Visiting California National Parks in April

You’ll see forests, mountains, deserts, and coastlines when visiting California National Parks in April. When planning a vacation to visit the California National Parks in the spring, check out this list of things to see, do, and photograph at all nine National Parks!

The weather in California in April is just right — not too hot and not too cold. Flowers are starting to bloom, making for pretty views. Plus, it’s not as crowded, so you can have more fun exploring without bumping into lots of other people.

California National Parks in April

There are nine National Parks in California, more than any other state. In April, temperatures are generally mild, with daytime warmth perfect for hiking and cooler evenings ideal for gathering around a campfire. The transitional spring climate sees less rain and clearer skies.

Each California National Park has its own unique weather patterns and ecosystem, so be sure to check the specific weather conditions of the National Park you’re visiting in April and dress accordingly.

Use our US National Park Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for the specific park you’ll visit for the weather and temperatures for the time you’ll be there! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

National Parks packing list for spring summer fall and winter
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Tips For Planning an April Vacation to California National Parks

When planning a California vacation in April, be sure a National Park or two are on the list! Due to the varied climates and weather around the state, visiting National Parks in California during the month of April can be different depending on the location.

If you’re heading to the northern National Parks at high elevation, you might still need insulated winter clothing and layers for cold and snowy conditions in April. For the southern parks you’ll want a fleece jacket for cool nights. You might even need a rain jacket and waterproof hiking shoes in case of rain.

We recommend the Guide Along App to hear fun behind-the scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive around the California National Parks. It’s like having a Ranger in the car with you!

California National Parks in April

California is a terrific vacation destination any time of year. April weather is just right to enjoy the outdoors, and it’s still a good time to travel to beat the crowds! Check out this list of things to see, do, and photograph at all nine National Parks!

In April there are some National Park required reservations for Yosemite National Park and Muir Woods National Monument. It’s always best to check the specific park website for the most updated information for the time you’ll visit. We’ll detail the specific reservations needed below.

We asked our travel friends to share their tips, things to do, and experiences for planning an April vacation to the nine California National Parks.

Channel Islands National Park in April
Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park in April

Because of its isolation and unique wildlife, Channel Islands National Park has been called the Galapagos of North America. The park, located about 11 miles off the coast of Ventura, California, is comprised of 5 islands: Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. The islands are only accessible by boat, with Santa Cruz Island being the most visited. 

In April, boats leave regularly from Oxnard, Ventura, and Santa Barbara. However, visiting isn’t as easy as hopping on a boat, you need to plan. In addition to reserving a spot, you need to bring your own food, water, and any gear you may need. These islands do not have restaurants, hotels, or stores. But that’s what makes them so special. 

They are a wonderful playground for nature lovers and those who like to hike, snorkel, and kayak. Each island offers miles of hiking trails to explore the rugged mountainy terrain and take in the breathtaking vistas. When you return to the mainland, you can enjoy a delicious California cuisine dinner at one of the harbor restaurants. (Recommendation by Denise, Chef Denise)

Channel Islands Lodging & Tours

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park in April

Springtime is undeniably the best time of year to visit Death Valley National Park, with April being an ideal month to plan a spring trip. Spring in this National Park is synonymous with perfect weather for outdoor activities, both during the day and night. 

Daytime temperatures at Death Valley average in the high 80’s degrees Fahrenheit, a welcome respite before the arrival of scorching summer temperatures that begin in May. 

For those camping overnight and taking advantage of some of the best night sky viewing in the Southwest, overnight averages range in the moderate 60’s degrees Fahrenheit. Rain chances are also less frequent in April than earlier in the spring season.

Another major event happens at this desert US Southwest National Park – peak wildflower season. This stunning show of colorful blooms begins in March, and usually reaches its height during April. 

Other activities to enjoy in April include hiking the park trails, enjoying scenic viewpoints, and visiting the lowest point in the United States at Badwater Basin! You can even take this one step further by also visiting the highest point in the United States at Mount Whitney, located only a short hour away from Death Valley. (Photo and Recommendation by Kristen, Yonderlust Ramblings)

Death Valley Lodging & Tours

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park in April

Joshua Tree is one of the best national parks in California to visit in April. You can take a day trip to Joshua Tree from LA, San Diego, or even Las Vegas or to add it to a California road trip itinerary. Plus, the weather in April makes it the perfect time to visit.

April is a terrific time to plan a spring vacation in the Southwest to visit Joshua Tree National Park. Highs are in the 70s and 80s and lows are in the 50s, so it’s a great time to enjoy the hikes the park has to offer while staying cooler. With little chance of rain, you are almost guaranteed perfect weather in Joshua Tree in April.

While you are in Joshua Tree National Park, make sure to do the hike to Arch Rock. If you are up to it, add on the short hike to Heart Rock from here, but make sure to download AllTrails first as the trail is not well-marked.

Stop by the famous Skull Rock and drive Park Boulevard for some of the best views of the park’s namesake trees. If you are in the park at sunrise or sunset, the Cholla Cactus Garden is a must. It’s beautiful anytime of day, but they really light up when the sun is low in the sky. (Photo and Recommendation by Christine, Live Love Run Travel)

Joshua Tree National Park Lodging & Tours

Road to Lassen Volcanic National Park
Road to Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park in April

Most of Lassen Volcanic National Park remains snow-covered through May and into June. The weather in April can be unpredictable with warm, sunny days with occasional rain or snow storms. Average temperatures at the Manzanita Lake Area (5,800 feet) are highs 70 degrees F and lows 29 degrees F.

You can access the Manzanita Lake and Southwest Areas of the park all year. The highway through the park and the other outlying park roads remain closed in April due to snow.

In April, information, supplies, food, and gifts are available only at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. The Southwest Campground is open year-round. Visitors can camp on the snow or in a vehicle in the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center parking area.

Snow melt begins at the lower elevation areas of the park including Manzanita Lake, Butte Lake, and Warner Valley. Be aware that conditions change quickly in the spring. In April the Southwest Area is best for spring snow recreation like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. (Recommended by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)

Lassen Volcanic National Park Lodging

hiking trail at Muir Woods National Monument
Hiking trail at Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument in April

Parking reservations are required all year at Muir Woods National Monument. You will reserve a 30-minute arrival window, and are guaranteed a parking spot during that period. If you are in a standard sized vehicle, you are then welcome to stay until the park closes.

The Muir Woods Shuttle operates in April and carries visitors from off-site parking. Tickets are a small fee for guests 16 and older, while 15 and under are free. You need reservations for the arrival and departure ride, so don’t forget to make both! There is no wifi or cell phone service in the park, so download your tickets before you arrive.

The April temperatures at Muir Woods National Monument typically range from a cool 50°F to a mild 65°F. While the park’s towering redwoods often draw moisture from the fog, April may also bring sporadic rain showers, so it’s advisable to dress in layers and carry a waterproof jacket

Muir Woods is a fun Northern California vacation spot that’s known for their majestic coast redwoods, some of the oldest and tallest trees on Earth. Explore 6 miles of trails along three different hiking loops: 1/2 hour loop, 1 hour loop, and 1.5 hour loop. If you’ve got more time, hike the upper trails on the canyon walls to scenic viewpoints. (Recommended by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)

San Francisco Lodging & Tours

high peaks trail
High Peaks trail

Pinnacles National Park in April

Visiting Pinnacles National Park in April offers a unique and vibrant experience, as this period marks a splendid transition in the park’s seasonal landscape. Located in central California, Pinnacles is renowned for its fascinating rock formations, deep canyons, expansive caves, and wildlife, all accessible with spring weather.

April is particularly special because the park’s flora bursts into life, painting the rugged terrain with a sea of wildflowers. While the coast might still be chilly, the temperature inland is lovely during the day, making it ideal for hiking and exploring. It can still be cool at night, perfect for stargazing away from city lights.

The park’s diverse ecosystems are home to many wildlife, and spring is an excellent time for bird-watching enthusiasts. Pinnacles serves as a release site for the California Condor Recovery Program, and visitors might catch a glimpse of these majestic birds soaring overhead. The increase in daylight allows for longer hikes and more time to explore the park’s distinct features, such as the High Peaks and the Bear Gulch Cave, offering unforgettable encounters with nature.

For those planning to visit Pinnacles National Park in April, preparation is key to thoroughly enjoying what the park offers. Sturdy hiking shoes are a must-have due to the rugged trails, and bringing plenty of water is essential as temperatures can rise during midday. Park visitors should also use the ranger-led programs to learn more about the park’s geology, wildlife, and conservation efforts. (Photo and Recommendation by Alec Sills-Trausch, Explore With Alec)

Where to Stay Near Pinnacles National Park

Hiking through Redwood National Park
Hiking through Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park in April

Redwood State and National Park is beautiful at any time of the year, but especially in April. During the spring months, you’ll find gushing waterfalls while hiking in Redwoods State and National Park. Be sure to explore the Trillium Falls Trail and the Boy Scout Trail to get the best view of active waterfalls.

At Redwood National Park in April expect to experience cooler to moderate temperatures ranging from lows in the high-30s to highs in the high-50s. It’s also a great time to beat the summer crowds and see the park in its most lush and green state after the winter storms.

The national park is free to visit year-round, but keep an eye out for road and trail closures that can linger after winter is over. (Photo and Recommendation by Constance, The Adventures of Panda Bear)

Redwood National Park Lodging

Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park in April

April is an excellent time to visit Sequoia National Park, situated only several hours’ drive away from both Los Angeles and San Diego. This park is a worthy destination for anyone craving a spring break in nature.

April is a great time of the year to enjoy the park’s scenery via the many hiking and nature walks. The mammoth sequoia known as General Sherman is a must-see, as is the picturesque path winding through Congress Trail’s woods.

The temperature at Sequoia in April usually averages around 60 degrees F during the day, though this does greatly depend on what elevation you are in. Also, be sure to note that snow can still be seen in April in the mountains, and some attractions and roadways may be closed. However, the growing daylight during spring allows visitors to enjoy the park for more hours than winter visitors.

The entry fee Sequoia National Park (or the US National Parks Pass) also grants you access to Kings Canyon, providing the opportunity to explore two parks at the price of one. A springtime getaway to Sequoia National Park is an excellent choice for anyone in Southern California! (Photo and Recommendation by Monica, This Rare Earth)

Sequoia & Kings Canyon Lodging

Yosemite National Park in the spring
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park in April

April is a great time to visit Yosemite National Park, with mild weather and gushing waterfalls from the springtime melt. 

The most popular place to visit in the park is the Yosemite Valley, where you have your choice of activities—from driving to epic viewpoints, like Tunnel View or hiking along trails to enjoy the spectacular views of the waterfalls pounding down the granite cliffs, like the Valley Loop and Mirror Lake Trails. 

Higher elevation areas also become more accessible, due to the melting snow. For example, the road to Mariposa Grove, the largest concentration of giant sequoias (the most massive trees on the planet!) in the park, opens in April. This means you’ll get to explore trails in this section of the park, like the Mariposa Grove Trail, where you can wander under the canopy of over 500 giant sequoias.  

Just be aware that you may need reservations to access the park during certain days of the month. After April 13 you’ll need a reservation to access the park from 5 AM to 4 PM on weekends. (Photo and Recommendation by Jessica, Uprooted Traveler)

Yosemite National Park Lodging and Tours

California Bucket List

In addition to the California National Parks we’ve listed above, check out even more must-do activities that belong on every California Bucket List: things to see, do and taste all around the state! Grab the free download by clicking the graphic below!

California Bucket List optin

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  1. These are absolutely stunning. This has added quite a few different stops to my travel bucket list. Thank you for visiting Happy Hearts & Homes, I hope you stop by again this week.

  2. Oh my goodness, what a dream! I have only visited the Muir Woods and Redwoods from this list, but would LOVE to someday visit Yosemite. Our kids are young, so we need to wait until they’re a few years older and we don’t have to carry them for the hikes. What a great resource for visiting the California National Parks! Hopped over from the link party.

  3. I love visiting your blog with all your trips as this way I can armchair travel weekly.
    I visited you via Mama of Many Blessings: INSPIRE ME MONDAY #459
    My links: 66+67. We will be delighted if you share your blog post links with us at SSPS. Link under BLOGGING

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