20 National Parks Where Spring Time Is Prime Time

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Our national parks are open all year, but some of them are particularly beautiful in the spring. If you’re planning some spring travel to national parks, you might want to put some of the following on your list. You won’t be disappointed.

These 25 national parks were selected because each offers a unique springtime experience that can’t be matched at other times of the year. With colorful wildflower blooms in the desert parks and roaring waterfalls fed by melting snow in the mountainous regions, these destinations provide spectacular natural phenomena. Additionally, spring temperatures are usually more moderate, making outdoor activities more enjoyable to get out and enjoy the beauty!

1. Olympic – Washington

Olympic National Park, Washington, USA
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Summer is peak season in Olympic National Park, but unless your goal is to get high up in the mountains, spring is a better time to go. The crowds haven’t arrived yet, and the heavy winter rains translate into an explosion of growth and color as the weather warms.

1. Crater Lake – Oregon

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon
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The vast majority of people visit this park in the summer, but most just stop at overlooks. Why not go in spring instead? The lake will be surrounded by snow, making it even more beautiful, and the drive around the rim will still be closed, so you can get out and hike it without traffic or crowds.

3. Yosemite – California

Yosemite National Park, California
Image Credit: CK Foto/Shutterstock

With winter snow melting, the waterfalls of Yosemite Valley are at peak volume. What about the high country? Tioga Pass can remain closed into early July, but the week before it opens, you can see the area by bicycle without any cars around. The road will be mostly or entirely snow-free.

4. Pinnacles – California

Pinnacles National Park, West Coast, California
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Pinnacles National Park is colorful throughout the spring due to wildflower blooms. Another attraction there is viewing California condors, and the steep hike to the observation area is much more bearable in spring temperatures.

5. Channel Islands – California

Channel Islands National Park in California
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In the spring, many birds nest and migrate here. Sea lions and seals gather at this time, and the island foxes give birth to their kits. It’s a great time of year to visit!

6. Joshua Tree – California

joshua tree national park, california
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Joshua Tree is an inferno in the summer and can get really cold in the winter. Spring is best for the temperatures and the wildflowers. Many places will be crowded, but that won’t spoil the park’s beauty.

7. Death Valley – California

Telescope Peak– Death Valley National Park, CA
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Death Valley gets even hotter in the summer than Joshua Tree does. The other seasons are best for hiking the trails and exploring the sand dunes. If it was a “wet” winter, you’ll be amazed at how much life and color are on display throughout the park. Temperatures are also perfect for the hike up Telescope Peak, which has some of the most incredible views in the parks. If it’s still too snowy, try its lower neighbor, Wildrose Peak.

8. Zion – Utah

Zion National Park UT, USA
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Zion can stay quite cold for much of the spring, and that helps reduce the crowds except during spring break weeks. The milder temperatures make hiking a delight, as opposed to summer when the heat deters people from all but the shadiest hikes.

9. Capitol Reef – Utah

Capitol reef National park in Utah, USA
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Summer gets very hot, and winter can be too cold and snowy to do much other than drive through. Spring is perfect for exploring remote destinations such as Cathedral Valley and Muley Twist Canyon.

10. Arches – Utah

Arches National Park in Utah, USA
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Even though Arches gets really hot during the summer, it’s mobbed at that time of year. As long as you avoid going here during spring break, you can find a lot more elbow room in the spring, and the temperatures are pleasant. Plus, the La Sal Mountains that form a backdrop for many of the park’s iconic views will still be covered in snow.

11. Canyonlands – Utah

Canyonlands National Park
Image Credit: Scott Prokop/Shutterstock

Like its neighbor Arches, Canyonlands gets dangerously hot in the summer, and it can be cold and snowy in the winter. Spring and fall have the best temperatures, but spring gets the nod for wildflowers and for views of snowy mountains to the east (La Sals) and west (Henrys).

12. Black Canyon of the Gunnison – Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison park in Colorado, USA
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Melting snow makes the Gunnison River at its most spectacular in late spring and early summer. While the summers aren’t as hot as they are in the desert parks, they can be unpleasant, and thunderstorms are common. If you’re hiking down into the canyon, you’ll appreciate the cooler spring temperatures on the steep hike back up.

13. Great Sand Dunes – Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado
Image Credit: Kris Wiktor/Shutterstock

Summer can lead to burning-hot sands that punish bare feet, which is the best way to explore the dunes. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains will still have a heavy coating of snow in the spring, making a breathtaking backdrop for the dunes.

14. Grand Canyon – Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
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The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is crowded in every season, and the least-crowded is winter (the North Rim is open only in the summer). If you want to hike into the canyon, though, spring is the best time because temperatures are not yet too hot, and snow and ice can make conditions treacherous in fall and winter.

15. Saguaro – Arizona

Saguaro, Arizona
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Southern Arizona has some of the country’s most brutally hot summer weather. Visiting Saguaro during the other seasons is much better, but spring is the winner because in May, the beautiful white flowers of the Saguaros bloom. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see a bat pollinating one at night.

16. White Sands – New Mexico

White Sands National Park
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White Sands is in a low basin in southern New Mexico where there’s almost no shade. In the spring, temperatures are nicer for roaming the dunes, the weather is more stable, and a lot of the nearby mountains still have snow on them.

17. Big Bend – Texas

Big Bend National Park, Texas
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Some of Big Bend is mountains high enough where conditions are tolerable in the summer, but most of the park is desert that gets dangerously hot at that time of year. The other three seasons are all great, but spring gets the nod for wildflowers, especially the blooming cactuses.

18. Great Smoky Mountains – North Carolina/Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina-Tennessee
Image Credit: Kelly vanDellen/Shutterstock

The national parks of the Southeast have their own magic in every season, but spring in the Smokies is probably the best time for the fuller streams and waterfalls and the wildflowers. Summer is actually the worst season because of humidity and frequent rainfall.

19. New River Gorge – West Virginia

New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia
Image Credit: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Two things make spring the best time for visiting this park. First, some of the best whitewater rafting in the country is found here, and the rivers are at their raging best in spring. Second, late May is when the rhododendrons bloom and paint the landscape in gorgeous colors.

20. Shenandoah – Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Image Credit: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Many people designate fall as the best season here for the leaves, and they have a strong point. Personally, I always liked winter best during the many years I lived near the park, but if I have to be fully objective, I’d lean toward spring as the best for the average visitor. Why? Most people stay on or near Skyline Drive, so there’s only a brief window for enjoying fall colors whereas during spring, something new is blooming every week along the park’s main thoroughfare.

Best Place to See the Grand Canyon Sunrise at South Rim

grand canyon sunrise
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If you’re wondering where the best place to see the Grand Canyon sunrise at South Rim is, you’re not alone. With more than six million visitors to the national park each year, there are plenty of people trying to find the best place to see the show.

And what a show it is! Mother Nature does not disappoint. It was easily one of the most memorable sunrises we’ve ever seen! There are some things you should know before you go, though, and we’ll do our best to answer all your questions for you.

Best Place to See the Grand Canyon Sunrise at South Rim

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german woman
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Leavenworth is a perfect weekend getaway from Seattle since it’s only a two-and-a-half-hour drive. If you’re visiting the Pacific Northwest and looking for things to do, put Leavenworth at the top of your list!

9 Top Things to Do in Leavenworth, Washington

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Robert Sihler is an educator, freelance writer, and rock climbing guide and instructor living with his family in Driftwood, Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, streaming films, completing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing. When he goes on vacation, he likes to visit the mountains of the West and climb remote, obscure peaks that have seen few or no prior ascents.