It’s the awe-inspiring cliffs of Yosemite, the vast size of the Grand Canyon, the rolling hills of the Smoky Mountains and the near-empty hiking trails that might draw you in. Spring is a perfect time to visit some of mother nature’s greatest work! These are the best national parks to visit in April.
As temperatures begin to warm all over the US, many people are still at home planning their summer getaways. So what better time to visit national parks but spring?
From wildflowers to bursting waterfalls, April is a great time to see the best of the USA!
It’s time to get out there before the masses do, and enjoy these public lands with some of the best scenic drives and hiking trails in the country.
Best national parks to visit in April
While I’m regularly checking places off my travel bucket list, unfortunately I haven’t been to all the US national parks (yet!) So I asked some of my fellow travel writers to help compile this list.
These national parks are so phenomenal, you’ll have a hard time choosing which ones to visit this spring!
Let’s dive into the list!
Map of the best national parks to visit in the spring
This map will help you find the perfect spot for your upcoming vacation. See which areas of the country are the best for April travel and read the descriptions below to choose your park.
Best national parks to visit in April
Starting this list off with a bang! Although every spot on this list is a great option, here are a few favorites.
Note: for each park you’ll get the location, highlights, average temperatures and nearby accommodations to help you plan your perfect trip!
1. Redwood National Park
Location: Northern California
Perfect for: hiking, beach viewing, camping
Average temps: 60 / 46
If you’re looking for the best national park to visit in April, consider exploring the Redwood National Park in Northern California! In the springtime, it’s still shoulder season in the Redwoods, meaning that you’ll encounter fewer crowds and have a lot of the popular hikes to yourself.
Some of the best things to do in Redwoods National Park are open and accessible in the springtime.
Drive the iconic Avenue of Giants while snapping photos from your car! Take a walk among the giant redwood trees at Tall Tree Grove or Boy Scout Tree Trail.
If you want to see the ocean, head over to Endert’s Beach to watch the sunset in front of the crashing waves. Depending on the rainfall of the year, some places like Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon will still be closed due to high waters.
You’ll likely encounter a little rain, but with a good raincoat and a waterproof rain boots, you can tackle any muddy trail in your path! If you don’t like being wet, stash an extra pair of dry socks in the car to change into on the way back to your hotel or campground.
Nearby accommodations: If you want to stay close to the park, the closest accommodations are campgrounds! Sue-Meg State Park is very close, with amenities like gas and grocery stores nearby too. Jedidiah Redwoods State Park cabins and Mill Creek Campground are located on the northern side of the park, with access to lots of hiking trails and beaches for a memorable stay in the park.
Recommended by Emily of The Mandagies
2. Arches National Park
Location: Southeast Utah
Perfect for: hiking, scenic drive, stargazing
Average temps: 69 / 40
It’s one of the best natural wonders in the USA and is like nature’s playgrounds for families. Arches National Park in Utah is a phenomenal park for all ages.
Many of the arches can be seen by walking short, paved paths – perfect for older travelers or those with accessibility needs. And some of the arches can be climbed through and played on – which is great for kids. Most of the Arches National Park hikes can be done by all skill levels.
Arches is one of the best national parks to visit in April because there are less crowds, yet the wintry snow and ice is typically gone. With average high temps in the upper 60’s it’s great weather for hiking and exploring!
Be sure to pack layers and bring plenty of water and snacks to keep your energy up. There’s not a lot of amenities in Arches NP!
Whether you’ve got one day in Arches National Park or a week, be sure to visit the Devil’s Garden area of the park. There, you’ll see the largest arch in the park, Landscape Arch. Take the short trail down the hill to a fun arch for kids – Pine Tree Arch.
Visitors can also see 4 arches rather quickly by visiting The Windows section of the park. North Window, South Window and Turret Arch can all be seen by walking a paved path. Across the parking lot is the massive Double Arch.
Nearby accommodations: staying in nearby Moab is a convenient spot. Although you’ll have plenty of vacation rentals and hotels to choose from, the Homewood Suites by Hilton Moab is a premier choice based on location, amenities and value.
Recommended by me – Nikki of She Saves She Travels
3. Virgin Islands National Park (one of the most beautiful on this list of best national parks to visit in April)
Location: St. John, US Virgin Islands, Caribbean Sea
Perfect for: underwater adventures, beach viewing, hiking
Average temps: 84 / 69
Virgin Islands National Park is an excellent destination for an April getaway. Located on the tropical island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands, a trip to this national park promises beaches, hikes and relaxation in an undeveloped paradise.
During April in Virgin Islands National Park, the Caribbean’s winter high season begins to slow down, but the gentle warm breezes remain. It’s the perfect tropical getaway for those wishing to escape the lingering cold of the north without leaving the United States. Especially since US citizens do not need to present a passport for entry.
The highlight of Virgin Islands National park is North Shore Road, where you can find the most pristine white sand beaches, like Maho and Trunk Bay. As the land is protected by the national park, there are no resorts lining the beaches to distract from the glistening turquoise water.
North Shore Road is also perfect for scenic drives and stopping for photos at the many overlooks along the way.
Virgin Islands National Park has upwards of 20 hiking trails suitable for all skill levels. There is the 5-mile-long Reef Bay Trail, which leads past colonial sugar mill plantation ruins to a lovely remote beach. Another popular trail is the Ram Head Trail, which is about 2 miles out and back and very exposed to the sun, but filled with amazing sea views.
Nearby accommodations: the best hotel on St. John is The Westin just outside of the island’s main town of Cruz Bay. From there, it’s just a 5 minute drive to dozens of restaurants, shops and the ferry dock.
Recommended by Theresa of Fueled By Wanderlust
4. Great Sand Dunes National Park
Location: Southern Colorado
Perfect for: stargazing, adventure activities, hiking
Average temps: 57 / 29
If you’re looking where to travel in April, an otherworldly getaway is Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. It’s aptly named, since the park protects the tallest sand dunes in North America. It’s also one of the quietest parks in the country, and even more so in April.
Because the high temperatures only get to the mid-50s and the weather can be volatile, attendance is fairly low during the month. That means it can feel like you’ve got the park to yourselves while still being able to experience a lot of its amenities!
One of the most popular things to do is sand boarding. You can bring your own or rent one. While they don’t have a rental facility in the park, there’s one a mere 4 miles away that opens seasonally in March.
Another great way to experience the park is to hike it. The entire 30-square miles of the dunes are open to hikers. Mountain trails are typically still covered in deep snow in April, but it varies with each season.
Because of the uncertain nature of the weather, you’ll want to dress in layers. Be prepared for snow and rain with warm coats and ponchos. To see as much of the park as possible, drive a high-clearance 4-WD vehicle.
Nearby accommodations: if you’re looking for a place to stay near Great Sand Dunes National Park, you can’t get closer than Piñon Flats Campground. It’s within the park and it opens in April. If camping’s not your thing, Great Sand Dunes Lodge is near the entrance to the park.
Recommended by Theresa of The Local Tourist
5. Haleakala National Park (one of the best national parks to visit in April)
Location: Maui, Hawaii
Perfect for: scenic drives, hiking, stargazing
Average temps: 61 / 44
For the best national park to visit in April, look no further than Haleakalā National Park in Maui! April is a perfect time to travel to Maui because it’s the shoulder season for tourism, meaning there’s way less crowds. And bonus – if you’re looking for a budget trip to Maui, April is a great time!
Haleakalā National Park’s weather is pretty consistent throughout the year – often dipping below freezing at the summit but warming up quickly with the sun of the day. At over 10,000 feet, it gets chilly with the wind so pack layers.
One of the best things to do in Haleakalā National Park is watch the sunrise over the clouds. It’s one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had – and think you’ll agree when you see it, too. You’ll need to take a sunrise tour or get a sunrise reservation from the NPS to enjoy it though. They’re managing crowds to maintain the delicate ecosystem.
There are some hikes in Haleakala NP, too. Try the moderate Pa Ka’oao Trail or Pa ka’oao Trail (White Hill Trail). Bring your hiking poles, plenty of water and eco-friendly sunscreen at this elevation!
Nearby accommodations: one of the closest places to stay near Haleakala is Courtyard by Marriott Maui Kahului Airport. It will give you easy access to the national park and another fun adventure – the Road to Hana.
Alternatively, Kaanapali Beach is a great spot to stay on the island. With plenty of restaurants, beaches and other activities, you’ll find plenty to do there. The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa and Aston at The Whaler on Kaanapali Beach are both excellent choices.
Recommended by me – Nikki of She Saves She Travels
6. Death Valley National Park
Location: Southeastern California
Perfect for: hiking, stargazing, camping
Average temps: 90 / 62
One of the most under appreciated national parks in the West, Death Valley is a perfect place to visit in April.
While some national parks are still covered by snow during this time of a year, Death Valley National Park boasts mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine which is great for hiking and spending time outside.
April is the last month before Death Valley begins to get really hot. May is the beginning of the summer season, and it’s not unusual to the see triple digits in Death Valley during this time.
One of the best hikes in Death Valley National Park is Golden Canyon, a scenic area that boasts several trails including the Red Cathedral hike, Zabriskie Point to Golden Canyon hike and Gower Gulch Loop. Hiking is one of the best reasons to visit Death Valley, one of the best national parks in April.
The most spectacular portion of the canyon is the 1.7-mile stretch between Golden Canyon and Zabriskie Point, an impressive vista from where you can see the spectacular badlands that used to be mined for borax, a material which was dubbed “white gold at the time.” The discovery of borax put Death Valley on the map in the 1800s.
Nearby accommodations: spring is also a great time for camping in Death Valley before it gets too hot. This national park boasts clear dark skies that are perfect for stargazing, and there’s no better way to see them than from one of the area’s many camping spots. Try Furnace Creek in the early part of April.
Recommended by Daria of The Discovery Nut
7. Dry Tortugas National Park
Location: Near Key West, Florida, Caribbean Sea
Perfect for: underwater adventures, history
Average temps: 83 / 71
Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the best national parks to visit in April for a variety of reasons! It is one of the most unique national parks in Florida and one that people often skip which is sad as it is truly a hidden gem!
April is one of the best time to visit dry Tortugas national Park because the weather is better and Florida is not in hurricane season. The water is starting to get warmer in April, too. Going during this time of year is truly one of the best tips for visiting Dry Tortugas National Park.
You have 2 options for getting here, either take a seaplane which is a more expensive option, or take a boat from Key West which is much more affordable. The journey on the boat will take about 3 hours one way, but worth the trip.
Be sure to visit the historic 19th century fort while at Dry Tortugas National Park. Exploring it during April is very enjoyable because it isn’t so hot OR cold out so you can really focus on the history!
Make time to snorkel and you may even see a sea turtle as well! Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida is a gem to visit any time of year, but especially during the month of April!
Recommended by Victoria of Florida Trippers
More national parks to visit in April
There are so many incredible parks in the USA! With only a third of this list done, let’s keep going. More unique landscapes coming right up…
8. Petrified Forest National Park (a unique park, and one of the best national parks to visit in the spring)
Location: Eastern Arizona
Perfect for: hiking, sightseeing
Average temps: 71 / 36
Petrified Forest National Park, tucked away in the northeastern corner of Arizona, is a not-to-be-missed destination.
While its scenery is slightly more subdued than some of the more famous national parks, the landscape is nonetheless breathtaking. The park features colorfully striated badlands, rugged desert hills stretching endlessly on and literal forests of petrified wood, dating back millions of years.
April is a fantastic time to visit the park, with pleasant temperatures, clear skies, and fewer crowds than the busy summer season. Given the weather, April is perfect for exploring Petrified Forest National Park’s short, but beautiful hiking trails.
For example, one of the best hikes in the park is the Blue Mesa Trail, which winds below the rim of a mesa and weaves between the valleys of vibrantly blue badlands soaring overhead.
Another highlight of the park, especially for geology enthusiasts, is the Crystal Forest trail, where an eye-popping amount of colorful crystallized logs lay strewn across the park’s rolling hills.
As a final stop, hike the Painted Desert Rim Trail. You’ll follow along the rim of a mesa overlooking the scarlet-hued badlands of the Painted Desert sprawling towards the horizon.
So whether you love gorgeous desert landscapes or fascinating geological history (or both!), be sure to add Petrified Forest, one of the U.S. National Park Service’s biggest hidden gems, to your bucket list.
Nearby accommodations: One of the closest spots to the park is La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Holbrook Petrified Forest. Proximity and value make it a great option for visiting this unique Arizona gem.
Recommended by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler
9. Joshua Tree National Park
Location: Southeast California
Perfect for: rock climbing, hiking, scenic views
Average temps: 80 / 48
Located in California’s high desert, Joshua Tree National Park is one of those magical places that everyone should visit at least once. The park’s distinctive landscape is dotted with unusual-looking trees and piles of loose boulders that just beg to be explored.
Joshua Tree National Park is a renowned rock-climbing destination and boasts miles of hiking trails for all skill levels.
If you’re looking for one of the best hikes in Joshua tree, start with the Hidden Valley Nature Trail. This one-mile interpretive loop showcases some of the park’s best scenery. It’s also one of Joshua Tree’s most popular trails. To avoid the crowds, head to the Black Rock Canyon entrance and try the West Side Loop or Panorama Loop Trails. Or better yet, bring an overnight pack and try camping under the stars.
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best national parks to visit in April. An average temperature of 80 F degrees makes for comfortable daytime temperatures – although it can get chilly at night.
Before heading into the desert, be sure to bring plenty of layers and sun protection such as a sun shirt, broad hat and sunscreen. You also need to bring all of your own water with you.
Nearby accommodations: the communities around Joshua Tree are famous for attracting artists and other quirky types. For a lodging that truly embodies this spirit, head to Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Camp. This unusual accommodation features 6 fully restored vintage airstream motorhomes and makes a great base from which to explore the park!
Recommended by Katy of A Rambling Unicorn
10. Capitol Reef National Park
Location: Southern Utah
Perfect for: scenic drive, hiking
Average temps: 64 / 37
One of the best national parks to visit in the spring is Capitol Reef National Park. April in particular is the best time to visit because the weather is mild compared to the rest of the year.
There are many things to do in this beautiful national park, such as driving to scenic viewpoints. The best drives are Cathedral Valley Loop Drive, Burr Trail Scenic Byway, Capitol Reef Scenic Drive and Capitol Gorge Road.
The Capitol Reef Scenic Drive is an Instagram famous spot and is a glorious place to take photos. But it’s highly recommended to talk to a ranger before going on any driving adventures. You might need 4WD to get there.
There are many beautiful viewpoints where you can watch the sunset, such as Goosenecks Viewpoint, Sunset Point, and Panorama Point. You can also hike many outstanding trails such as Cassidy Arch Hike, Grand Wash Trail, Hickman Bridge Trail and Cohab Canyon Trail.
For adventures in Capitol Reef National Park, bring good hiking shoes and sweat-wicking attire to hike as comfortably as possible. Also, bring a lot of water and food with you because it gets hot, even in the spring.
Nearby accommodations: the park does not have any hotels inside, but there is one nearby in Torrey, Utah, with a modern feel the Red Sands Hotel.
Recommended by Michelle of The Wandering Queen
11. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Location: Southwest Colorado
Perfect for: scenic drives, hiking
Average temps: 64 / 35
Just 40-minutes from Crested Butte, Colorado, in the ranch town of Gunnison, is this awe-inspiring national park.
Known as Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, this area features a network of roads and astonishing trails. They take you along the 1,700-foot tall walls of the north and south rim of the canyon, to the raging river below.
Plan your visit for the last 2 weeks of April so that you can avoid the crowds and any lingering snow that might lead to road closures at this popular Colorado winter vacation destination.
However, regardless of the snow, you can always pack microspikes, trekking poles and waterproof footwear to try sometimes snowy – but always gorgeous – hikes.
The Mill Castle Trail a long-haul hike that is perfect for backpacking. Although, you can always enjoy stunning views from a few miles in if you don’t want to hike the length of this 25-mile trail.
Alternatively, if conditions are wintery, you can also do a bit of snowshoeing in the Black Canyon or cross country ski your way along the South Rim Drive.
Next, embark on some shorter, equally gorgeous hikes like the Gunnison Route Trail to the river. The infinitely easier, Warner Point Nature Trail offers great views of the canyon.
Just be sure to monitor weather conditions before you arrive since roads usually open back up at this time of year, enabling you to take the south rim drive to Gunnison Point.
Nearby accommodations: book a room at the comfortable Wanderlust Hostel or camp overnight at Pulpit Rock Overlook. When camping, also pack plenty of non-cotton layers to keep warm since fires are not allowed and the area can get pretty chilly at night.
Recommended by Meg of Fox in the Forest
12. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (one of the most popular national parks to visit in April)
Location: Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina
Perfect for: wildlife, scenic drives, hiking
Average temps: 63 / 34
One of the best national parks to visit in April is the Great Smoky Mountains.
Spring is a great time to visit the park because of the beautiful wildflowers you will find throughout the park. There are over 1,500 flowering plants in the park. Some of the flowers are fire pink, white trillium, phacelia and lady slipper orchids, just to name a few.
Another good reason to visit in April is lots of outfitters and providers are fully operational by April after being closed over the winter season but you will be ahead of the large summer crowds.
You can also expect to see lots of newborn wildlife that is born in the Spring like elk, deer, and bears.
There are so many fun things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One of the most scenic viewpoints and hikes is Clingmans Dome. The hike is 1.2 miles but is considered a moderate hike because of the elevation gain up to the lookout. At the top, you will find unbeatable views of the Smokies for up to 100 miles!
A beautiful drive that will take you through the heart of the Smoky Mountains is Cades Cove. It’s an 11-mile-long drive. Along the way, keep an eye out for wildlife. It’s a popular place to see bears, elk, and other wildlife.
Weather can be unpredictable in the spring, so it is a good idea to bring a good rain jacket, some warmer clothes, and an umbrella.
Nearby accommodations: Gatlinburg is a great place to find accommodations during your stay in the Smoky Mountains. The Greystone Lodge on the River is close to a lot of attractions in downtown Gatlinburg and has lots of fun onsite accommodations like an outdoor swimming pool and fitness center.
Recommended by Candice of CS Ginger
13. Saguaro National Park
Location: Southern Arizona
Perfect for: wildlife, wildflowers, hiking
Average temps: 83 / 52
If you’re looking for the best national parks to visit in spring, look no further than Arizona. Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona, is home to America’s largest cacti. The giant saguaro is the universal symbol of the Southwest. These majestic plants are found only in the Sonoran Desert.
There are 25 species of cacti in this area, and the largest saguaro is where the park gets its name. The cacti are very tall, averaging over 40 feet (12 m) in height. In Saguaro National Park you’ll have the opportunity to see these huge saguaro cacti against the backdrop of magnificent surrounding mountains.
It’s worth visiting the park in April, as the temperature is perfect for hiking. The average high temperature is 83°F and the low is 52°F. Even though April is warm, it pays to wear sturdy shoes with a good sole, long pants, sweatshirts, or long-sleeved shirts. All this serves to protect the body from possible cactus spines.
Another reason to travel to Saguaro National Park in April is that the best wildflowers are seen from mid-March to mid-April. This is also the time when there are the most birds in the park. In addition, April is perfect for a visit because the Saguaro cacti bloom from April to June.
Be sure to see both parts when you visit, as the park has two districts: Rincon Mountain District (east) and Tucson Mountain District (west). Both have great driving loops with stops and overlooks.
Hiking is one of the best things to do in Saguaro, as there are 165 miles of trails in both districts.
Great trails for everyone include the Cactus Wren Trail, Signal Hill Petroglyphs Trail, Valley View Overlook Trail, Mica View Loop, and Cactus Forest Trail. And most of all, it’s worth waiting for sunset, because sunsets are the most spectacular and moving views in the park.
Nearby accommodations: the best idea is to stay for a night in Tucson, which offers wide accommodation for each budget. A great choice will be Hampton Inn & Suites Tucson East and Holiday Inn Express Tucson.
Recommended by Agnes of The Van Escape
14. Zion National Park
Location: Southwest Utah
Perfect for: hiking, wildlife, scenic drives
Average temps: 66 / 36
Have you ever heard of the Mighty 5? The Mighty 5 is a common name to refer to the 5 unique national parks in Southern Utah: Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands.
Each of those 5 national parks has something special to offer, but Zion National Park is the most visited. And for a good reason: it’s a beautiful national park filled with canyons, red rocks and waterfalls.
While it’s open year-round, April is a great time to visit. It’s less crowded than in the summer and less hot. The temperature can get really high in the summer. It feels more comfortable in the spring especially if you plan on hiking. Plus, spring is a good time to watch newborn wild animals.
There are many great hiking options while in Zion, such as The Narrows, Angels Landing, the Observation Point and the Emerald Pools.
There are a few things to consider when planning a hiking trip in Zion National Park in April.
- Because it’s in high altitude, there might still be some snow and you could expect a snowfall or two. Plan your clothes and hiking boots accordingly. Then, April is the time of the year where the snow melts. Some hiking trails may be closed or slippery.
- In April, you can also experience flash flooding in canyons. Flash flood can be really dangerous, so you’ll want to avoid hiking in slots and canyons, such as The Narrows trail. It’s safer to avoid that trail when flash floods are expected.
- Also, starting April 1st, 2022, a permit will be required to hike Angel’s Landing, so make sure you get the permit before you head to Zion. April is also the starting month of the Zion National Park shuttle bus.
Nearby accommodations: for nearby accommodations with easy access to the park, consider staying in Springdale. The Holiday Inn Express Springdale is conveniently located and with amenities like a pool, it’s the perfect spot to round out your Zion NP trip.
Recommended by Emilie of Love Life Abroad
15. Shenandoah National Park
Location: Northern Virginia
Perfect for: wildflowers, wildlife, scenic drives
Average temps: 56 / 36
In April, come seeking mountain wildflowers at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Be on the lookout for Pink Lady’s Slippers, Wild Geraniums, Purple and Yellow Violets, Trout Lilies, Bloodroot and Large-flowered Trillium.
This national park lies just 75 miles from the nation’s capital. There are 862 species of flowering plants in the park. They are easiest found along streams such as South River, Hughes River, Rose River, and Mill Prong. Azaleas and White Mountain Laurel Bloom in late spring.
Contact the National Park Service’s website to download a Wildflower Calendar to catalog your finds during your travels.
Walkers can hike through forests or dangle their toes in waterfalls. Be prepared to jump over streams! This the of adventure is yet another reason why Shenandoah is one of the best national parks to visit in April!
Shenandoah National Park boasts 200,000 acres of protected land. Wildlife includes bobcats, black bears, white-tailed deer and bats. Climbers will want to tackle Stony Man and Hawksbill.
The peaks exceed 4,000 feet. If you prefer a leisurely pace, pack up the SUV or car and explore Skyline Drive. It will take about 3 hours to travel the length of the park. The drive runs 105 miles north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park.
From the north, enter Skyline Drive at Front Royal. Stop at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center to talk to a park ranger and pick up literature.
Recommended by Terri of Female Solo Trek
Best national park to visit in April (continued)
Ready to had off on your adventure yet? A few favorites are up next. Let’s keep going!
16. Yosemite National Park (perhaps the best national park to visit in April)
Location: Eastern California
Perfect for: wildflowers, hiking
Average temps: 65 / 37
While crowds flock to Yosemite during summer, spring is one of the most beautiful seasons to visit the national park.
Lodging in the Valley is far less competitive, trails are quieter, weather is more moderate and waterfalls are on full display due to snowmelt in the surrounding Sierras.
In April, average daytime temperatures hover in the 60’s, and lower elevation trails are mostly free of snow. It’s truly one of the best national parks to visit in April!
While it’s still a tad early for Yosemite National Park’s wildflower season, it’s a great time to spot California poppies on your way into the park.
Certain high elevation trails remain closed in April, but the iconic Mist Trail usually opens during this month and the Yosemite Falls Trail is also largely snow free.
Lower Yosemite Falls is a nice 1-mile loop hike that’s ideal for families with young children, and the Yosemite Valley Loop Trail is a wonderful longer option. It meanders through meadows and past streams amongst the towering rock formations that Yosemite is so well known for.
Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road are closed in April due to snow, so it’s best to enter the park from the west via Highways 41 or 140. While unlikely, snow storms are still possible in April and it’s wise to travel with chains or snow tires. Waterproof boots and an insulated jacket are also a must when visiting during spring.
Nearby accommodations: for Yosemite lodging, the Yosemite Valley Lodge and Curry Village are centrally located and arguably the most popular accommodation options in the park. For those prepared to camp (remember, April nights can be chilly!), Lower Pines and North Pines Campgrounds typically open mid-April, and Upper Pines Campground is operational year-round.
Recommended by Jenna of Up and Away Magazine
17. Canyonlands National Park
Location: Southeastern Utah
Perfect for: hiking, scenic views
Average temps: 67 / 37
Canyonlands National Park is one of the most underrated parks on this list. It lives in the shadows of the nearby Arches National Park but actually offers superior hiking!
With average temperatures in the upper 60’s for highs, Canyonlands is one of the best national parks to visit in April for excellent weather!
When visiting Canyonlands, visitors should see the Mesa Arch, the Green River Overlook, and the Shafer Trail Overlook. If you’re up for hiking with great views, the Grand View Point Trail is one of the best hikes in Canyonlands National Park.
Most hikes in Canyonlands don’t require a lot of hiking gear, however hiking poles may come in handy on a few trails with more difficult terrain. Definitely be sure to pack eco-friendly sunscreen though, the sun is powerful in Utah!
Nearby accommodations: after a long day of exploring, it will feel good to lay your head down in nearby Moab. The SpringHill Suites by Marriott Moab is one of the hotels on the edge of town, closest to Canylands NP. The suites are set up nicely for traveling families or those looking for a bit more space.
By the way, there’s lots of things to do in Moab outside of the national parks, if you want to round out your Utah vacation.
Recommended by me – Nikki of She Saves She Travels
18. Pinnacles National Park (best weather on this list of best national parks in April)
Location: West-central California
Perfect for: wildlife, hiking
Average temps: 70 / 37
Pinnacles National Park is the newest national park in California, having just received its designation in 2013. It’s located just 2 hours south of San Francisco and an hour east of Monterey, so it makes a nice day trip if you are visiting either of those destinations.
April is a great time to visit, as the area can get very hot in the summer and frigid in the winter, making springtime weather ideal for exploring Pinnacles National Park.
Pinnacles gets its name from the beautiful, towering rock formations that jut from the landscape, formed by a volcano more than 20 million years ago. Today, the park boasts more than 30 miles of hiking trails, so you can explore the rocks as well as caves, chaparral, fields, forests, and beautiful wildflowers in the springtime. Many of the hiking trails intersect, allowing you to customize the length and difficulty level of your hike.
In addition to hiking, Pinnacles National Park is a great place for wildlife viewing. Natives species include the California Condor, turkey vultures, hawks, bats, kangaroo rats and golden eagles.
Note, Pinnacles has 2 entrances – one to the west and one to the east – and they aren’t connected by roads. The west side of Pinnacles National Park is more remote and popular with day trippers looking to hike or rock climb. The east side offers more services and is home to the park’s pool and campground, but tends to get a lot busier!
Nearby accommodations: Situated between Pinnacles National Park and Monterey Bay, the Comfort Inn & Suites Salinas is a good option for those who are looking for a place to stay for a good value.
Recommended by Gwen of California Family Travel
19. Big Bend National Park
Location: Southwest Texas
Perfect for: scenic drive, adventure activities, camping, stargazing
Average temps: 77 / 55
If you’re looking for the best national parks to visit in April, then Big Bend National Park should definitely be on your list. Big Bend is one of the perfect Texas road trips that allow you to escape and become one with nature.
April is an especially great month to visit as the temperatures are warming up from the winter months, but have not yet entered the heat of the summer.
Big Bend is a huge National Park, covering more than 800,000 acres of land.
Be sure to get the most out of your time at Big Bend National Park by researching the trails and sights that you are interested in prior to your visit. For an easy hike down to the Rio Grande River, be sure and include a hike on the Closed Canyon Trailhead. If you are a lover of water, then you will want to include a hike to Cattail Falls on your list as well.
If you would choose a scenic drive over hiking, then you are in luck as Big Bend offers numerous scenic drives, many of which are on paved roads. Consider 6-mile Chisos Basin drive to see the desert and mountain habitat, or the 30-mile Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which highlights the geologic features of Big Bend.
Of course, Big Bend is also a great place to go kayaking, do some fishing or birdwatching, or just relax under the stars! Big Bend is also an International Dark Sky Park meaning that you can see over 2,000 stars at night!
Nearby accommodations: the park is busy this time of year, so plan in advance to reserve your accommodations! This is very important, as Big Bend is located in a very remote area of west Texas, so lodging options are extremely limited. Try the Paisano Village RV Park & Inn or the Rio Grande Village Campground.
Recommended by Michelle of That Texas Couple
20. Olympic National Park
Location: Northwest Washington
Perfect for: adventure activities, surfing, beach viewing, hiking
Average temps: 43 /23
Olympic National Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground year-round. However, April is one of the few months that allows you to experience its 4 distinct ecosystems in their prime: glaciated mountains, rugged Pacific coastline, temperate forests and lush rainforest.
For the snow lovers, enjoy an incredible mountainside drive to Hurricane Ridge for gorgeous snowshoe trails among massive snow-covered peaks. There are even a couple of rope tows if you’re feeling like a little shred session.
Once you’re good and cold, drive back down the mountain to warm up in Sol Duc Hot Springs’ geothermal pools. Your body will thank you!
If you’d rather take a deep dive into a little Pacific Northwest surf culture, take the stunning coastal drive down to La Push for some top-notch surfing. This park is one of the few places in the world where you can ski and surf in the same day!
Don’t miss this bucket list adventure! Olympic NP might just be the best national park to visit in April!
Looking for a snowless hike? Olympic has that too. Check out the Hoh Rainforest–one of just 5 rainforests in the US. Enjoy a short walk among lush, green, moss-covered trees. It’s like walking into a fairytale!
Nearby accommodations: The historic Lake Crescent Lodge, built in 1915, is a beautiful base camp for park-goers and sits at the shore of Lake Crescent’s clear blue waters. It’s an activity in and of itself!
Recommended by Eva of Wander in Raw
21. Grand Canyon National Park
Location: Northern Arizona
Perfect for: stargazing, sightseeing, hiking
Average temps: 83 / 55
April is the perfect time to visit Grand Canyon National Park.
The weather is neither too hot or too cold for hiking, unlike in summer where it can reach extreme and dangerous temperatures. Hiking is a must and there are hikes and trails for every experience level. Good hiking attire such as hiking boots, long pants, a hat and sunscreen are recommended.
If traveling with kids, try the easy Shoshone Point Trail through the pine forest, which comes in at just over 2 miles. Hopi Point Trail (3.8 miles) is perfect for sunset views. And for a trail with adventure, try the Cliff Springs Trail, at just 1.1 miles.
Don’t forget to catch the sunrise or sunset over the South Rim while you’re there! On a clear night you can also see the Milky Way Galaxy with the naked eye.
Nearby accommodations: Bright Angel Lodge is fantastic and situated within the park. Be sure to book early!
Recommended by Lauren of Freedom Not Fate
22. Badlands National Park (one of my favorite on this list of best national parks to visit in April)
Location: Southwestern South Dakota
Perfect for: scenic drive, wildlife, sightseeing, hiking
Average temps: 57 / 35
If you’re looking for the best national parks in April, then Badlands National Park should be on your list!
With temperatures in the upper 50’s on average, it’s a great time for hiking and exploring. One of the most popular things to do in Badlands National Park is drive the scenic loop, which starts on Interstate 90, through South Dakota Highway 240 and meets back up with I-90.
Be sure to check out Panorama Point, Yellow Mounds Overlook and Pinnacles Overlook.
Prairie Dogs are plentiful in Badlands NP. Keep your eyes out for bison and big horn sheep, too!
For a better look at the park, go hiking! One of the coolest things about Badlands National Park is it’s an open hike park. Meaning, you can hike on or off the trails. Just be sure to focus on where you’re going – the spires can all look the same after awhile.
A few favorite hiking trails are The Notch Trail and The Door Trail. April is the perfect time to hike these trails and avoid the summer crowds and winter snow!
Nearby accommodations: the closest city to the park is Rapid City. While you’ll find a variety of accommodations there, the Sleep Inn & Suites Rapid City has a nice setup with easy access to the interstate to the park.
Recommended by me – Nikki of She Saves She Travels
Bonus: Cumberland Island National Seashore
Location: Southeast Georgia
Perfect for: beach viewing, history, wildlife
Average temps: 76 / 58
What was once was a playground for the rich and famous is now one of the most exclusive National Parks. Cumberland Island National Seashore features stunning sugary beaches, marshland, iconic moss draped trees, historic ruins.
It’s also known worldwide for its population of wild horses. Hundreds of wild horses call this island home, they can often be found around the Dungeness Ruins, or trotting past sea turtles and horseshoe crabs on the 16 miles of white sand beaches.
In keeping with the exclusive theme, the National Park Service limits the number of visitors to just 300 per day and the island is only accessible via boat. There is a ferry that departs from St. Marys, Georgia to the island.
Cumberland Island National Seashore is an amazing day trip from Savannah, Jacksonville and the Golden Isles. April is an amazing time to visit the island because the weather is cooler and the bugs are at a minimum.
Be sure to pack your own snack or lunch, beverages, sunscreen and bug spray as amenities are limited on the island.
Cumberland Island National Seashore is definitely a place that you don’t want to miss!
Nearby accommodations: the historic Greyfield Inn, built by the Carnegie family, offers overnight guests the epitome of sophisticated southern hospitality. If the upscale Greyfield Inn is a bit over your price range, there are also camp sites available on the island. Reservations for camping can be made up to 6 months in advance and a permit is required to camp.
Recommended by Elle of 5 Suitcases
Best national parks to visit in April
Wow, what a list, right!? Whether you’re up for hiking, scenic drives or incredible adventures, there are so many national parks to visit in April.
The best wildflowers and sights from sea to sea, there’s so much to explore!
Let’s recap the list again, in a more condensed manner…
Best national parks to visit in the spring
- Redwood National Park
- Arches National Park
- Virgin Islands National Park
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Haleakala National Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Dry Tortugas National Park
- Petrified Forest National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Saguaro National Park
- Zion National Park
- Shenandoah National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Pinnacles National Park
- Big Bend National Park
- Olympic National Park
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Badlands National Park
- Cumberland Island National Seashore
Related content you’ll love:
28 Absolute Best National Parks to Visit in Summer
How to Pack for a Day Hike (What Not to Forget)
30 Top USA Hikes that are Actually Easy
100 Most Romantic Destinations in the USA
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