US Southwest National Parks in April

Enjoy stunning landscapes and outdoor activities when visiting the US Southwest National Parks in April. Check out these vacation ideas for visiting US Southwest National Parks in the spring that include guides, tips, activities, and packing checklists to help you plan your vacation for the month of April!

The American Southwest is a region filled with unique landscapes to explore and photograph, as well as cultural attractions to learn about the history of the region.

Southwest USA National Parks in April

National Parks should be on your list of April vacation ideas in the US. We have teamed up with other travelers to share what it’s like visiting specific Southwest National Parks in April.

The number one tip we have is to be prepared for the weather and temperatures for the time you’ll be visiting. Each park will have different conditions in April so it’s important to check the weather in advance!

Use our Spring Packing List for National Parks to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in the spring! 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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Spring Gear for Southwest National Parks

We want to stress again that when planning your spring vacation in the Southwest USA, remember that conditions vary on the location and elevation of each National Park. Be sure to check the specific park website for more detailed information about visiting in April!

Here’s a list of spring clothing we recommend for most of the Southwest National Parks in April. It’s important to stay hydrated and use sun protection when visiting any of these parks in the spring!

spring hiking gear

US Southwest National Parks in April

If you’re planning a US National Park vacation, be sure to check out the US National Park Pass: the cost, how it saves money, and where you can buy the pass.

There is one National Park Free Entrance Day in April, usually the first day of National Park Week. This free entrance day applies to ALL National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee!

NOTE: There is one National Monument and three US National Parks requiring reservations during the month of April in the Southwest.

  • Muir Wood National Monument – Parking Reservation
  • Arches National Park – Timed Entry Ticket
  • Yosemite National Park – Timed Entry Ticket beginning mid-April weekends and holidays AND Hiking Permit for Half Dome
  • Zion National Park – Hiking Permits for Angels Landing chains section, Left Fork Subway, and 16-mile Narrows Trail

We have teamed with other travelers to provide this list of Southwest National Parks to visit in April in these states: Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming/Montana.

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon

Arizona National Parks in April

Exploring Arizona’s National Parks in April is an amazing experience. The spring season brings pleasant weather and colorful wildflowers that make the already beautiful landscapes even more breathtaking.

This time of year is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts looking to hike, photograph, and soak in the serene beauty without the intense heat of the summer months.

Grand Canyon National Park in April

Although Grand Canyon National Park is open year-round, April is easily one of the best months to visit! While some areas on the North Rim still experience some winter weather patterns, the majority of the park has fantastic hiking weather, without the crowds seen in the summer months.

In April, many parts of the North Rim are closed to through traffic, but the South Rim is open for hiking and camping in several campgrounds. Desert View Drive is a must-see US National Park scenic drive!

Reservations for the park are only needed for overnight events during April. All day use reservations can be purchased in the park on the same day as arrival. 

One of the best hikes in Grand Canyon National Park is the South Rim trail. This is also one of the few trails in the Grand Canyon that is dog-friendly, making it a great opportunity for those bringing their furry friends. (Recommended by Jess, Travel + Tannins)

Grand Canyon Lodging & Tours

Petrified National Park in Arizona
Petrified National Park

Petrified Forest National Park in April

Petrified Forest National Park is a colorful array of reds, oranges, purples, and pinks. This national park in Arizona is special because it has one of the greatest concentrations of petrified logs in the world. Adults and children alike will be excited to see the many fossils and one thousand-year-old petroglyphs.

April is a great time to visit Petrified Forest because the temperature is not too high. In the summer this park can get miserably hot while in the winter it can be uncomfortably cold. However, in April temperatures range from 60-70°F during the day. 

The park is very easy to get to on a cross country road trip. Interstate 40 cuts the park into northern and southern halves. While this may seem unfortunate, its proximity to the highway makes it very simple to visit. On the northern side, the Painted Desert Visitor Center kicks off the start of a 28-mile paved road through the park with many pull outs for short walking trails and viewpoints. (Recommended by Taylor, TayTrumTravels)

Lodging & Tours Near Petrified Forest

Saguaro National Park in Arizona
Saguaro National Park Sunset

Saguaro National Park in April

When visiting national parks in the southwestern US in April, Saguaro National Park should be at the top of your list. Weather conditions are still tolerable in the Sonoran Desert in April, so you’ll be able to hike and explore comfortably. You won’t need any timed entry or reservation to visit.

April is one of the best times to visit Saguaro for wildflower blooms, and you might even see the saguaro cacti begin to bloom at the very end of the month.

When you visit, be sure to visit both the east and west sides of the park. Begin your day on the west, taking the scenic drive and hiking a few short trails. End your day in the East District. Pack your camera gear to photograph the sunset from the rocks above the Javelina Picnic Area. (Recommended by Samantha, PA on Pause)

Saguaro National Park Lodging & Tours

Death Valley National Park in California
Death Valley National Park

California National Parks in April

Visiting California National Parks in the spring is a fabulous time to go! The April weather in California can’t be beat! Temperatures typically range between 50°F to 70°F, making it an ideal time for exploring the outdoors.

We recommend adding any of the National Parks and National Monuments in this state to your California Bucket List!

Death Valley National Park in April

Death Valley is one of the US Southwest National parks that is best enjoyed only during select months, making it one of the best California National Parks to visit in the spring. While the park can be visited year round, summer brings dangerously high temperatures, so it’s recommended to only visit between October and May. The sweet spot of the year however, falls in April. 

There are tons of activities available for guests visiting Death Valley in April. Top choices include wandering the sand dunes of Mesquite Flat, stopping at Zabriskie Point, taking an otherworldly drive through Artist’s Palette, and exploring the iconic Badwater Basin Salt Flats

It is best recommended to stay a night or two in the national park to get the full experience. There are a couple of hotels in the park, and there are campsites available as well. All overnight stays should be planned in advance to ensure you get to experience this national park in one of its most beautiful months. (Recommended by Olivia, Girl With Blue Sails)

Death Valley Lodging & Tours

Joshua Tree National Park in California
Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park in April

Joshua Tree National Park is the perfect stop on an April Southwest USA road trip. Spring is one of the best times to visit Joshua Tree as the temperatures typically stay in the 70s during the day and in the 40s at night. This is perfect for hiking and exploring this beautiful park.

If you are taking a road trip through California or the southwest, a day trip to Joshua Tree can be the perfect amount of time to spend in the park. It’s also a great spot for a weekend trip or a longer trip if combining it with nearby Palm Springs.

Make sure to drive along Park Boulevard to see plenty of Joshua Trees, but don’t miss out on hiking to Arch Rock while you are in the park. Heart Rock is another nearby hike to combine with Arch Rock as well.

Stop by Skull Rock where you can pull off the road and see it from there, and take a stroll through the Cholla Cactus Garden at sunset or sunrise for the best lighting. Queen Valley Road is a beautiful drive as well through an unpaved and lesser visited section of the park. No matter how much time you have, Joshua Tree is worth a visit. (Recommended by Christine, Live Love Run Travel)

Joshua Tree National Park Lodging & Tours

Muir Woods National Monument in California
Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument in April

Located near San Francisco, California, Muir Woods National Monument is a natural paradise and home to the Redwood trees. The coastal Redwoods are some of the world’s tallest and oldest living trees, many over 600 years old and reaching heights of over 350 feet.

The park is open year-round, from 8:00 am to approximately 30 minutes before sunset. There are two separate tickets: one for car parking and the other for entrance into the park. The park entrance tickets can be bought at the gate, but parking reservations must be made at least a week in advance as they run out quickly. For those who can’t drive to the park, there is a shuttle service from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, but it does not run daily.  

April is the perfect month to visit Muir Woods because the weather will be warm and temperate without the rush of the summer crowds. The main activity in Muir Woods is to explore its many hiking trails, and April provides the best climate to do so, whereas the Winter can get too cold and the Summer too hot. 

Some of the best spring hikes at US National Parks can be found here: Muir Woods Main Trail and the Canopy View Trail. The Main Trail is the easiest and also accessible to wheelchair users and strollers, making it perfect for those with low mobility. It takes visitors around the forest floors to admire the magnificent redwoods. The Canopy View Trail is more strenuous but takes visitors above the canopy to a bird’s eye view of the forest. Visitors cannot go wrong either way, and Muir Woods should be a part of everyone’s national park bucket list. (Recommended by Shar, SightseeingShar)

San Francisco Lodging & Tours

Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park in April

From driving through fallen-down sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park to oddly running into a herd of Bison while camping on Catalina Island, California is full of fun unique adventures to be had! 

With so many things to do in this giant state, Pinnacles National Park often gets left off the bucket list. But those who leave it off are the ones who are missing out! This park has some of the most unique hikes in the state including talus caves and nearly vertical ladders carved into the rock face.

Pinnacles is one of the best places to see wildlife at US National Parks. It’s home to the largest vulture in the world, the endangered California Condor and you might just get the chance to see one flying overhead.

If you want to spend the night here, there is also a lovely campground with a pool which can be found at the park’s east entrance. Due to its geographical location it can get really hot here in the summer (I’m talking over 100° F) but April is the perfect time to visit where you can really enjoy the trails without having to worry about heat exhaustion or rain. (Recommended by Ellen, Journeys In Focus) 

Where to Stay Near Pinnacles National Park

Redwood National Park in California
Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park in April

Redwood National and State Parks are often overlooked for some of California’s more popular parks, like Yosemite or Joshua Tree, but this is a huge oversight. Redwoods has an impressive claim to fame—almost half of the world’s old-growth redwoods, the tallest living organism on the planet, are located inside the park’s footprint! 

April is one of the best times to visit the national park—the primeval forests are lush and green from the springtime showers and, while it never really gets too busy here, you’ll likely get a lot of trails completely to yourself. 

While you’re here, be sure to check out some of the incredible hiking trails here, like the Fern Canyon Trail in Prairie Creek State Park. This trail truly has it all—a beautiful forest, abundant wildlife (keep your eyes peeled for Roosevelt elks here), and a canyon, dripping with lush ferns. Alternatively, the Karl Knapp Trail, also in Prairie Creek, leads you through a grove of redwoods, towering over 300 feet tall, and even two tunnels carved out of fallen trees. (Recommended by Jess, Uprooted Traveler)

Redwood National Park Lodging

Yosemite National Park in California
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park in April

Yosemite is a beautiful natural park that draws millions of visitors each year and is one of the famous California landmarks. May to September are the most popular months to visit Yosemite. But popularity brings crowds.

April means pleasant weather (though it can still rain at times) while avoiding the summer crowds at this national park. Most roads inside the park open up in April. A reservation is required at Yosemite only for weekends, that too in the second half of April.

There are a number of activities to add to your Yosemite itinerary. Valleys, waterfalls, giant Sequoia trees, hiking trails, Yosemite has it all. Enjoy the breathtaking landscapes from towering granite cliffs such as El Capitan and Half Dome.

Hikers, rock climbers, and outdoor adventurers love this park for its extensive trails. Hiking to the top of Sentinel Dome is by far Yosemite’s easiest way to experience fantastic views in all directions. There are more challenging hikes like the Mist Trail.

The waterfalls at Yosemite in April are flowing nicely after the spring snowmelt. Be sure to add Yosemite Falls to your US waterfalls bucket list! (Recommended by Shweta, Zest In A Tote)

Yosemite National Park Lodging and Tours

Rocky Mountain National Park in April
Rocky Mountain National Park in April

Colorado National Parks in April

April is an inviting time to visit Colorado’s National Parks, with the mild temperatures offering a perfect balance for those seeking to explore the great outdoors. However, be prepared for unpredictable weather, including the possibility of late snowfall.

The national parks in Colorado begin to reemerge from winter, blanketing landscapes in wildflowers and lush greenery. It’s a terrific time of year to fully enjoy the scenic trails and breathtaking vistas.

Rocky Mountain National Park in April

With 355 miles of hiking trails, there is no shortage of things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park, located 1.5 hours from Denver, Colorado. Three trails loved by locals are Emerald Lake, Sky Pond via the Glacier Gorge Trail, and the crystal-clear Lake Haiyaha. While most hikes are moderate in difficulty, the view of the lakes is worth the trip. 

Even in April, the weather in Rocky Mountain National Park is cold, with average highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s. The park sees snow through June, so don’t forget to pack your winter hiking gear like a down jacket and snow boots. 

In April, reservations are not required for Rocky Mountain National Park. However, a standard entrance pass is needed to enter. For the most up-to-date information about hiking conditions, head to Estes Park Mountain Shop. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable about the levels of snow on your desired hiking trails and will guide you on whether you should rent snowshoes or spikes for the day. (Recommended by Daniella, Sampler Platter Travel)

Rocky Mountain National Park Lodging & Tours

Red Rock Canyon in Nevada
Red Rock Canyon

Nevada National Parks in April

The weather in southern Nevada in April is characterized by mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine, making it an ideal time to explore the protected lands around Las Vegas.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in April

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada is not a US National Park, but is run by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It’s a destination that is right on par with the other Southwest National Parks on this list.

Located just 17 miles from Las Vegas, a visit to Red Rock Canyon is the perfect gambling-free activity to do near Vegas! Located in the Mojave Desert, Red Rock Canyon is known for its orange sandstone and fossil artifacts. While thousands visit year round, April is one of the best times to enjoy Red Rock. 

With temperatures ranging from the 40s to 60s, April is the perfect month to hike at Red Rock. Visitors will need to purchase a reservation ahead of time. There is a per car fee to enter, Red Rock is an affordable National Park to visit in Nevada.

One of the best ways to enjoy Red Rock is to take the 13-mile scenic drive. This is a great way to see the entire park from your car! Hiking is the most popular activity at Red Rock. For an easy and family friendly hike, Moenkopi Loop is a great choice. For those who aren’t afraid to navigate rugged terrain, Calico Tanks is an exciting trail. (Recommended by Rachel Mahar, Feelin Fancy)

Las Vegas Lodging & Tours

White Sands National Park New Mexico
White Sands National Park

New Mexico National Parks in March

There’s one fun National Park in New Mexico you should add to your Southwest USA bucket list. It’s a terrific spring destination, especially in the month of April!

White Sands National Park in March

White Sands is a unique national park known for white dunes of gypsum sand. Here’s a fun fact about this US National Park – it’s the largest gypsum dunefield in the world. It’s a dreamy place for photographers and anyone who loves exploring nature. 

April is the perfect time to visit for mild weather. It will be warm during the day and cool at night, and you’ll have less crowds than if you were to visit during the summer. 

The best things to do in White Sands include sledding  the dunes, hiking the trails, taking the scenic drive, bringing a picnic and watching a sunrise or sunset. 

There are no reservations needed to visit this park and you can see most of it in one day. It’s a great park to visit during a New Mexico road trip and should be on your national park bucket list! (Recommended by Lydia from Lost with Lydia)

Where to Stay Near White Sands National Park

Big Bend National Park in Texas
Big Bend National Park

Texas National Parks in April

Visiting the Texas National Parks during the spring means the weather starts to warm up, painting the parks in vibrant colorful hues. Enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, bird-watching, fishing, and beachcombing in April!

Big Bend National Park in April

Big Bend National Park in West Texas promises a wealth of attractions: excellent stargazing, jaw-dropping hiking trails, and diverse wildlife. But visit in April and you will find the park covered in flowering cacti and the iconic Texas bluebonnets! During spring, this park in the Chihuahuan desert transforms into a wildflower wonderland.

One of the highlights of Big Bend National Park is the Santa Elena Canyon! This natural wonder is carved by the Rio Grande River and is popular for hiking as well as kayaking. The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive takes you through the heart of the park. It provides access to many hiking trails, including the popular Lost Mine Trail and the Window View Trail. Big Bend is also one of the best places in the USA for stargazing, thanks to its remote location and minimal pollution. 

Weather-wise, visiting US National Parks in April is an ideal time plan your vacation. At Big Big you’ll enjoy warm days and cooler nights. Daytime temperatures hit the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit, making it perfect for hiking in the park. However, visitors should be prepared for cooler temperatures at night, ranging from 40 to 50 degrees. (Recommended by Ketki, Enchanting Texas)

Where to Stay Near Big Bend:

Guadalupe Mountains Pratt Cabin
Guadalupe Mountains Pratt Cabin

Guadalupe Mountains National Park in April

When’s the best time to explore the tallest mountains in Texas? April is the ideal time to hike the best trails, camp overnight, and avoid the crowds at Guadalupe Mountains National Park!

With its higher elevation and dramatic seasonal swings, Guadalupe Mountains sees its fair share of winter weather, including snow, ice, strong winds, freezing overnight temperatures, and frigid daytime averages. These conditions frequently last into March. 

On the other hand, with the arrival of summer in May, the temperatures warm significantly, making daytime explorations less comfortable. The average daytime temperature in April is 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with overnight temperatures in the 40 degrees Fahrenheit. These mild conditions create the perfect environment for both daytime activities and overnight camping.  

April is the perfect month for hiking the exceptionally rugged trails of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, including the highest point in Texas at Guadalupe Peak!  You can also check out historic buildings in the park, like the Pratt and Hunter Line Cabins, and the remnants of the Butterfield Overland stagecoach station. 

April is also the best month to take advantage of camping in one of Guadalupe Mountain’s two campgrounds, with views of the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert as well as the towering Guadalupe range! (Recommended by Kristen, Yonderlust Ramblings)

Where to Stay Near Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park

Utah National Parks in April

When visiting Utah National Parks in April the daytime temperatures perfect for outdoor activities. All five National Parks in Utah are popular spring break destinations so keep that in mind when planning your trip.

Spring activities in Utah National Parks include hiking, biking, canyoneering, scenic drives, landscape photography, stargazing, and more!

Capitol Reef National Park in April

Capitol Reef National Park is located in Southern Utah, and is one of the best US southwest national parks in April to visit for any type of traveler. This park has such a variety of activities compared to most of the parks which makes it perfect for anyone, and an awesome stop on a Southern Utah Road Trip.

The weather here in April is perfect. The mornings can be a bit chilly but by afternoon it’s warm and sunny, but not so hot that the hikes are unenjoyable like summers can be!

Another reason to visit Capitol Reef National Park in April is because the Gifford Homestead is only open from March 14th through the end of October. This means you can explore the old buildings on property, pick fruit at the orchard and enjoy the delicious freshly made pies!

Hiking is of course another popular activity at Capitol Reef National Park, and we recommend the Cassidy Arch Trail (3.1 miles), Rim Overlook trail (4.1 miles) or the Grand Wash Trail (5 miles). And once you’re tired from hiking, hop in the car and explore the Capitol Reef scenic drive. It’s 7.9 miles long and offers stunning views along the way. (Recommended by Adam and Kathryn, Adventures of A+K)

Capitol Reef Lodging & Tours

Zion National Park Kolob Terrace
Zion National Park Kolob Terrace

Zion National Park in April

Zion is the most-visited Utah National Park located in the southwest corner of the state. April will be crowded since it’s a popular spring break destination. But it’s one of the best times to enjoy a variety of things to do at Zion National Park in April like hiking, biking, scenic drives, camping, stargazing, and guided tours!

In April the shuttle runs every day and that’s the only way to access Zion Canyon so keep that in mind when planning the activities you wan to do! Be sure to check the shuttle schedule for exact operation hours. There might be limited parking at Zion National Park in the town of Springdale so plan to start your day early to get a parking spot in town and a spot on the shuttle.

April Zion National Park weather is picture-perfect. The days and nights are just right this time of year at Zion with highs in the mid-70s and the lows are in the mid-40s. The mornings and evening will be cool so you’ll want layers for all-day activities. It’s important to stay hydrated and if you’re not used to a dry environment you’ll find in Utah, keep lip balm and lotion with you!! (Recommended by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)

Zion National Park Lodging & Tours


national park guides and maps

National Parks by State List

There is no better vacation than exploring National Parks in the USA. To make it easy, we’ve created this list of National Parks by state. Get the free printable of the list by clicking the graphic below!

get the free national parks by state list

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