Some national parks still have snow on the ground, while others are well-thawed and ready for unimpeded exploration in the spring. Spring is the time to get out of the house to explore the outdoors, just as newborn cubs and calves inside the parks are ready to do the same. Emerge and discover what’s blooming at these majestic national parks.
Looking for a National Park to Visit This Spring? Try These 6 National Parks for Spring
1. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Welcome spring with a steamy visit to Arkansas’ Hot Springs National Park to thaw off the chill of winter. The park’s 147-degree ground-heated thermal springs gush over waterfalls, collect in pools, and flow downstream. Touch the bubbling hot spring water in geothermal pools along tranquil trails and drink it from fountains around the park. Stroll historic Bathhouse Row, where two of nine historic bathhouses still offer thermal spring bathing experiences. Stop by Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center and Museum to learn about Hot Springs history and the area’s bathhouse culture. Get a view of the park’s rolling hills from Hot Springs Mountain Tower’s open-air observation deck, then explore the lush forest on hiking trails and choose a scenic picnic spot for lunch.
2. Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
Getting out of your air-conditioned car on a trip to Death Valley National Park in the summer might feel impossible, with over 100-degree furnace temps melting everything. So 80-90-degree spring days aren’t so bad. Visitors might get lucky and witness a breakout of wildflower blooms across the desert landscape, adding pops of gold and pink. Spring is one of the best times to watch—with the naked eye or telescope inspection—an awe-inspiring display of glittering stars in one of the country’s darkest dark sky parks. By day, ditch the car and explore unique sites across the park, like sandy Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin’s white salt flats.
3. Everglades National Park, Florida
If you’re looking to enjoy a clear sky, mild temperatures, and relief from biting insects, then spring is the best time to visit Florida’s Everglades National Park. December to April is the “Dry Season” throughout the park’s watery ecosystems, spanning mangrove forests rooted in water to coastal prairie mudflats. Lower water levels give visitors a better view of animals like the park’s famous resident alligators, crocodiles, and caimans. Go for a boat tour of the waterways and look out for many other water creatures like gentle manatee families munching sea grass and a variety of swimming and basking turtles.
4. Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
Access to the wonders of Yellowstone National Park becomes easier as snowbanks recede in the spring. Visitors looking for cold-weather fun can view park highlights like Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone by snow coach or snowmobile tour in March. By April and May, park roads re-open to vehicles, and quiet moments for watching newborn wildlife abound. Spot bison, elk, and moose calves learning the ways of the herd. If you get lucky, you might be in the right place at the right time to witness wolf pups venturing out of their dens for the first time.
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5. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
You can’t drive through Guadalupe Mountains National Park, but you can hike its wilderness trails for a closer look at the highest peaks in Texas. Expect warm, sunny days in spring for a comfortable desert trek, but always be ready for rain and wind. Crunch over rocky trails to explore a variety of mountainous landscapes like canyon overlooks and exposed sections of an ancient Permian fossil reef. View El Capitan’s peak from Highways 62 and 180. Its blocky rock outline is an icon of the American desert southwest.
6. Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Colorado
Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park has the tallest dunes in North America, which rise 740 feet. The snow-peaked Sangre de Cristo Mountain range is backdrop to the brown sandy dunes creating a unique landscape. Park weather is blustery in March and April, with high winds in the afternoon and intermittent snowfall. But snow melts quickly on the dunes. The Medano Creek melts in late spring, releasing water across the sand flats perfect for wading the waves in an inner tube. Rent sandboards and sand sleds on the way to the park and fly down the dunes before the sand gets too hot and the wind picks up in the afternoon.
Eva Barrows is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer. Eva writes about local places, people and events on her website www.evabarrows.com. She founded the online literary journal Imitation Fruit (www.imitationfruit.com) in 2007 and has enjoyed promoting fellow writers and artists ever since.