If you want a spring break destination filled with outdoor adventure, we recommend you plan a US national park vacation.
When you visit US national parks in the spring, you may find pleasant temperatures, few crowds and colorful floral displays.
Spring is a terrific time to explore hiking trails, enjoy spectacular vistas and experience wildlife-viewing opportunities.
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Tips for a Trip to US National Parks in the Spring
There are fun national park activities going on during the spring:
We have teamed with other travelers to provide this list of must-see national parks to visit in the spring,
WHAT TO PACK FOR A NATIONAL PARK TRIP IN THE SPRING
Packing for a trip in the spring means being prepared for any type of weather!
1. US National Parks Pass
- You can order passes online or get them at any of these Federal Recreation Areas.
- → BUY THE PASS AT REI and they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.
2. Hiking Gear
- Spring hiking at some national parks may mean wet trails, and even some patches of snow! You’ll want waterproof hiking boots or shoes: → Check out our favorite Merrell Moab hiking shoes!
- Hiking socks that breath… and if they prevent blisters, that’s even better: → Check out the BEST SOCKS by Darn Tough!
- Walking stick or trekking poles
3. Clothing – Layers
- Wicking and quick-drying base layers
- Fleece or insulated jacket: → Columbia fleece jackets are our favorite!
- Waterproof rain jacket
- WATER: → Use refillable water bottles or a hydration backpack
- FOOD: → Check out our list of healthy snacks
- Flashlight or headlamp
- National Park maps
- Lip protection with sunscreen
- Polarized sunglasses
- Hand lotion
- Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Bags to pack out trash
- Cell phone
- Portable charger
- Guide books
- Camera Gear – DOWNLOAD the free camera gear checklist!
- Photography gear for hiking
SPRING BREAK US NATIONAL PARK TRIPS
Arches National Park
Spring is a fabulous time to visit Arches National Park. but we will warn you, beginning in March there are times when it’s VERY crowded! We have some tips for visiting Arches in the spring with good information on the best time of day to arrive to avoid traffic, and dates when the park will be busy due to holidays.
Avoid the crowds and visit Arches in the winter.
We visit Arches every year in the spring. Here’s our list of helpful tips:
Arrive early: You’ll avoid lines at the entrance gate if you enter the park before 9:00 am, or after 3:00 pm.
Cool hiking weather: We enjoy the Arches hiking trails during the spring when the weather is cooler, but not as cold as it is in the winter. You’ll want to dress in layers since the mornings and evenings get cold in the high desert elevation.
Arches photography: Taking photographs at Arches national park is a bucket-list activity. Use our guide to capture spectacular photos of arches, fins and other sandstone formations in this unique park.
Stargazing: Due to its remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies, Arches National Park is one of the best places to see the stars in the night sky. Beginning in March, you can also see and photograph the Milky Way.
- Arches National Park Travel Guide
- Arches & Canyonlands 3 Day Itinerary
- Arches in the Fall
- Arches in the Winter
- Arches National Park Hiking Trails
- Arches Packing List
- Where to Stay in Moab Near Arches
- Tours Near Moab, Utah
Where to Stay Near Arches:
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Arches.
- Purple Sage – our all-time favorite place to stay in Moab – walking distance to shopping, full kitchen, and only 8 units so you don’t feel lost in a large hotel. → Book the Purple Sage via Airbnb
- Red Cliffs Lodge – rooms up to 6 people – located 17 miles from Moab, this lodge is known for its beautiful location, winery and activities like horseback riding, fishing and more!
- Vacation Rentals – we really like rentals with a kitchen, washer and dryer and amenities like a swimming pool and hot tub.
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park in the spring. Photo Credit: Red Around the World
Badlands National Park Lodging & Tours
- Hotels in Wall, SD Near Badlands NP
- Vacation Rentals Near Badlands NP
- Tours Near Badlands National Park
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is in the far western corner of Texas, where the Rio Grande takes a sharp bend south. It’s nestled in this “big bend” along the border and offers some impressive and dramatic scenery.
Big Bend landscape in the spring. Photo credit: Sol Salute
It’s hard to get to but worth every hour spent in the car. If you’re going to spend an entire day in transit, it’s important to plan your visit properly.
Being in the heart of the Chihuahua Desert, visiting in spring (before the scorching temperatures of summer hit) is ideal. Afternoons will be warm and nights will be chilly, making it perfect for camping in the park’s many backcountry campsites.
Despite being in the desert, Big Bend actually houses an entire mountain range within its borders, The Chisos Mountains. Warm afternoons can be spent trekking on the best hikes in Big Bend in the cooler mountains. Hike the desert trails during the cool spring mornings.
Spring is also ideal because if the year was blessed with enough rainfall, you’ll be able to enjoy a blanket of wildflowers. Bluebonnets bloom across the fields bordering the highways, covering the ground in blue flowers for a scene you’ll never forget.
Photo and article by Sol Solute
Where to Stay Near Big Bend:
- Vacation Rentals in Marathon, TX Near Big Bend
- Hotels in Lajitas, TX Near Big Bend
- Tours Near Big Bend
Blue Ridge Parkway
Springtime along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo credit: Sand, Sun and Messy Buns
Great Smoky Mountains Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Great Smoky Mountains
- Vacation Rentals Near Great Smoky Mountains
- Tours Near Great Smoky Mountains
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park sits at a high elevation in Utah so the tall, orange hoodoos could be accented with snow in the spring. The weather can also be unpredictable so keep an eye on the forecast and know the current situations at the park. Be prepared with the right clothing for all types of weather at Bryce Canyon in the spring.
When you visit Bryce Canyon, be sure to hike the Navajo Loop Trail.
The unique beauty here is not replicated anywhere else which makes it a popular destination for photographing the views and landscape of Bryce Canyon. We recommend you drive the scenic road starting at Rainbow Point and working your way back toward the amphitheater.
Hiking or horseback riding among the hoodoos at Bryce is a must-do experience. One of our favorite hiking trails at Bryce Canyon is the Navajo Queen’s Loop.
Stargazing at Bryce Canyon is another must-do activity. Take the time to stay out one evening to see about 7,500 stars in the sky. There are astronomy programs which include viewing the stars with a telescope, and full moon hikes at the park. Check the NPS website for the full schedule.
Photo and article by Photo Jeepers
- Bryce Canyon Travel Guide
- Bryce Canyon Photo Spots
- Bryce Canyon in the Fall
- Bryce Canyon in the Winter
- Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail at Bryce Canyon
- Bryce Canyon Tours
Where to Stay near Bryce Canyon:
- 8 Popular & Unique Bryce Canyon Places to Stay
- Bryce Canyon Camping
- Vacation Rentals Near Bryce Canyon
- Best Western Ruby’s Inn – easy access right outside the park
- Best Western Plus – also right outside the park
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park in the spring is one of the more popular times people visit, especially around spring break. Be sure to enter the park before 9 am or later in the afternoon after 3 pm if you’ll be there during a busy time.
Milky Way overhead Mesa Arch at Canyonlands.
If you enjoy outdoor activities, there are plenty of things to see, do and photograph in Canyonlands Island in the Sky and Canyonlands Needles in the spring.
We recommend you take a side trip to visit and photograph the views from Dead Horse Point State Park. It’s a short distance from the Island in the Sky entrance and worth the quick side trip.
Stargazing at Canyonlands is a must-do. In the spring you might be able to see the Milky Way in the sky. It’s worth the effort to enjoy the park after dark!
Photo and article by Photo Jeepers
- Tips for Visiting Canyonlands National Park
- Things to Do at Canyonlands Island in the Sky
- Visit Needles Canyonlands
- Arches & Canyonlands 3 Day Itinerary
- Where to Stay Near Canyonlands
- TOURS Near Canyonlands
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park in the spring is a must. Not only will the crowds be a lot more manageable, but the weather will be way better (most likely) and you might even be able to see the orchards blooming!
View of Capitol Reef National Park. Photo Credit: Red Around the World
If you enjoy hiking, you’ll love the trails at Capitol Reef. While it may still be a little too cool to hike Sulphur Creek, there are plenty of other hikes to keep you busy. Cohab Canyon, Hickman Bridge, Capitol Gorge, Chimney Rock, and Cassidy Arch are just a few of the awesome hikes in Capitol Reef.
After you finish your hikes for the day, make sure you stop at the Gifford Home for some salsa, ice cream, pie, and cinnamon rolls. You may want to start your day there to make sure you get the goods before they’re sold out.
If you want to get away from the already minimal crowds, consider a trip down to the Waterpocket Fold about an hour and a half from the visitor center. Surprise Canyon, Headquarters Canyon, and the Strike Valley Overlook are three great hikes there. One thing to keep in mind is that it can get a little windy in the spring, but it’s still a great time to visit.
Photo and article by Red Around the World
Places to Stay Near Capitol Reef
- Capitol Reef Resort – this is where we stay! Make it a unique experience and stay in a teepee or covered wagon!
- Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel – basic rooms and cabins with a deli and store right on the property which is so convenient!
- Airbnb Rentals near Capitol Reef – we like finding a place with a kitchen so we can prepare our own food.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is a unique place, which is just totally different from any other place in the world. You just have to see it. Badwater Basin in Death Valley is a lowest elevation place in the whole North America (282 feet below the sea level). Death Valley is also one of the hottest places in the world and holds the world air temperature record – 134.1 °F (56.7 °C), which is the highest air temperature ever measured on the planet Earth.
The incredible view of Death Valley. Photo credit: Czech The World
Therefore, we recommend you to visit Death Valley in spring because the temperatures in the summer month are simply too high for full enjoyment.
Death Valley should be added to any road trip around the USA. The landscape doesn’t have foliage, but the desert scenes are stunning and you will feel like you’re on a different planet.
Probably the most beautiful place is Zabriskie Point with very unique and colorful landscape formations. The colors are particularly beautiful after sunrise and before sunset. Definitely visit Badwater Basin too – the lowest elevation point in North America.
Because the park is remote and away from all the cities, there is no light pollution and the night sky is simply the best! We have never seen a more beautiful night sky than in Death Valley. You can spend hours stargazing and taking pictures of the Milky Way.
We recommend you always have enough water and protect yourself from the sun with a hat and sunscreen when visiting Death Valley.
Photo and article by Czech The World
Death Valley Lodging & Tours
Everglades National Park
While many national parks can still be covered in snow and have limited activities in the spring, Florida’s Everglades National Park is the perfect place for a spring vacation. We visited the Everglades in March and were thrilled with the awesome warm weather and wealth of things to do on our trip. I recommend spending some time at each of the visitor centers to see everything the park has to offer.
Anhinga Trail Boardwalk at Everglades National Park. Photo credit: Wanderlust While Working
Some activities include a guided boat tour through the Ten Thousand Islands, renting bikes to ride through Shark Valley, and walking the Anhinga Trail to catch a peek at some of the many species of wildlife that inhabit the 7,800 square miles of park. The best part is that the park doesn’t feel too crowded in the spring and is warm without the overly oppressive heat of a Florida summer.
Photo and article by Wanderlust While Working
Everglades National Park Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Everglades National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Everglades National Park
- Tours Near Everglades National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is located near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The jutting peaks of the Teton Mountains are the main attraction here. Always check road conditions and road status. It’s not uncommon for a late spring snow storm to close roads, even after they’ve opened for the season.
Mama bear with two cubs at Grand Teton National Park.
Early spring can also mean snowy and muddy hiking trails. Depending on the weather, the lowland trails can start to dry out by mid-to-late May.
Mid-May through late June is the best time to visit when the foliage is bright green, the wildflowers are in bloom, the mountain peaks are still snow-covered and the wildlife is active.
Taking photos of Grand Teton National Park is one of our favorite things to do, and you’ll have no shortage of stunning landscape scenes or wildlife to photograph in the spring.
Photo and article by Photo Jeepers
Where to Stay in Jackson near Grand Teton:
- Elk Refuge Inn – this is right across from the refuge and the closes hotel to the park entrance – our favorite place to stay!
- Elk Country Inn – awesome property if you want to be in town.
- Jackson Apartment with Full Kitchen – we LOVE having a kitchen to prepare our meals!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains are a perfect Spring Break destination. Spring is off peak season. Peak travel for the Smokies coincides with the autumn foliage and mid-summer when schools are not in session. This leaves visitors to the mountains with reasonable accommodation rates in spring as many would rather throng to the beaches of Florida.
Great Smoky Mountains is a spring break family destination. Photo credit: The House That Never Slumbers
Entry to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free year round. The mountains are beautiful when the wild flowers begin to bloom. Hikers on the vast array of trails throughout the park enjoy more comfortable temperatures in the months before the scorching summer.
The area surrounding the Smokies houses every tourist attraction you could possibly imagine from go-carts and ziplines to shows and shopping. You could fill an entire week without spending a dime on activities though if you take advantage of the free attractions within the national park like Cades Cove, the Sugarlands Visitor Center, or the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
You will never have trouble finding great food. Check out our list of best cheap dats in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for recommendations on family-friendly dining. The Great Smoky Mountains do not disappoint regardless of your age or interests because there’s just so much to see and do.
Photo and article by The House That Never Slumbers
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is filled with trees and boulders that go on for miles. It is an easy place to fall in love with due to its unique landscape and beautiful trees. But because of its hot climate, it can be difficult to visit this national park year-round.
Explore Joshua Tree National Park in the spring. Photo credit: The Wandering Queen
Spring is the best time to visit Joshua Tree. The weather is pretty mild, and wildflowers are blooming. One of the best things to do in Joshua Tree is to go rock climbing. This national park is known for its bouldering and sport climbing walls. It is one of the most popular activities in the park.
You can also go hiking and explore the different shapes and sizes of all the boulders and trees. One of the most popular trails is Skull Rock and Arch Rock.
Another fun thing to do is to stargaze at night. There is little light pollution and usually little cloud cover in, so you have a great chance to see the bright stars at night. Joshua Tree really is a one of a kind national park.
Photo and article by The Wandering Queen
Joshua Tree Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Joshua Tree National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Joshua Tree National Park
- Joshua Tree NP Tours
Mount Rainier National Park
Although some portions of Mount Rainier National Park are closed in early spring, we still think it’s a perfect time to visit. Many of Mount Rainier’s annual visitors wait for summer, which means smaller crowds for you! Not to mention, during spring, waterfalls are at their peak, wildflowers are beginning to bloom in the lowlands, and a thick, white blanket of snow still covers her towering peaks.
Mount Rainier with snow in the spring. Photo credit: The Stoke Fam
One stop to strongly consider during your stay is the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise. It’s a great place to learn more about the area and even join in a Ranger-led Program! Hours vary, but at a minimum, it is open on weekends year-round. Depending on your dates, you may even be able to go sledding or snowshoeing!
For a unique way to experience the beauty of the region, try a train ride through the foothills on the Mt. Rainier Railroad. Or, as we often do, head to nearby White Pass Ski Area to go snowboarding with your kids.
When “the mountain is out,” we think there is no better way to see her in all her glory than from the top of the slope before a killer run.
Article by The Stoke Fam
Mt. Rainier National Park Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Mt. Rainier National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Mt. Rainier National Park
- Tours Near Mt. Rainier National Park
Mount St. Helens
If you are interested in learning about the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, there is no better time to learn about it than during the anniversary of the event. Although you will experience slightly cooler weather, it also means fewer crowds than in the height of summer.
Mt. St. Helens is beautiful in the spring. Photo credit: The Stoke Fam
With the opening of the Johnston Ridge Observatory in mid-May, it’s the perfect place to begin your late spring visit! The Johnston Ridge Observatory is hands-down one of the best visitor centers we have ever encountered. While there, take the time to learn about the geological changes leading up to the eruption and read the stories of those who died.
In addition, we highly recommend taking the time to watch “Eruption of Life,” a short film that tells the story of the eruption and how life is returning and even thriving in the wake of devastation. Even better, at the end of the film, the curtains lift, giving you a direct view into the crater.
Finish your visit with one of The Best Family Hikes in the Continental United States along the Eruption Trail for a day that is sure to make you appreciate the beauty and wonder of our world.
Article by The Stoke Fam
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best national parks to visit in the spring for many reasons. Rocky Mountain is a very popular national park and during the summer months, it can get quite crowded. If you are looking to experience the park with fewer crowds- it is best to visit in the spring.
Spring at Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo credit: Unearth the Voyage
Besides having fewer crowds to deal with, RMNP is blooming with wildlife, gorgeous wildflowers, and babbling rivers in the spring. It is the perfect time to go on a hike and see wildflowers in bloom. If you are looking for one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, we suggest checking out the hike to Sky Pond!
Another reason why visiting RMNP in the spring is so great is because you don’t have to deal with a ton of snow, but you still get to view the gorgeous snow-capped peaks that the Rocky Mountains are so famous for. You can also view the pretty sunsets without getting bit by a ton of mosquitos.
Besides fewer crowds, wildflowers, snow-capped mountains and fewer bugs, the spring is the best time to see all the waterfalls in full action! If you are planning a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, we highly recommend going in the spring!
Photo and article by Unearth the Voyage
Rocky Mountain National Park Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Rocky Mountain National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Rocky Mountain National Park
- Tours Near Rocky Mountain National Park
Saguaro National Park
If you’re looking for the best national parks to visit in the spring, then Saguaro National Park should definitely be on your list! This park is well-known for preserving the majestic Saguaro cactus and offers lots of incredible things to do and see.
Spring is the best time to visit Saguaro National Park. Photo credit: Happy Go Abi
Saguaro is a beautiful park to explore throughout the year; however, there are several reasons that make spring one of the best times to visit. First, during the spring the weather is warm but not sweltering (unlike the summer, when it would be unwise to hike much during the day). Second, and most importantly, visiting during the spring will treat you to the gorgeous sight of the landscape awash in color and wildflower blooms.
You’ll find April is one of the best times to see the wildflowers, while the saguaros begin to blossom in mid-May. Whether you plan to enjoy seeing the unique sights of the park like the petroglyphs on Signal Hill, or experience beautiful hikes like the Hugh Norris Trail and exploring the backcountry, there is beauty everywhere here that is only enhanced by the unique charms of the spring season. It is certainly a sight and experience not to miss!
Photo and article by Happy Go Abi
Where to Stay Near Saguaro National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone in the spring means fewer crowds, unpredictable weather, raging waterfalls, active wildlife and no annoying bugs! When visiting Yellowstone in the spring, it’s very common to enjoy sun and 60 degrees one day, then snow and bitter cold the next.
Mom black bear and two cubs at Yellowstone.
Be prepared for rain, snow, wind and trails that are wet and muddy. Dress in layers, wear hiking boots, and carry a warm jacket. If you plan to hike, be sure to pack bear spray, water, sunscreen, and rain gear. Use our Yellowstone packing list to help you as you plan your trip.
If you enjoy seeing wildlife, Yellowstone in the spring is the best because of all the babies! We usually plan our trips for May and June so we can see the bears with cubs, and the bison with red dogs. It’s an exciting time to be in the park. PLEASE respect the wildlife and obey the guidelines so everyone can enjoy the experience, both humans and animals!
Photo and article by Photo Jeepers
- Yellowstone Vacation Planner + 4 Day Itinerary
- How to Plan the Perfect Yellowstone Vacation
- Yellowstone in the Winter
- Visit Yellowstone in the Fall
- Yellowstone Waterfalls
- Yellowstone Tours
Places to stay in West Yellowstone that we recommend:
Places to stay in Gardiner that we recommend:
Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner – full kitchen and comfy bed, one of our favorite places to stay!
Park Hotel Yellowstone, Gardiner – charming place to stay and loved by guests!
Absaroka Lodge, Gardiner – beautiful location with river views!
Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate that we recommend:
Sunny Log Home on the Creek, Silver Gate (VRBO) – the most AMAZING location with an awesome fireplace and comfy bed!
High Country Motel and Cabins – local owners who love what they do, and make you feel so welcome!
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is one of the best national parks to visit specifically in spring, especially if you enjoy waterfalls. Spring menas the snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains begins to melt which feeds many beautiful waterfalls in and around Yosemite Valley. There are about 25 waterfalls in the Park.
Waterfalls are raging at Yosemite in the spring. Photo credit: Family Road Trip Guru
The tallest waterall is Yosemite Falls (2,425 feet!). You can see some of these waterfalls in summer, but in spring they are at their fullest and most spectacular state. All this water means you’ll see wildflowers and blooming trees and shrubs during the spring in Yosemite Valley.
Spring has optimal weather to visit Yosemite. It’s not as hot as summer when temperatures can reach over 90 F. In the winter it’s freezing cold weather and trails close because of snow. In early spring the weather is still cold and the snow has not melted yet to create the majestic waterfalls. We recommend planning a road trip to Yosemite toward the end of April through May.
Article by Family Road Trip Guru
Yosemite National Park Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Yosemite National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Yosemite National Park
- Tours Near Yosemite National Park
PLAN A US NATIONAL PARK VACATION
- National Park Vacation Ideas
- US National Park Bucket List Destinations
- List of National Parks by State
- Is the National Parks Pass a Good Deal?
- National Park Packing Lists for Summer and Winter
- 3 Day Itinerary and Photography Guide to Arches & Canyonlands
- Yellowstone Vacation Planner & 4 Day Itinerary