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Best 8 National Parks to Visit in Spring Bliss: March-May

After a long winter, we're all ready to get out and go exploring. Spring is the perfect time for hiking, camping and discovering what our country’s national parks have to offer. National parks in the spring are great places to catch awe-inspiring waterfalls, see flowers and trees in full bloom and maybe even spot a baby animal or two!

Let’s take a look at some of the best national parks to visit in the spring.

National Parks

1. Zion National Park

If you like to hike, Zion National Park, with its landscape filled with red rock spires and chimneys, is the place for you. As one of the best national parks to visit in spring, Zion has a lot to offer. Zion is really popular in the spring, so expect to find plenty of people on the trails with you. Hikes range from easy strolls to all-day adventures. If you want to see the park but would rather stay in the car, the Zion-Mount Carmel highway provides a beautiful scenic drive.

What makes Zion one of the best national parks in spring is its plethora of exciting activities, including:

  • Wildflower Viewing: During spring, Zion bursts into a riot of colors as vibrant wildflowers blanket the landscape and starkly contrast against the red rock backdrop. Throughout the spring months, visitors can spot desert marigolds, lupine, Indian flatbush and other varieties.
  • Waterfalls: As the snow begins to melt, Zion’s rivers fill up with their waterfalls roaring. Some iconic waterfalls found in the park include the Lower and Upper Emerald Pools and Weeping Rock. Visitors can also enjoy walks along the Riverside Walk in Zion Canyon.
  • Birding: Spring is a prime time for birding. Visitors can usually catch glimpses of golden eagles, peregrine falcons and hummingbirds.


National Parks

2. Death Valley National Park

Number two of our best national parks to visit in spring is Death Valley National Park is from March to mid-April, as May starts to experience consistent 100-degree days. The park got its name due to its extreme summer temperatures, but in spring, when the weather is relatively mild and wildflowers are blooming, Death Valley is lovely. If you visit after a particularly wet winter season, you may get to witness a "superbloom," when an unusually large number of wildflowers germinate and bloom in the desert.

This park is the largest in the contiguous United States, and there’s a lot to do, making it one of the best national park vacations for seniors. With its salt flats, sand dunes, canyons and mountains to explore, there are plenty of places to hike, bike or even go horseback riding. Some top activities that make Death Valley one of the best national parks to visit in the spring include:

  • Stargazing: One of the top benefits of Death Valley is its isolation, making it an exceptional destination for stargazing. The spring brings moderate temperatures, making it comfortable for visitors to enjoy the park’s minimal light pollution. Top viewing areas in the park include Harmony Borax Works, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Dante's View.
  • Camping: Another popular spring activity in Death Valley National Park is camping, as visitors can take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Popular options include the Furnace Creek and Mesquite Spring campgrounds, which have restroom facilities and firepits.
  • Photography: Each season brings its own lighting, and the spring months bring a soft glow to Death Valley that enhance the dramatic landscapes of the park, allowing photographers to capture the vibrant hues of sunrise and sunset across the salt flats, dunes and rugged mountains.


National Parks

3. Grand Canyon National Park

Majestic Grand Canyon National Park is certainly worth a visit in the spring. While a trip to the Grand Canyon is fantastic any time of year, it makes our list of the best national parks to visit in spring because it's much less crowded this time of year. It can get a bit chilly in the early morning, but the weather warms up beautifully as the day goes on.

Overall, the Grand Canyon is one of the best national parks to visit from March through May when daytime temperatures are cool and crowds are thin. The most popular spot to visit at the Grand Canyon National Park is the South Rim. Visit Grand Canyon Village to find hiking trails that range in difficulty from easy to strenuous. If you're feeling really adventurous, take the Bright Angel trail for a trek down into the canyon and back out again, about 12 miles round trip. While the upper part of the trail can be icy during the early spring months, this is a great trail to visit for scenic views of the canyon from the inside.

Some of the top activities for spring visitors adventuring to the Grand Canyon include:

  • Rafting: Spring is the start of rafting season in the Grand Canyon, allowing visitors to explore the park and gain a unique perspective of the canyon’s towering walls and dramatic landscapes.
  • Mule Rides: Another adventurous activity for park visitors in the spring is mule rides, where visitors can take a guided tour into the canyon while learning about the park’s geology and history.
  • Wildflower Viewing: Like many of the best national parks to visit in spring, the Grand Canyon becomes blanketed in color as wildflowers bloom, with top viewing spots including Yavapai Point, Grandview Point and along the South Rim Trail.


National Parks

4. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park offers one of the easier-paced U.S. National Park tours for seniors, with a wide variety of ecosystems and endless options for exploring. Yellowstone is one of the best national parks to visit from April through May, as they’re the shoulder months that offer mild weather, fewer crowds and typically little to no road closures. Some of the top activities you can enjoy during the spring include:

  • Wildlife Viewing: Spring is the time for babies at Yellowstone. Baby bison start appearing in March, baby bears can be caught frolicking among the trees and, if you’re lucky, you might be able to catch wolf pups playing together. Later in the spring, you might see baby bighorn sheep and spot moose, river otters, elk and eagles.
  • Geyser-Gazing: Another popular activity at the park is geyser-gazing. Yellowstone National Park is home to 500 geysers, the most famous being Old Faithful, which erupts every 90 minutes and shoots water anywhere from 106 to 185 feet in the air.
  • Fishing: Spring marks the start of fishing season in Yellowstone, where visitors can obtain permits to cast lines into the park’s rivers to catch fish like Yellowstone cutthroat, rainbow, brown and brook trout.


National Parks

5. Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is one of the best national parks to visit in April and early spring before the weather starts getting warmer in May and beyond. Named for a big bend in the Rio Grande, Big Bend National Park is one of the more remote national parks. At night, it is one of the darkest places in America, so stargazing is a popular activity, and this is the best national park for seeing the Milky Way!

In addition to stargazing, Big Bend National Park is a phenomenal national park in spring due to the great variety of flora and fauna found here. The park is home to over 1,200 species of plants. It’s also great for birding, with 450 species to be found. Other popular activities include:

  • Hiking: With moderate temperatures in the spring, visitors can enjoy hikes along popular trails like the Lost Mine Trail, Santa Elena Canyon Trail, Window Trail and Emory Peak Trail.
  • Scenic Drives: For visitors looking to stay off their feet, there are several scenic drives that give you the opportunity to view the park’s landscapes and spring wildflowers, such as drives along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and to Santa Elena Canyon.
  • River Activities: There are numerous river activities throughout the park that are comfortable in the spring, such as canoeing or kayaking through Santa Elena Canyon or fishing for bass and catfish.


6. Joshua Tree National Park

Located in Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park features desert landscapes and comfortable temperatures. Overall, Joshua Tree is one of the best national parks to visit from March through May due to fewer crowds and moderate to mild temperatures. Top activities include:

  • Rock Climbing: For the adventurous type, venture off to scale the park’s granite cliffs and spires. Here, there are beginner-friendly and more advanced climbing routes, with options including Hidden Valley, Echo Cove and Intersection Rock.
  • Stargazing: Joshua Tree is another exceptional area for stargazing thanks to its limited light pollution and remoteness, making it easy to marvel at the Milky Way and constellations.
  • Photography: Another great springtime hobby for park visitors is photography, where visitors can capture the twisted Joshua trees and unique rock formations.


7. Grand Teton National Park

One of the best national parks to visit in May is Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. There are countless activities you can enjoy as the weather starts to get warmer and the wildflowers begin to bloom, such as:

  • Wildlife Viewing: Grand Teton is an excellent place to view wildlife, especially newborns like wolves, elk, bison, black and grizzly bears as well as mule deer.
  • Hiking: Like any national park, Grand Teton is ripe with hiking options, which is especially exciting in the spring when trees and flowers begin to bloom and wildlife species wake up from hibernation. Top hikes include Cascade Canyon, Inspiration Point, Taggart Lake and the rigorous trek to the summit of Grand Teton.
  • Water Activities: With warmer temperatures comes the option to enjoy water-based activities, such as rafting down the Snake River or canoeing or kayaking on Jenny Lake.


8. Arches National Park

To complete our list of the best national parks to visit in spring, we have Arches National Park in Utah. April and May are the recommended months, as the temperatures are warmer and the park starts to wake up with wildlife, flora and fauna. For those visiting in the spring, top activities include:

  • Rock Climbing: There are exceptional rock climbing opportunities in areas like Wall Street, the Windows and the Fisher Towers, which offer advanced and beginner-friendly rock climbing routes on the park’s iconic sandstone cliffs and rock formations.
  • Photography: Photography, particularly nighttime photography, is a great springtime activity, allowing visitors to capture nighttime scenes of the Milky Way and constellations with the park’s unique rock formations in the picture.
  • Hiking: From Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch to Double Arch and the Fiery Furnace, there are several invigorating hikes with fewer trekkers on the paths during the spring. 


Interested in learning more? Road Scholar offers a range of national park tours for seniors. Join Road Scholar on a learning vacation to remember — book your educational tours today!