Best Spring Hikes at US National Parks

Spring is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors and discover all the beauty that US National Parks have to offer. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best spring hikes at US National Parks.

From easy strolls through lush forests to more challenging summit climbs, hiking in the spring is one US National Park vacation idea that will provide an unforgettable experience!

USA National Parks Spring Hikes

When looking for spring hiking ideas in the US, national parks offer countless opportunities to discover new places and experience the beauty of nature.

We’ve asked our hiking friends for tips and hikes to explore various US National Parks in the spring.

Check out this list of 60+ Best Hiking Trails in the US for even more adventure!

best hiking trails in all 50 states grab the free packet
This site contains affiliate links which means WE may receive commissions for purchases made through these links. We only provide links to products we actually use and/or wholeheartedly recommend! As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Read the full Disclosure Policy.

What to Pack for a Day Hike

spring hiking gear

US National Park, State Park, and Forest Service Hiking Trails in the Spring

Hiking is one of the best ways to experience and appreciate the outdoors in the US, especially during the spring season. The trails you find in the US national parks, state parks or forests let you explore mountain peaks, forests, and desert slickrock. 

The US National Park website, the local state park websites and US Forest Service website have all the information you need about hiking in the parks. Always check the individual park website, or Forest Service trail site, for current updates on trail conditions.

The Best Spring Hikes at US National Parks

Spring is one of the best times to explore the beauty of US National Parks, but the other three seasons offer unique experiences as well. Check out our guide for finding the best National Parks to visit by month. During each season and month of the year, national parks will have different hiking (and snowshoeing) opportunities!

Loop Road Acadia National Park
Loop Road

Acadia Hikes in the Spring

Acadia National Park is a gem for all seasons. As the only National Park in all of New England, it attracts locals and visitors from all over the world for a wide variety of outdoor sports, including a delightful array of hiking trails spanning 158 miles. 

Hiking Acadia in springtime means a plethora of wildflowers! You also might get lucky seeing some local wildlife — keep an eye out for loons and bald eagles.

The crowds of summer and leaf-peeping season in the fall won’t be filling the trails yet either, so you can enjoy some quiet serenity. That’s why visiting Acadia is one of the best things to do in spring in New England!

While the hiking trails start to clear up after typically snowy winters and a potentially messy mud season in DownEast Acadia, it’s smart to stay updated with Acadia Alerts so you’re aware of current conditions.

Top trails include The Beehive, Cadillac Mountain, and the Bubbles — Bubble Rock is a typically reliable springtime hike.

While there is a free shuttle service from Bar Harbor that encircles Acadia (The Island Explorer) it unfortunately doesn’t start service until June. 

Trail reservations are not required, but do note that not all NPS services are available in early spring. A Park Entrance Pass is required at any time of year; you can purchase it online or in person. 

The Carriage Roads are open year-round, but the Park Loop Road and paved roads only open in April, so just plan ahead for your Acadia adventure! Recommended by Amanda – Hey! East Coast USA

Acadia National Park Lodging & Tours

Windows at Arches National Park
Windows area at Arches

Arches Hikes in the Spring

The Windows in Arches National Park is one of the most scenic parts of the park. The trail offers many views of arches and cool formations without the demands of a strenuous hike. This would be a great hike to take in the spring, as the weather should be cooperative, and the temperatures will be mild (as opposed to the summer heat in the coming months). 

This hike covers about two square miles in the park. There are so many amazing arches and other formations to see in this section of the park. You can see the North Window, Turret Arch. From the same parking lot, you can easily visit Double Arch.

The trail itself is listed at 1 mile and is estimated to take 40-50 minutes to complete. This is not an overly difficult trail and has little elevation gain. There are some rocky steps to go over, but they aren’t too bad.

The Windows is definitely a highlight of Arches National Park that should not be missed! Be sure to check it out when you visit the park in the spring! Recommended by Candice – CS Ginger

Where to Stay Near Arches National Park

Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon Hikes in the Spring

Visiting Antelope Canyon is an experience like no other. Located in the American Southwest, this stunning slot canyon offers visitors a chance to explore its breathtakingly beautiful walls of sandstone and surrealistic formations created by water erosion over millions of years.

The canyon’s two main sections – Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon – are both incredibly photogenic and provide some of the best photography opportunities in Arizona. 

With its unique geography, diverse wildlife, and dramatic lighting effects that change throughout the day, it’s easy to understand why so many people flock to visit this spectacular natural wonder every year. Spring is the best time to visit the canyons – it has the best weather, smaller crowds, and spectacular views of the lighting effects in the caves. 

Since the canyons are in protected Navajo land, the only way to visit the Antelope Canyons is via a guided tour. Antelope Canyon Tours book up fast, so make sure you book it as soon as possible! The tours typically include the upper or lower canyon, but not both. If you can do both canyons, it is worth it (and rattlesnake canyon, too)! If not, the lower canyon has more of the iconic photos you may have seen.

Whether you’re an amateur photographer or just looking for a one-of-a-kind adventure, visiting Antelope Canyon in the springs promises lasting memories that will stay with you long after your trip has ended. Recommended by Kelsea – Out of Office Mindset

Where to Stay in Page, Arizona

Lost Mine Trail at Big Bend National Park
Lost Mine Trail

Big Bend Hikes in the Spring

Spring is the perfect time of year to visit Big Bend National Park in Texas! Winter gets very cold in this desert park & the summer can be absolutely sweltering, so spring weather is ideal for hiking the gorgeous trails of Big Bend.

No reservations are required to enter or day hike in Big Bend National Park. Backcountry permits are required for overnight backpacking.

With over 150 miles of trails, there are options for all skill levels and hiking distances. You’ll love the mountain desert scenery, hiking along the Rio Grande, and all of the plants & animals you’ll see.

A few hikes not to miss are Lost Mine Trail, Santa Elena Canyon Trail, & The Window Trail.

There is no shuttle service (or any other public transportation) in the park. You will need your own vehicle. Because spring really is the perfect time to visit, it is also a busy time. Lodging in the park is limited, but there are many places to stay near Big Bend just outside of the park. Book your accommodations well in advance & be sure you set out early to beat the crowds when hiking. Sunrise hikes can be spectacular! Recommended by Jody – My Travel Obsession

Where to Stay Near Big Bend:

Hiking at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Hikes in the Spring

Bryce Canyon National Park, known for its whimsical pink and orange rock spires (called hoodoos), is wonderful in spring, especially towards the end of the season. The park’s high elevation (9,100 feet above sea level) results in colder and snowier winters- but come spring, temperatures start warming up and the park springs back to life. 

While the park usually has a shuttle to help visitors combat the hectic parking in the summertime, crowds are minimal in the spring months—so while there’s no shuttle, you shouldn’t have a problem finding parking either. 

There’s quite a few beloved hikes in the park to check out. For example, the most famous hike in the park, Navajo Loop, dips below the canyon walls, with hoodoos soaring overhead. The trail’s famed Wall Street section consists of a series of tight switchbacks carved between two hoodoos, disappearing into a slot canyon below. While Wall Street is closed during the wintertime due to rockfall risk, this section reopens by late spring. 

Another incredible trail is the Fairyland Loop, which climbs along the rim of the canyon and eventually dips into the amphitheater itself. Along the way, you’ll pass impossibly green pine trees against the desert landscape and countless hoodoos, straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Just be sure to pack along a couple of warm layers- because of its elevation, it can get quite cool in Bryce, especially in the early morning or evening. Recommended by Jessica – Uprooted Traveler

Where to Stay Near Bryce Canyon

Crater Lake National Park in the spring
Crater Lake in the spring

Crater Lake Hikes in the Spring

Crater Lake National Park is one of the nicest US National Parks to hike in in the Spring. With it’s stunningly blue volcanic lake and majestic vistas from every angle, it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature. And as the only National Park in Oregon, it’s the perfect weekend hiking getaway!

The park has one main road, Rim Drive, which is a beautiful 33-mile drive around the entire park. All trailheads branch off from Rim Drive, so hikers can stop and enjoy the scenery from any of the 15 designated vista points as they make their way to the trailheads. If time allows, be sure to take a boat trip to Wizard Island, one of the two islets in Crater lake, and a truly unique and invigorating experience!

There are Crater Lake hikes for all levels. Beginner hikers will enjoy the easy hikes of Discovery Point Trail (2.5 miles), Plaikni Falls (2 miles) for an easy walk with a small incline at the end to waterfalls, Sun Notch Trail (0.8 miles) for a short walk to a wonderful viewpoint, and Pinnacles Valley Trail (0.8 miles) which is an easy flat hike featuring pinnacle-shaped volcanic spires.

More experienced hikers will enjoy Garfield Peak trail (3.4 miles) which is one of the most popular hikes, Cleetwood Cove Trail (2 miles) which is a steep hike down to a boat dock by the water, and Mount Scott Trail (4.2 miles) which ascends to Mt. Scott and offers amazing views of the lake from the highest point in the park. 

No trail reservations are required, but the park charges the standard National Park fee to enter. The park is open year-round, however, the park closes seasonally due to snow, so be sure to check out the park’s website for an update on current conditions before your visit. Recommended by Sumeeta – Sumeeta Seeks

Lodging and Tours Near Crater Lake National Park

Death Valley hiking
Death Valley hiking

Death Valley Hikes in the Spring

Hiking through Death Valley National Park in the springtime is an absolutely amazing experience. As one of the hottest and driest places in North America, Death Valley’s summers can be extremely hot, making spring the perfect time to explore its many trails. 

This huge park spans over 3 million acres and truly has something for everyone – from easy hikes to more challenging/technical routes best reserved for those with more experience.  

Entry into Death Valley National Park is relatively easy and reservations are not required year-round. However, if you plan on camping or staying overnight, it is best to secure a reservation ahead of time as some campsites may charge a small fee. 

Luckily, there are no shuttles needed to access trails within the park and most hikes are easily accessed by vehicle. The trail conditions within Death Valley National Park vary dramatically, and range from small rock-filled canyon paths, to rolling sand dunes, to wide open desert hikes. 

If you’re looking for easier hikes, I highly recommend going for either the Badwater Basin Trail (2 miles), Zabriskie Point (0.6 miles), or my personal favorite, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (2 miles). These trails are relatively easy and people of all experience levels enjoy these trails.  

For a more challenging hike, try Golden Canyon Trail (4 miles), Mosaic Canyon Hike (4 miles), or the Desolation Canyon Trail (3.6 miles). Just be sure to bring water, sunscreen, and some sturdy hiking boots.  

No matter which hike you pick, hiking in Death Valley National Park will provide you with a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in what is truly one of the nation’s most beautiful parks. Recommended by Pierre – Wayfare With Pierre

Death Valley Lodging & Tours

Sliding Sands Trail Haleakala National Park
Sliding Sands Trail

Haleakala Hikes in the Spring

Hiking inside Haleakala National Park doesn’t get much better than in the springtime.  Expect warm, sunny days with an occasional afternoon sprinkle.  There are two separate districts to Haleakala National Park – the Kipahulu District on East Maui and the Summit District atop Haleakala Crater.  These entrances do not connect and you will need two separate days to visit each district if you want to experience them both.

The Kipahulu District contains Maui’s most popular waterfall hike, the Pipiwai Trail.  Think waterfalls, bamboo forests, ancient banyan trees and a sculpted lava coastline.  The Summit District offers a range of hikes varying in difficulty.  Sliding Sands Trail shouldn’t be missed as it takes you down into the crater.  If you’re up for a challenge, connect Sliding Sands to the Halemauu Trail for a full days trek in and out of the crater.  It’s not everyday you get to hike inside a dormant volcano. Recommended by Jessica – I’m Jess Traveling

Haleakala National Park hiking trail
Haleakala National Park

The southeast Kipahulu region of Haleakala National park is home to some amazing hikes like the Pipwai trail hike. This unique hike passes through an amazing bamboo forest, a huge banyan tree, and several waterfalls. This 4-mile moderate hike has an elevation of around 900 feet and has quite a bit of natural steps of stone and tree roots. The hike passes through Makahiku falls and ends at Waimoku falls which is a stunning 400 feet waterfall. 

There is another hike in this region that takes you to the Pools of Oheo and has excellent coastal views. You will need to buy a National Park entrance permit to access both the Pipiwai trail and the Oheo Gulch trail. This entrance of Haleakala National Park is at the end of the famous Road to Hana and takes around 4 hours to reach from the resort area in West Maui. The unique bamboo forest makes the long drive and the hike totally worth it. Recommended by Anu – Destination Checkoff

Maui Lodging & Tours

Kilauea Iki Trail
Kilauea Iki Trail

Hawaii Volcanoes Hikes in the Spring

While travelers can visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park year-round, they’ll enjoy slightly cooler temperatures and fewer crowds in spring. To see the park, you’ll need to pay a USD 30 fee (good for seven days) or purchase an annual pass for USD 55. 

Kilauea provides the primary reason for visitation. Being one of the world’s most active volcanoes, it attracts scientists and travelers globally. To immerse yourself in the landscape of the Big Island’s national park, consider walking through the Thurston Lava Tube and hiking one of its breathtaking trails across its lava fields.

The popular Kilauea Iki Trail is a must-do for all hikers and is suitable for all hiking abilities. Expect to take two to three hours to complete the four-mile roundtrip trek into a cavernous crater.

The crater floor may seem relatively barren. However, the ʻōhiʻa lehua trees, with their striking red flowers, provide the first signs of life after the eruption. While the hike down offers shade from the scorching sun, remember to use sunscreen and carry lots of water to prevent dehydration inside the crater.

Alternatively, driving the Chain of Craters Road to Hōlei Sea Arch offers hiking trails across old, dry lava beds. Recommended by Karen – Forever Karen

Hawaii Big Island Lodging & Tours

Indiana Dunes National Park
Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes Hikes in the Spring

Indiana Dunes National Park is a popular destination for hikers, particularly in the spring when the temperatures are mild and the flowers are in full bloom. Located along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, the park offers over 15 miles of hiking trails that wind through sand dunes, woodlands, wetlands, and prairies.

One of the most popular hikes is the 3.6-mile loop trail that takes hikers through the Cowles Bog, a rare and fragile ecosystem home to various plant and animal species. Along the way, hikers can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding sand dunes and listen to the sounds of the nearby marsh.

For those looking for a longer hike, the Bailly-Chellberg Trail is a 5.3-mile loop that takes hikers through a historic area once home to early settlers. Along the way, hikers can explore the historic Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm, which offer a glimpse into what life was like in the area in the 19th century.

You can reach Indiana Dunes National Park via car or bus if you live nearby. If you’re coming from out of state, you’ll want to fly or take a train to Chicago, as it’s the largest nearby city. There’s no entry fee to the park itself, though visitors are encouraged to practice Leave No Trace principles and stay on designated trails to help preserve the park’s natural beauty for generations to come. Recommended by Rachel – WanderU

Indiana Dunes Lodging

Kenai Fjords
Kenai Fjords

Kenai Fjords Hikes in the Spring

Kenai Fjords National Park is a must-see destination for hikers visiting Alaska in the spring. Located just outside of the coastal town of Seward on the Kenai Peninsula, it is home to a variety of trails ranging from easy to difficult that offer stunning views of lush forests, snow-capped mountains, and the iconic Exit Glacier Trail.

There’s no need to reserve a trail ahead of time—just head down to the large parking lot located less than 10 minutes from the center of Seward just off Exit Glacier Road. You can even hop on a free shuttle to the park entrance if you’re staying at the nearby Seward Windsong Lodge!

Just be sure to pack plenty of layers as temperatures can vary drastically in the spring, from 60s at the park entrance to as low as the mid-20s atop the Harding Icefield Trail.

Trail conditions are best in the summer months between June and August when temperatures are comfortable and the chance of rain decreases, but if you’re up for the challenge and prefer to avoid other tourists on your hikes, then you’ll love the abundant wildflowers and uninterrupted views that accompany springtime. 

Wildlife sightings are also common in the spring, so visitors will want to come prepared with basic precautionary items including hiking bells, bear spray, and limit what food they carry on their person. Overall, Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the best US national parks to visit in the spring owing to its endless trails and abundant beauty. Recommended by Emily – Emily Embarks

Lodging on Kenai Peninsula

Mt. Rainier lake reflection
Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier Hikes in the Spring

Every Spring, more and more nature lovers head to Washington to enjoy a stunning hike near Seattle at Mount Rainier National Park in the Northwest, which is less than a 2 hour drive from Seattle, Washington.

Hikers looking for an easier trail will enjoy Nisqually Vista Trail, (1.2 mi. or 45 min. roundtrip) from the West end of the lower Paradise parking lot as well as Hot Springs Nature Trail, (0.5 mi. or 30 min. roundtrip) from behind visitor center at Ohanapecosh Campground.

Intermediate hikers will love Sourdough Ridge Trail to Frozen Lake, (3 mi. or 1.5 – 2 hrs) More advanced hikers and dare devils can follow Skyline Trail to Panorama Point which is 6.2 mi. and up 1,900’ and takes 3 – 5 hrs.

You don’t need a park reservation unless you are backpacking or climbing. The best way to get to and around the park is with a car as Mount Rainier does not provide a shuttle. The America the Beautiful pass will give you access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites for $80/yr. and free for people who served in the military, are disabled or a volunteer. Recommended by Joy – Real Girl Review

Mt. Rainier National Park Lodging & Tours

Olympic National Park hiking trail
Olympic National Park hiking trail

Olympic Hikes in the Spring

Olympic National Park has great hiking in the spring. While some trails in the mountains are still snowed in, the park features a number of different ecosystems so many areas of the park have excellent hiking in March and April.

You don’t need a reservation to enter the park or go on any of the hikes, but you will need to register if you plan on going into the backcountry. There are no shuttles at ONP, but plenty of parking is available for those who come early in the day. 

Great hiking trails that are accessible in the spring include Marymere Falls, Sol Duc Falls, and Mount Storm King. Some other trails, like Shi Shi beach, reopen in April.

Trail conditions in the spring can vary. Expect springtime rainy days in the Pacific Northwest, so as part of planning for ONP make sure to pack waterproof layers. Trails can be muddy with potholes. Some mountain areas, like Hurricane Ridge, can still be closed from the winter, so check park conditions before you set out. Recommended by Stephanie – History Fan Girl

Olympic National Park hiking
Olympic NP hiking

Olympic National Park spans over 2400 square miles and offers many trails and hiking opportunities that offer spectacular views of rainforests and waterfalls.

The most popular hiking trail in the park is the hike to Hurricane Ridge. It offers mesmerizing panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, and Vancouver Island. Despite being a short hike, the incline is steep. During the springtime, May to June, the rainforests are lush with ferns, mosses and a thick canopy of trees, providing safe shelter in case of rain. 

Hiking late afternoons allows an opportunity  to witness a magical sunset atop the clouds – truly breathtaking!

The entrance to the north of the park is open all through spring and summer from Friday to Sunday and costs approximately $15 per person or $30 per vehicle. To reach the trailhead, drive about half a mile past the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Centre until  the end of the road. 

In the event Hurricane Ridge entrance is closed, Lake Crescent is the closest alternative, leading to the Hoh Rain Forest, just a short distance from Hot Springs. 

Other hikes include Sol Duc Falls, Marymere Falls, Spruce nature trail and the hole-in-the-wall from Rialto Beach. Recommended by Karen – Travel Mad Mum

Olympic National Park Lodging

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park hiking

Rocky Mountain Hikes in the Spring

Ready to go hiking in US National Parks in the spring? If so then you can’t beat Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. After all, this stunning oasis of alpine terrain is brimming over with wildlife, many species of which have recently given birth. Therefore, you can see tons of baby animals strolling through the park. 

Plus, at lower elevations, you’ll see lots of lush vegetation and can walk through wildflower-dotted grassy meadows. Additionally, you’ll have the park all to yourself since peak season doesn’t start until June. Therefore, the months of April and May generally receive less than half the number of visitors that can be found in the park during the month of June. 

However, that being said, trails at higher elevations are still covered in snow and completely impassable. Plus, the park’s famous Trail Ridge is closed and won’t open until the end of May. 

Although, if you’re adventurous then you can always use this as a chance to try snowshoeing and explore some of the best hikes Rocky Mountain National Park is known for. Highlights include the Sprague Lake Trail, the Bear Lake Trail, the Emerald Lake Trail, and the Copeland Falls Trail.

You also don’t need a timed entry permit to enter the park in spring. However, you also won’t be able to use local shuttles which start running at the end of May. Recommended by Meg – Fox in the Forest

Rocky Mountain National Park Lodging & Tours

Blackrock Summit at Shenandoah NP
Blackrock Summit

Shenandoah Hikes in the Spring

Spring is a great time for hiking at Shenandoah National Park. As temperatures rise and wildflowers bloom, buttercups and wild azaleas line the hiking trails. Shenandoah National Park has more than 500 miles of hiking trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

The majority of hiking trails are accessible by way of Skyline Drive, the 105-mile scenic byway that runs north to south across the length of the park. Most trailhead parking lots are small, only able to fit five to 15 cars, so plan to arrive early. There is no park shuttle; you will need a car.

There are hikes for all levels along Skyline Drive, including a dozen waterfall hikes to reach popular waterfalls like Dark Hollow Falls and South River Falls. There are plenty of rugged summit hikes for big views too, including Blackrock Summit, Mary’s Rock and Lewis Peak.

More than a dozen hikes can be reached by way of boundary trailheads, which are not located on Skyline Drive, including Old Rag. This wildly popular hike requires a day-use ticket from March through November. This program was put in place in 2022 to ease crowding. Purchase a permit on for $1/person. Recommended by Erin – Go Hike Virigina

Yosemite Spring Hike
Yosemite in the spring

Yosemite Hikes in the Spring

Yosemite National Park is a great option for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the spring. With its breathtaking views, abundance of wildlife, and endless outdoor activities, it’s easy to see why spending even a day in Yosemite is so popular during this season.

In the springtime, visitors can enjoy flower-filled meadows by hiking the easy and paved Cook Meadows Loop trail. This trail will also bring you to the sight of the majestic Yosemite Falls!

Another iconic, and more strenuous hike, is the Mist Trail which leads you to Vernal and Nevada Falls. Be sure to wear hiking boots with a grip as the trail can get muddy and slippery when you get close to the falls.

Bring a picnic lunch or snack to eat when you summit the Mist Trail–the views of the valley from above are beautiful!

You can also either start your morning or end your day at Tunnel View and take in the view of Yosemite Valley. This classic viewpoint is a favorite among visitors and photographers alike.

To get to Yosemite National Park, fly into Fresno International and drive about an hour to Yosemite. Reservations are not required over the spring or summer, but the cost of entry per vehicle is $35. There are also park shuttles available from 7 AM to 10 PM and arrive between 8-22 minutes. Recommended by Pafoua – Her Wanderful World

Yosemite National Park Lodging and Tours

Zion Canyon Hiking
Zion Canyon hiking

Zion Hikes in the Spring

Zion National Park hikes are out of this world, so of course, they are on our list of best spring hikes in the US. Hiking is one of the best Zion National Park spring activities to explore the stunning landscape!

In the spring, the shuttle is the only way to access the hiking trails in Zion Canyon. There are a few Zion hikes without the shuttle to avoid the crowds.

Check current trail conditions at Zion in the spring for any closures that may be in effect. Zion National Park trails can close due to storm damage, high water levels, falling rocks, or any other unsafe condition. It’s a good idea to check with the rangers before hitting the The Narrows and The Subway trails in the spring to make sure the water levels are safe for hiking.

There are a variety of easy Zion National Park hikes for all age levels and abilities like Pa’rus Trail, Court of the Patriarchs, Lower Emerald Pool, and Riverside Walk.

The moderate to strenuous hikes in Zion include The Narrows, Angel’s Landing, The Subway, and Observation Point. Take note you’ll need an Angel’s Landing Permit to hike this trail any time of year. Recommended by Dave & Jamie – Photo Jeepers

Where to Stay Near Zion

National Parks packing list for spring summer fall and winter

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *