10 Best US National Parks to Visit in Spring 2024

As the cold winter days begin to warm up and see more daylight, it seems like the world is reawakening with the coming of spring. One of the best ways to experience the season is to visit some of the magnificent US National Parks.  

It’s during this magical time that you’ll see budding flowers, the migrating songbirds and even catch a glimpse of cute newly born animals that call these parks home. During the spring, some parks can experience cool weather phenomena. They can seem dormant most of the year and come to life with bursts of color in the spring. 

If you’re not sure which park to visit, don’t worry. This list has some of the best national parks to visit in the spring.  

Top 10 Best US National Parks to Visit This Spring   

Map of US National park to Visit in Spring with a collage of national park destinations looking their best in the spring months
Click here for an interactive map in Google Maps – create your own spring road trip itinerary

1. Shenandoah National Park

Location: Virginia

Spring is a major event in the famous Shenandoah National Park. The bees are buzzing, the birds are singing, and of course, the flowers are blooming. The park even hosts some fun wildflower events, including guided tours. This way, you can get an in-depth look at this beautiful park and all of its springtime treasures.  

Flowers begin to bloom in early spring and continue until late into the season, giving you plenty of time to enjoy them. The trillium, Shenandoah’s signature flower, is a major reason it’s one of the best national parks to visit in May. Along with these budding flowers come the butterflies. You’ll be sure to see them flying from flower to flower.  

USA Best US National Parks to Visit in Spring - Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Wildlife viewing is another reason Shenandoah is a delight during the spring season. It’s possible to catch a glimpse of cute, spotted deer and furry black bears. Birders will be in heaven at this east coast national park with the many migrant songbirds that return to the park in springtime. 

Entrance Fee: $30 for private vehicles, valid for 7 days. 

Seasonal Closures: Be aware of any alerts and hazardous conditions in Shenandoah National Park by checking their website updates and subscribing to the text alert system. To be sure you are notified about road conditions, Text SHENALERTS to 888777.  

2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Location: North Carolina/Tennessee 

As the winter begins to melt away, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park comes alive. One of the major draws to the Smokies is their blooming wildflowers. No matter where you head in the park, you’re bound to see beautiful colors throughout, making it an easy choice as one of the best US national parks to visit in spring. It’s also a great time to see wildlife enjoying their own spring rituals.  

Consider joining the Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Smokies. This annual event has many guided tours and events throughout the park focusing on the beautiful blooming flowers. This coming year, it takes place on May 1-4, 2024 making it one of the best national parks to visit this April. 

USA Best US National Parks to Visit in Spring - Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

The spring is also a perfect time for hiking, biking, and kayaking in the Smokies. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right! However, check ahead and be aware that the spring weather can change quickly, and it’s known to rain during the spring months. Pack accordingly, and don’t let that stop you from enjoying the park.

A great alternative plan for the rain is to see the park from the dry comfort of your own car. Both the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and the Foothills Parkway Scenic Drive are great options for this – you can find all our favorite scenic drives through the Smoky Mountains here (and a few more Tennesse scenic driving routes if you want to continue your journey west).

Entrance Fee:  

  • There is no entry fee for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 
  • However, beginning March 1, 2023, a parking tag is required to park anywhere within the boundaries of the park (parking is considered a stop of more than 15 minutes; scenic driving with only quick photo stops remains free). 
  • Parking tags costs are: Daily- $5, Weekly – $15, Annual- $40 
  • Parking tags can be purchased onsite or online from the Great Smoky Mountains Association 
  • For more information on the Parking Tags, check out the NPS website  

Seasonal Closures: There may be road closures in the Great Smoky Mountains due to weather during the spring. Get the most up-to-date information by following @SmokiesRoadNPS on Twitter.  

3. Grand Canyon National Park

Location: Arizona  

Springtime in the Grand Canyon National Park is seriously one of the best times to visit this bucket list item. During the spring, the canyon comes alive with the bright blooming colors of flowering plants, cacti, of course, and even lovely flowering desert trees. 

It can be a mix of weather during the spring season. So, it’s possible to catch a late snowstorm or fog blanketing this geographical wonder. But hey, both make for insanely cool photo ops! Spring’s longer days bring more daylight to the Grand Canyon, making the best hikes even better.    

USA Best US National Parks to Visit in Spring - Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is one of America’s favorite national parks for spring break. But don’t let that stop you from taking a fabulous road trip over. Instead, make sure to plan ahead!

Entrance Fee: $35 for private vehicles, valid for 7 days, and is good for both North Rim and South Rim. Passes can be purchased at the entrance to the park with a credit or debit card (no cash) or online at Recreation.gov 

Seasonal Closures: The North Rim will open for the season beginning May 15, 2023. Check the National Parks Service website for up-to-date alerts and road conditions (early indications are that North Rim will not open this year until June due to heavier than usual snow fall) 

Pro Tip: Buying tickets in advance is not required at Grand Canyon National Park. But having your tickets already in hand will help you avoid the long lines at the gate. You can purchase a ticket online at www.yourpassnow.com 

  • Got a 4th Grader in Your Family? See if you’re eligible for a free national park entry this year with Every Kid Outdoors

4. Saguaro National Park

Location: Arizona 

Not too hot, not too cold, but just right! That’s the weather you’ll find at one of the best national parks in the deep desert this spring, so why not see Saguaro for yourself? 

Saguaro is one of the best national parks to visit in April because that’s when wildflowers are in full bloom. But If you’re looking to visit later in the season, you’ll be in luck as the cactus flowers of the giant saguaro cacti bloom between mid-May and early June.

Another plus is that peak season happens in winter due to its warmer weather, so you’ll see fewer crowds in the park during the spring. 

USA Best US National Parks to Visit in Spring - Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Spring is also a great time for wildlife viewing. It’s possible to see Gila Monsters underfoot and keep an eye out for Rattlesnakes too. Bird watching is great fun with Gila-Woodpeckers and Gilded Flickers.  

You can hike, bike, or drive through the park. Some of the best hikes in Saguaro are Loma Verde Loop and the Freeman Homestead Trail. Or give your feet a rest on the scenic drive of the Cactus Forest Loop.  

Entrance Fee: $25 for private vehicles, valid for 7 days. 

5. Death Valley National Park

Location: California/Nevada  

A visit to Death Valley National Park is a truly unique experience. How often do you visit the hottest place on the planet? Well, okay, it’s not advised to head there during the summer months when temperatures are known to reach over 120°F.

Instead, consider early spring when mild temps in the low 80s make exploring the best hikes in the park ideal.  

USA Best US National Parks to Visit in Spring - Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada

Blooming wildflowers also make Death Valley one of the best national parks to visit in March and April. One can hope for a super-bloom when the conditions are just right for colorful flowers to blanket the valley. To learn more about the wildflower bloom and your chances for a super-bloom, check out the NPS website.  

Entrance Fee: $30 for private vehicles, valid for 7 days 

ProTip / Seasonal Closures: For up-to-date alerts and conditions, visit the National Parks Service website.

6. Redwood National Park

Location: California  

Redwood National Park is hands-down one of the best places to visit in spring. It’s here that you can see some of the tallest trees on the planet. It’s so special that it’s even designated a UNESCO Heritage Site.  

Although the Redwoods are a favorite destination year-round, it’s during the spring season that’s really special. The first key thing is that there are fewer crowds than in the summer. It’s also less wet and rainy than in the winter. Early spring sees temperatures in the 40s and 50s. But by late spring, you’re likely to see temps in the 60s and even 70°F. 

USA Best US National Parks to Visit in Spring - Redwood National Park, California

Spring brings the reawakening of nature. It’s the best time to see blooming wildflowers and wildlife viewing of bald eagles, Roosevelt elk, and even sea lions out on the nearby beaches.    

Redwood has one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the country. You’ll love driving along the Redwood Coast, where you’ll see both the old-growth trees and the stunning Pacific Coastline. And if you head inland, you can find hidden gems to hike right off the highway.  

Entrance Fee: $30 for private vehicles, valid for 7 days 

7. Big Bend National Park

Location: Texas 

One of the key things to do in Big Bend National Park is to hike its killer trails over the desert terrain. That’s why it’s one of the best national parks in spring. It’s during the cooler weather of the spring season that conditions are ideal for hiking, not like in the summer when it’s just too darn hot.

You’ll have tons of sunshine and daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s °F. It can even reach 90°F late in the season. 

USA Best US National Parks to Visit in Spring - Big Bend National Park, Texas

Spring is also the perfect time to kayak the Rio Grande or soak in the Langford Hot Springs. Bluebonnets bloom throughout texas in the springtime, so you can’t miss them. On the drive to Big Bend and in the park, you’ll see how they color the landscape. 

Far from the light pollution of cities, Big Bend is a fabulous place to stargaze. To get the best views of the night sky, consider camping in the park.  

Big Bend is a favorite destination during Spring Break, so make sure to plan accommodations well in advance as options within and close to the park are limited.  

Entrance Fee: $30 for private vehicles, valid for 7 days. 

8. Joshua Tree National Park

Location: California 

As a national park in a desert setting, springtime is just about the perfect time to visit Joshua Tree. It’s when you’ll have cooler weather than in the summer, reaching up into the 70s and 80s during the day.  

USA Best US National Parks to Visit in Spring - Joshua Tree National Park, California

The other major advantage of visiting Joshua Tree National Park in the spring is that you’ll get a chance to see the beauty of spring in bloom. Flowers from cacti and desert plants are in full force during the spring. You’ll see blankets of yellow and white flowers dotted with bright blues and reds too.

Lucky for us, the wildflowers tend to bloom at lower elevations beginning in February, while upper elevations will see peak flowers blooming closer to June. This way, you’re likely to see colorful flowers at any time of the spring season.  

Spring is also a great time for wildlife viewing in Joshua Tree. Keep an eye out for white-tailed antelope squirrels, lizards, and coyotes.   

Entrance Fee: $30 for private vehicles, valid for 7 days 

9. Arches National Park

Location: Utah   

Arches National Park is another top-of-the-list best US national park to visit in the spring. And many people agree! This beautiful landscape is great to see any time of the year, really. But the springtime is when the temperatures begin to warm up, averaging between 60-80°F. So it won’t be too hot, like in the summer, or too chilly, like in the winter.  

USA Best US National Parks to Visit in Spring - Arches National Park, Utah

With perfect temps and lots of sunshine, you’ll be set to explore the park and see the awesome geological formations. Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch are the ones not to miss. But they can become really crowded during the spring. It’s probably best to see these when it’s a bit less populated, like first thing in the morning. After that, head to other places in the park, such as High Park Avenue.  

You will love the trip along Scenic Drive Road. You can keep stopping at various viewpoints to your heart’s content and really take it all in.  

  • A large event that happens annually in the Spring to be aware of is the Easter Jeep Safari – around these dates, Moab can be exceptionally busy, and you may find a shortage of affordable accommodation options for families.

Entrance Fee: $30 for private vehicles, valid for 7 days.   

Entry Times: Between April 1 and October 31, 2024, timed entry tickets are required to enter the park from 7 am to 4 pm daily. Buy tickets online at Recreation.gov. To learn more about the process, visit go.nps.gov/ArchesTicket 

10. Zion National Park

Location: Utah  

Let’s be real, Zion National Park is on everyone’s bucket list. The truth is that, YES, it really is that awesome! You should definitely make it happen. So, why not make the trip for spring break?  

USA Best US National Parks to Visit in Spring - Zion National Park, Utah

During the springtime, you’ll have lots of sun and warm temperatures, perfect for hiking and getting to key spots like Angel’s Landing. If you are a hiking fanatic, The Narrows is super cool to conquer, just come prepared with the right gear to hike in the water, which is colder in the spring.  

Zion has so many different trails for every hiking level. So you can definitely find the best hikes that are right for everyone in your family.  

Entrance Fee: $35 for private vehicles, valid for 7 days. 

Entry Permits: If you’re planning to visit Angel’s Landing be aware that you’ll need to enter the seasonal lottery some months in advance. The Spring lottery opens 1 to 20 January. Only a limited number of hiking slots are made available a day in advance.

Pro Tip: Consider parking in Springdale and taking the free shuttle to Zion. It’s the best way to bypass the crazy traffic getting into the park. The shuttle runs from March to October.  

Top Tips For Planning A Road Trip In Spring   

  • Springtime weather can change suddenly. Stay informed with weather alerts during your road trip. NPS.gov is a great place to check for alerts and road closures in the park.  
  • Many of the best US National Parks to visit in spring have mild, sunny weather. But rain and wind are major possibilities. Always carry a light shell jacket to help protect you from either.  
  • Many national parks in the US change from winter to summer operating hours during May; this can include the re-opening of ranger huts and activities, as well as a change to needing entry permits in advance so plan your late spring national park road trip carefully with this in mind!  

More US National Park Inspiration

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