Are you ready to plan an epic spring break adventure, an outdoorsy weekend getaway, or a fun family trip? Snow is melting, flowers are budding 🌷🌷, and it’s a great time to get outside! Find out all about the 5 best National Parks to visit in the spring!
I have been to 56 of the National Parks and spring is one of my favorite times of year to go on a trip to these amazing destinations. Usually, crowds are low, wildlife is out and about, and the temperatures are warming up 🌡. These 5 parks are some of the very best to visit!
Find out everything you need to know about the 5 best national parks to visit in spring. This post includes the best spring activities 🥾, where to stay near the parks, and tips to know before you go!
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Table of Contents
5 Best National Parks to Visit in Spring
Arches is one of the most wonderful parks in the entire country! Spring time is splendid with warm temperatures, fewer crowds, blooming wildflowers, and over 2000 natural arches 🪨 to explore. Even with just a day you can see so many incredible spots.
This spectacular Utah national park is the perfect destination for your spring road trip. Spend a couple of days going on incredible hikes in the park, exploring the town of Moab, and enjoying stunning sunsets 🌅.
Recently, Arches implemented a new timed entry system 🎟 that limits the amount of people entering the park during certain times. But, this actually makes visiting Arches that much better! Once you get a timed entry permit you can enjoy the trails and roads with fewer crowds.
Arches Weather in Spring: Highs in 80s, lows in 50s
Arches Spring Highlights
- Hike to Delicate Arch
- Watch the sunrise over the Windows Section
- Drive the scenic road
- Visit Landscape Arch to see a beautiful rock formation
- Take a ranger guided tour to Fiery Furnace
Things to Know About Arches
💵 Arches has a $30 fee per vehicle. If you have an annual pass you can use that for entry, but you’ll still need a timed entry permit.
🎟 There is a timed entry system from 7 am- 4 pm daily that begins on April 1st. You can get your permit on recreation.gov. Get one for early to avoid crowds!
💦 Bring extra water into the park, even though it’s spring the sun here is very intense. You do not want to get dehydrated while you hike on the trails or visit the arches.
🦮 Pets are not allowed on any of the hiking trails or at any of the overlooks.
Where to Stay in Arches National Park
Arches is located conveniently close to the town of Moab, Utah. This town has amazing places to eat (like Garage and the Food Truck park), great hotels, and even plenty of space for free camping 🏕. I highly suggest staying in this area!
Devil’s Campground is the only site in the park and you have to reserve in advance. So, you’ll want to look into this early if you want to camp in Arches!
Great Hotels in Moab
Visiting Yosemite for the first time is an experience that you will never forget. Getting out of the tunnel into the valley, you’ll stare in awe 🤩 as incredible rock formations tower ahead. This park is the most iconic park for a reason.
Yosemite is one of the best national parks to visit in spring for many reasons including less people, pretty wildflowers, and high water levels 💦. When the snow melts, the rivers start to rise, and the stunning waterfalls throughout the park begin to gush. Yosemite and Bridalveil Falls are a must!
There’s really no better time to experience the splendor of Yosemite. So, add this park to your spring bucket list!
Yosemite Weather in Spring: Highs in 70s, lows in 30s
Yosemite Spring Highlights
- Trek to Yosemite Falls
- Rent a bike to wander around Yosemite Valley
- Marvel at the gushing waters of Vernal Falls
- Watch the sunrise at Tunnel View
- Go rafting and kayaking in the Merced River
Things to Know About Yosemite
💵 Yosemite charges $35 per vehicle per week. If you have an annual pass you can use that for entry, but starting in the spring there is also a timed entry system.
🎟 There is a timed entry system from 5 am- 4 pm on weekends and holidays in the spring starting in April. If you want to visit then, make sure to get a reservation before you go!
🚲 You can rent bikes in the park to bike around Yosemite Valley. On peak days, they sell out so get there early to grab one!
🦮 Pets are not allowed on any of the hiking trails or at any of the overlooks.
Where to Stay in Yosemite
If you can get a campground in Yosemite or snag a room at a lodge, then that is the best place to be. Yosemite is large and driving outside the park can take a while. However, some campgrounds open later in spring, but reservations open up in January and fill up right away.
However, if you can’t get rooming in the park then I recommend staying in the nearby town of Mariposa. It has good lodging options and restaurants.
Best Hotels Near Yosemite
Yellowstone is such a good park to visit in spring that I wrote an entire post on traveling there in May. Wildlife is out and about , geothermal features are vibrant, crowds are sparse, and the snowmelt creates cascading waterfalls, it’s an experience like no other.
Spring marks the season of new life for many animals within the park. Bison calves and bear cubs 🐻 roam around their habitats. We saw a number of them on our trip to the park in May and it was adorable!
So, visit Yellowstone, the first national park in the US, and fall in love with the spring there. 💕
Yellowstone Weather in Spring: Highs in 50s, lows in 20s
Yellowstone Spring Highlights
- Seeing wildlife in Lamar Valley or Hayden Valley
- Watching Old Faithful geyser erupt
- Marveling at the geothermal geysers of Midway Basin
- Walking around Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone & Artist’s Point
Things to Know About Yellowstone
💵 It’s a $35 fee to get into Yellowstone that covers a week per car. You can also use one of the annual passes to get in.
🚧 Some roads may still be closed in the spring, so you can stay updated on all road closures on the NPS website.
🦬 Spring is a fantastic time of year to see wildlife as they slowly come out and about again. That being said, you need to give wildlife plenty of space and pull completely off the roads, so others can get by!
🦮 Pets are not allowed in most of the park, including hiking trails or overlooks, and they must be kept on a leash at all times.
Where to Stay in Yellowstone
So, if you want to stay near the park the best place to be is West Yellowstone. Jackson is a nice town, but it’s far and the road between the Tetons and Yellowstone opens late in the season. This area, has a number of lodges and shops.
Hotels Near Yellowstone
Visit the newest national park, in the US, New River Gorge and see why it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. In the spring, the park experiences mild temperatures, clear skies, and incredible conditions for hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing.
New River Gorge is known as one of the best places to whitewater raft in the country. With the snowmelt in the spring, water levels rise 💧 and the rapids are incredible! If you’re an adventure seeker, then there’s no better time to go.
For those seeking a more laid back experience, the gorge transforms into a beautiful landscape with lush mountains 🌳 and colorful wildflowers. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or a casual stroller this is the perfect time to explore!
New River Gorge Weather in Spring: Highs in 70s, lows in 30s
New River Gorge Spring Highlights
- Go whitewater rafting through the river
- Hike the scenic Long Point trail
- Walk on the catwalk of the New River Gorge bridge
- Rock climb on the park’s boulders and mountains
Things to Know About New River Gorge
💵 There is no entrance fee to enter New River Gorge, which is another fantastic reason to go visit!
🌸 Wildflowers begin to bloom in the spring, so head to the trails to see them. Remember to never pick the wildflowers!
⛺️ Primitive camping is available within the park on a first-come, first-served basis. There are 8 different sites within the park.
🦮 Pets are allowed on all trails within the park! They must be kept on a leash at all times and cleaned after!
Where to Stay in New River Gorge
New River Gorge has 8 primitive campsites that are first-come, first-served for those who want to stay outdoors. If you’re looking for lodging, then Fayetteville is a wonderful town to stay in. It’s a small town with fun vibes and plenty of homes or VRBOs to choose from!
Stays Near New River Gorge
Visit the vast landscape of the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado. It’s a fantastic spring destination with mild temperatures and firm sand, providing a wonderful time for visitors. Enjoy sand sledding or just walking around!
In spring, sand dunes are a cooler temperature, unlike the summer where the sand will likely scorch your feet 😩. Walk amongst the dunes with your bare feet and revel in the feeling of the sand between your toes.
Plus, the scenery in the spring is stunning. Photographers, in particular, will delight in the softer light that creates stunning hues and vibrant sunsets that are perfectly picturesque 📸 against the dunes. As you explore, you’ll notice the stark contrast between the snow-capped mountains and the warm sand dunes. Get ready to make some memories at this fantastic park.
Great Sand Dunes Weather in Spring: Highs in 60s, lows in 20s
Great Sand Dunes Spring Highlights
- Go sand sledding down the dunes
- Take a hard hike up to High Dune
- Practice your photography of the dunes
- Visit the frozen or recently thawed Zapata Falls
Things to Know About Great Sand Dunes
💵 Great Sand Dunes has a $25 fee per vehicle that covers 7 days. Again, don’t forget if you’re visiting a number of parks you can get an annual pass and save money!
💨 Visiting the sand dunes when it is windy can be difficult, because of the moving sand. Just remember to cover your eyes and turn away from the wind gusts when they come through!
🛷 If you want to try sand sledding or sand boarding, then you must rent your gear before getting in the park. The park itself does not have any rentals!
🦮 Pets are allowed in the main use areas of the park, but they are prohibited from other areas. You can use this map to help you plan.
Where to Stay in Great Sand Dunes
Great Sand Dunes is a fantastic place to visit, but there isn’t a ton of lodging nearby. There is one campground in the park and all other lodging options are outside of the park’s bounds. With only a couple of small towns nearby, you’ll be looking at smaller hotels.
Hotels Near Great Sand Dunes
Final Tips for Visiting the National Parks in Spring
Spring is a time when flowers are budding and snow is slowly melting. Many of the park trails and roads are still just opening up in the early spring. It’s important to look into the weather, road conditions, and park openings before you visit so that you have a great trip!
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