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These Are The Top 7 National Parks To Visit This Spring

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Allowing the sheer majesty of America’s national parks to steal your breath and refresh your spirit is an experience that travelers from all over long for. 

While nature is magnificent year-round, variables like seasonal closures, crowds, and weather conditions are important to consider when planning a trip.

We know that as winter thaws out, everyone is itching to venture outside–that’s why we compiled our list of the top 7 national parks to visit.

Factors like best weather, seasonal natural phenomena, entry requirements, and upcoming events were prioritized when creating the following list.

Joshua Tree National Park, California in bloom with spring wildflowers

Cuyahoga National Park

We all dream of the surreal landscapes of national parks out west, but have you heard of this midwestern gem? 

Located about an hour south of Cleveland, you’ll discover rushing waterfalls and interesting land formations carved from glaciers at Cuyahoga.

But the real reason to visit this season is that the park falls in the path of totality for the much anticipated 2024 solar eclipse.

On April 8, at 3:13 the moon will completely cover the sun.

Visitors can expect totality to last around 4 minutes and should prepare for traffic and crowds as many will gather to witness the eclipse.

Brandywine Falls Cuyahoga National Park Ohio

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

The gentle mountains of Appalachia are the perfect place to trade life’s stressors for crisp springs, dense forests, and secluded waterfalls. 

Great Smoky Mountain National Park is home to over 1500 species of flowering plants that come alive in spring (more biodiversity than any other park in North America!).

If you can visit on May 1-4, you’ll catch the national park’s 74th Annual Spring Wildlife Flower Pilgrimage.

This festival includes professionally guided walks educating on local flora and fauna, exhibitions, and various workshops on everything from pottery to foraging.

Great Smoky Mountains vista with wildflower blooms

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Visiting this lesser-known national park is a unique experience. 

Home to the tallest sand dunes in the country, you can hike to the top for a surreal view of the neighboring dunes and mountains. 

Adrenaline seekers can rent equipment and partake in the fun of sandboarding down the dunes.

Located 200 miles south of Denver, spring is the best time to visit this national park before the weather becomes uncomfortably hot.

Springtime visitors will also benefit from arriving in time to tube on Medano Creek– a seasonal river created from mountain snow melt.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Hot Springs National Park

If chasing the rare eclipse totality is a priority for you, this underrated national park is a great spring destination. 

One of only 2 national parks that will experience totality this year, you can watch the eclipse from Hot Springs on April 8th. 

The charmed surrounding town of Hot Springs, Arkansas will be hosting all kinds of eclipse festivities including music festivals and vendor booths.

Spring is also the perfect time to enjoy soaking in the glorious hot springs while daytime temperatures are still cool.

Hot Water Cascade, Hot Springs National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

This surreal desert ecosystem is best visited in spring before the stifling heat of summer sets in. 

You’ll find all kinds of weird and wacky plant life among these landscapes, from various cacti to the iconic gnarled Joshua trees.

Another benefit of visiting in spring is to see the flowers blooming in a neon pop of color reminiscent of the trees of The Lorax movie.

And while more national parks than ever have called for timed entries and advance reservations, Joshua Tree does not currently require either.

Joshua Tree National Park

Yellowstone National Park

If you want more solitude and fewer selfie sticks, spring is the time to visit this wildly popular park.

Yellowstone is home to the greatest wildlife density in the lower 48 states, and visiting in April is a magical time to see baby animals.

Young bison nurse at their mothers' sides, bear cubs crawl out of their dens, and wolf packs play with their young during this special time of year.

Yellowstone National Park

Death Valley

This national park lives up to its name as its 120 degree daytime highs can be dangerous in the summertime. 

Death Valley's landscape is fascinating and varied–you can check out the lowest point in the North America (Bad Water Basin), or look out over rolling hills and geological formations. 

One of the most epic places in the US for stargazing, this national park is hosting its Dark Sky Festival March 1-3 this year. 

The festival will include educational talks on astronomy and the opportunity to learn from scientists out in the park.

Wildflower blooms bring the national park into full color throughout the spring months. 

And if conditions are perfect, you may witness a rare super bloom–a desert phenomena when an unusally high number of wildflowers bloom all at once.

death valley

If you’re willing to brave potential crowds for a deal, all the national parks will have free entry April 20, 2024 to kick off national park week.

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