses is bursting in vibrant blooms. Everywhere you look throughout the park the landscape is vibrant and in full bloom. During the warm spring days local wildlife can be spotted darting through the desert.

Best Spring Activities in Saguaro National Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
Get help planning Saguaro National Park Trip:

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Best time for a spring getaway to Shenandoah National Park: March to May

Shenandoah National Park is bursting with vibrant wildflower colors by late March. The 200,000-acre park reopens late March to begin the wildflower display. More than 850 species of flowering plants call Shenandoah home, this is the one time of the year they get to put on a colorful show. While most of the park’s visitors arrive in during the fall, the spring offers a beauty no other season has to offer.

Best Spring Activities in Shenandoah National Park:

  • Skyline Drive
  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Stony Man Mountain, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.
Get help planning your trip to Shenandoah National Park

Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Best time for a spring getaway to Voyageurs National Park: April to June

Spring is a unique time for Voyageurs National Park, it’s quiet. By early spring there is not enough snow for snowmobiles and the lakes are still partly frozen preventing motorboats. Spring visitors to the park enjoy an experience of the flora and fauna coming back to life after the winter months. If you arrive in late spring the lake will begin to break apart allowing access to small craft like canoes and kayaks. Throughout the lakes, spring brings the migratory birds back to the park. On land, the birth of many new animals occurs up till the start of summer.

Best Spring Activities in Voyageurs National Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Canoeing/Kayaking
Get help planning your trip to Voyageurs National Park

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

Best time for a spring getaway to White Sands National Park: March to May

The gypsum dunes are speckled with color throughout the spring season. Temperatures are cooler during the spring; however, it brings high wind gusts that make long distance hiking difficult. By mid-spring, many of the yuccas have begun to bloom around the park giving color to the white dunes.

Best Spring Activities in White Sands National Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
Get help planning your trip to White Sands National Park

Yosemite National Park, California

Best time for a spring getaway to Yosemite National Park: Late March to May

Yosemite National Park is one of those parks where each season gives the park a new life, some would say it even creates a new park. Early April in Yosemite is when the winter snow begins to melt creating more water than most of the park can hold. This is the prime waterfall season for the park, all of the bodies of water around the park are at their maximum capacity. Yosemite is home to many of the tallest waterfalls on an average day; however, during spring these waterfalls are roaring with life. Along with the waterfalls spring blooms give the park new life in the valleys.

Best Spring Activities in Yosemite National Park:

  • Waterfall Viewing
  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
Get help planning your trip to Yosemite National Park

Zion National Park, Utah

Best time for a spring getaway to Zion National Park: March to May

Spring in Zion National Park marks the return of life to the valley. As temperatures begin to rise trees and wildflowers begin to bloom throughout the valley. In early spring some parts of the park will remain closed until the snow melts or water levels lower. Shuttles, campgrounds, and museums reopen in early spring providing visitors more access to the park. March typically sees the most number of visitors during the spring months.

Best Spring Activities in Zion National Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
Get help planning your trip to Zion National Park

Buffalo National River, Arkansas

Best time for a spring getaway to Buffalo National River: March to May

When spring arrives to the Buffalo National River, it marks the start of float season. A float down the river offers views of the towering mountains, waterfalls, and wildlife. Late April begins wildflower season along the Buffalo River, most notably the Indian Paintbrush. Wildflowers throughout the area prefer to locate themselves near the waterfalls. Until the summer months the temperatures are cool providing excellent opportunities to explore the vast Buffalo River Country.

Best Spring Activities in Buffalo National River:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Canoe/Kayak
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Fishing

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Kentucky / Tennessee / Virginia

Best time for a spring getaway to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park: March to May

Cumberland Gap comes to life in early spring with the annual bloom of local wildflowers. The occasional snow has melted and the mountain tops and valleys are bursting in vibrant colors. Hiking along the Ridge Trail surrounds visitors in local flora and fauna basking in the warmer days. A visit to the 20th-century Hensley Settlement located atop Brush Mountain is bursting with color by mid-spring when wildflowers have filled the mountain tops.

Best Spring Activities in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
By J654567, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9486697
By J654567, CC BY-SA 3.0
Get help planning your trip to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida / Mississippi

Best time for a spring getaway to Gulf Islands National Seashore: March to May

Gulf Islands National Seashore is quiet during the spring months before the summer crowds arrive. Beaches are barren except the local flora and fauna. Blooming wildflowers and shorebirds fill the landscape along the shoreline. Water temperatures are still usually chilly for swimming during spring months; however, there are the occasional warmer days. Fort Pickens is located at one end of the seashore and offers springtime activities and history of the local areas.

Best Spring Activities in Gulf Islands National Seashore:

  • Fort Pickens
  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Canoeing/Kayaking
Photo Credit - Natalie Maynor, Flickr, CC BY 2.0 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/nataliemaynor/16412720342/
Photo Credit – Natalie Maynor, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Get help planning your trip to Gulf Islands National Seashore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Best time for a spring getaway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: March to June

Spring along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore marks the end of winter. Once the snow has melted a new world begins to bloom. Trails along the tops of the towering cliffs are bursting in vibrant wildflowers and the occasional wildlife. The cooler days are not quite ready for swimming in Lake Superior and basking in the sun. However, exploring the cliffs by kayak or canoe is an experience like no other.

Best Spring Activities in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore:

  • Wildflower Viewing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Canoeing/Kayaking
  • Watersports
Get help planning your trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Brian is an Eagle Scout and currently studying Architecture/Sustainability at Clemson University. He is an outdoor enthusiast who has visited 19 of the 62 US National Parks. Brian enjoys hiking, backpacking, photography and kayaking. Brian loves to share his passion for the outdoors and help others venture into the wild.

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