As springtime emerges after a long winter, adventure beckons. Budding trees, longer days and the increasing warmth of the sun are all reasons to get outside and start exploring. And what better place is there to explore than the U.S. National Parks? Springtime is often the best time to visit a national park, with ideal temperatures, blooming flowers and exciting wildlife. This spring, consider hitting the trails and visit one of these amazing national parks.
Zion National Park, Utah
There’s no doubt that Zion National Park is beautiful year round, but the blooming flowers and pleasant temperatures of spring make it an ideal time to visit. Compared to the scorching temperatures of July, April’s high boasts a delightful 74 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect for day hiking and picnicking. Plus, the snowmelt in the mountains adds extra drama and volume to the park’s many waterfalls. Early-to-mid April brings about the blooming of Indian paintbrushes, stunning red wildflowers that can be found in the park’s meadows and rock walls. And when the canyons are lined with hanging blooming spring flowers, such as cardinal monkeyflowers and golden columbines, it will take your breath away.
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Traveling to the rugged and remote Glacier Bay National Park is ideal in spring when the crowds are fewer and the weather drier. In fact, April, May and June are typically the driest months in Glacier Bay, though you should still plan on packing warm layers and good rain gear. And if you’re interested in viewing wildlife in their natural habitat, there is no better time than spring. The whales return to northern waters in April, and the mountain goats, wolves and moose haven’t yet retreated to higher altitudes since there's still snow in the mountains. Also, according to the Anchorage Daily News, bears are the most active in March and April, after they’ve awoken from their winter slumber.
The National Mall and Memorial Parks, Washington D.C.
Springtime brings incredible beauty to our nation’s capital with the annual blooming of the cherry trees. The trees, which were gifted to the U.S. from Japan in 1912, line the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, a subsection of the National Mall. This year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival will be held for five consecutive weekends between March 23 and April 14, and peak bloom is expected to be April 3-6. The National Park System offers several ranger-led programs for visitors, including a lantern-led evening stroll beneath the trees, a bike tour and a dog-friendly group walk.
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Named for the iconic Saguaro cactus found in southern Arizona, Saguaro National Park is truly lovely in the springtime. Atop the spiny cactus head, yellow and white flowers bloom in the spring, usually from late April until early June. Blooming in the morning, the flowers last only one day, providing pollen for bees, bats and desert hummingbirds, before fading with the afternoon sun. Hike through the Cactus Forest, or to Bridal Wreath Falls, to witness the park in all of its spring glory, with blooming cacti, wildflowers and spectacular hanging gardens.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
As one of America’s most-visited national parks, the Great Smoky Mountains are renowned for their wildlife and plant diversity. But of all the seasons, springtime is the best for showcasing the stunning landscape of the park’s flora and fauna. With over 1,500 varieties of flowering plants, the park has earned the nickname, “Wildflower National Park.” Known for its early-emerging ephemerals, the park boasts trilliums, lady slipper orchids, columbines and bleeding hearts, to name only a few. To celebrate the beauty of spring, visit the park between April 24 -27 for the Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, which offers several wildflower hikes in addition to group activities that range from stargazing to bird watching.