What are the Best National Parks to Visit in April?

The United States offers 63 national parks for you to explore and enjoy. If you would like to plan a spring trip, there are a few things to consider. The good news is April is an excellent time to visit many of our parks. We will outline the best national parks to visit in April in the US so you can plan your adventure.

Let’s first dive into the pros of cons of visiting a national park in April.

Pros of a National Park Visit in April

For many, summer is the peak travel season due to weather and scheduling.

A national park visit in April has its advantages, including:

  • Smaller crowds
  • Avoid sweltering temperatures
  • Potentially save money on travel expenses and accommodations
  • Some parks offer unique experiences this time of year

Cons of a National Park Visit in April

Although you may avoid more extensive crowds and extreme heat, you may encounter issues such as:

  • Fewer open areas and activities due to limited staffing or cold conditions
  • Spring break travelers
  • Greater likelihood of rain in some areas

Let’s explore the best places for you to go in April.

Grand Canyon National Park

Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

Housed in Arizona, the famous Grand Canyon draws visitors from around the globe. Like the ocean, the massive canyon spans your entire field of vision. Its beauty and size are simultaneously mind-boggling and breathtaking.

Weather

April brings an average high of 61 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 26 at night. The weather is typically pleasant, with very little chance of rain. Snow is possible but usually only lasts for a short time.

Why visit the Grand Canyon in April

With cooler temperatures and smaller crowds, April is an excellent time to see the Grand Canyon. You can expect cooler temperatures along the rim and warmer temperatures inside the canyon, making April perfect for hiking.

Top things to do in the Grand Canyon

Although the North Rim is still closed, the South Rim offers plenty to see and do. You can take scenic drives along Desert View Drive and Hermit Road. Both routes provide various overlooks where you can peer over the mile-deep canyon. The gorge is so deep there are many spots where you cannot even see the Colorado River.

Hiking is popular this time of year due to comfortable temperatures. The South Rim offers rewarding hikes, including the Rim, South Kaibab, Hermit, and Bright Angel Trails. 

While exploring the park, watch for elk. Although large, they can be surprisingly quiet.

If you’re going hiking, make sure to get some great quality hiking sunglasses – also check out our hiking gear guide.

Check out these Grand Canyon activities.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

The Guadalupe Mountains National Park rests in the Chihuahuan Desert in western Texas, just south of the New Mexico border. It is one of America’s least-visited national parks. The park comprises five districts that house rugged mountains, deserts, white gypsum dunes, and red quartz hills. 

As a bonus, you will find two other national parks nearby. You can reach Carlsbad Caverns National Park within a 45-minute drive and White Sands National Park in 3 hours.

Weather

The average high temperature in April is 71 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average low is 46. You can expect warm and pleasant weather with plenty of sunshine. Temperatures are five to ten degrees cooler in higher mountain elevations. Salt Basin Dunes, one of the park’s districts, regularly sees temperatures five to ten degrees above these averages.

Why visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park in April

The windy season in the Guadalupe Mountains regularly occurs from November through March. During that time, the area consistently has 30-mile-per-hour winds with gusts from 50 to 80 miles per hour. April offers a small window after the windy season and before the temperatures heat up in May.

Top things to do in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The park offers many rewarding hikes that take you through rocky canyons, rugged mountains, and boulders. You gain spectacular views along the journey. 

Devil’s Hall Trail includes a natural staircase and a narrow hall between two steep canyon walls. You can hike to the “top of Texas” on the Guadalupe Peak Trail. Other popular hikes include the Permian Reef Trail and the trek to Pratt Cabin. The cabin has rocking chairs where you can rest with an alluring view of the mountains.

Although not the tallest mountain, El Capitan, the park’s most prominent peak, makes for excellent photos. Suppose you aim to see wildlife, hike to Manzanita Spring or Smith Spring near sunset.

To see the white gypsum dunes and red quartz hills, head to the park’s Salt Basin Dunes district.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

Located in northern Ohio between Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park delivers a unique assortment of landscapes and activities. The park honors Ohio’s history, provides beautiful scenery, and plenty of recreational opportunities.

Weather

The temperature reaches an average high of 57 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low of 38 in April. Snow is possible but less likely as the month progresses. Although the warming weather brings sunshine, rain is possible this time of year.

Why visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park in April

Spring rain yields colorful blooming wildflowers and abundant gushing waterfalls. The park contains Bath Road Heronry, a nesting colony for hundreds of great blue herons from mid-February through June. You can witness courtship displays and great blue herons raising their young.

Top things to do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Visit Bath Road Heronry to watch the great blue herons. If you want to see more wildlife, go to Beaver Marsh. The peaceful, boggy area teems with various flora and fauna. Check out Brandywine Falls, a gorgeous 60-foot cascading waterfall. 

Ledges Trail is a wooded path that leads you to a natural stone viewing platform, Ledges Overlook. The spot yields terrific views and makes for a perfect place for a memorable sunset.

You can hike or bike along the Towpath Trail, which follows the historic Ohio and Erie Canal, and is the same path where mules pulled canal boats in the 1800s and early 1900s. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) offers themed train rides within the park year-round. Visit the CVSR site to see the schedule, availability, and pricing.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park
Photo credit: NPS

Straddling the borders of eastern California and Nevada, Death Valley National Park is America’s hottest, driest, and lowest national park. It is a land of extremes and contrasts with a surprising diversity of life that defies its name.

Weather

April brings an average high of 90 degrees and a low of 62. Although hot, May through September averages exceed 100 degrees. The chances of rain are slim to none. You can expect the weather to be hot and dry.

Why visit Death Valley National Park in April

You have two good reasons to visit the park in April. First, the average high temperature is below 100 degrees. Second, you have an outside chance to see a superbloom. 

What is a superbloom? It is a rare desert occurrence where an unusually high number of wildflowers blossom simultaneously, blanketing the desert in a vast splash of brilliant colors.

Top things to do in Death Valley National Park

Beyond praying for a superbloom, Death Valley is a top-notch place for stargazing due to a lack of light pollution. Visit during a new moon for even darker skies. 

Visit the gorgeous erosional landscape of Zabriskie Point. Take a scenic tour on Artist’s Drive, where you will see multi-colored eroded hills, including the surreal Artist’s Palette.

Visit the massive salt flats of Badwater Basin, the lowest point in all of North America. With a drive and a short hike, you can overlook the valley and Badwater Basin from Dante’s View. 

Slide down the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and admire the mesquite trees that thrive amongst the rolling dunes in the harsh desert conditions. If you need a break from the heat or some entertainment, you can drive to Las Vegas.

Check out these activities in Death Valley National Park.

White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park
Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

A massive pocket of rolling dunes between two mountain ranges in New Mexico, White Sands National Park is an odd but beautiful playground. You may have your best beach day with stunning scenery and unique recreational opportunities.

Weather

April provides warm days and cool evenings, with an average high of 79 degrees and a low of 40. Rain is unlikely, but it can get windy in the spring.

Why visit White Sands National Park in April

Wildflowers typically begin to bloom in mid-April, including sand verbena, Hartweg’s sundrops, White Sands mustard, and yuccas. Although the white sands look magnificent against a blue sky, the wildflowers add unique touches of color. 

Note that the park often gets crowded near Easter and during spring break.

Top things to do in White Sands National Park

Sand sledding is a must-do activity at White Sands. Although climbing up dunes of loose sand is tiring, the ride down is a blast. 

You will not find an ocean, but you can still build a castle, dig, and play in the sand. The sand, made of gypsum, surprisingly does not absorb heat. So it feels cool on your hands and feet.

With beautiful scenery, the park is great for a photo shoot or a picnic. You can find hikes ranging from a boardwalk stroll to an intense journey of climbing dunes. With a bit of planning, you can see the dunes under the glow of a full moon on a ranger-led hike.

Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National Park
Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

You can find some of the world’s tallest trees burrowed in the northern California coast in the Redwood National and State Parks. The forests abound with beauty and serenity almost beyond comprehension.

Weather

April may bring some rain, but temperatures typically range from 42 to 59 degrees. Although the rainy season spans October through April, the last month usually brings less rain than the preceding months. May through September may have less rain, but the park gets crowded during this time.

Why visit Redwood National and State Parks in April

April is a small window of time with decreasing rains and small crowds. Wildflowers begin to bloom, adding bright coats of paint to the landscape.

Top things to do in Redwood National and State Parks

Drive the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, where you will find giant trees and many places to stop and explore. The parks provide many lovely forested trails, including Stout Grove Trail, Grove of Titans, Boy Scout Tree Trail, Fern Canyon, Tall Trees Grove, and Lady Bird Johnson Grove. All of the hikes are fantastic.

For those who love wildlife, Redwood National and State Parks house North America’s biggest species of elk, the Roosevelt elk. The beautiful animal can exceed 1,000 pounds.

A surprise to some visitors, the parks offer great tide pooling opportunities. You can cross a land bridge at low tide to visit Battery Point Lighthouse. During high tide, it is an island. Seals, sea lions, and birds inhabit the lighthouse area.

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park
Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

Many visitors traveling to the western United States mistakenly expect to see giant cacti in abundance. Ironically, saguaros, the iconic giant cacti representing the American West, only grow in the Sonoran Desert. Head to Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona, and you will find nearly two million of them.

Weather

As you can imagine, the weather in the Sonoran desert is hot and dry. Temperatures in April are tolerable, with an average high of 83 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 52.

Why visit Saguaro National Park in April

Although temperatures are most comfortable in the winter, April has tolerable temperatures and blooming flowers. Desert wildflowers can start blooming in February, but many bloom from mid-March to mid-April. Saguaros can display colorful blossoms the last two weeks of April, often peaking in late May or early June.

Top things to do in Saguaro National Park

It is essential to note the park has two separate, unconnected areas:

  • Saguaro West: Tucson Mountain District
  • Saguaro East: Rincon Mountain District

Saguaro West has a more significant concentration of saguaros, while Saguaro East offers better mountain views. Both areas provide plenty of saguaros and surreal desert beauty.

Hiking is the park’s most popular activity. Walking beside the cacti puts in perspective their size and durability. As you hang out with the cacti, you will swear they develop personalities. Popular hikes in Saguaro West include Valley View Overlook Trail and Signal Hill Trail, which houses unique petroglyphs. Visitors to Saguaro East often suggest hiking the Mica View Loop.

Consider exploring the park by taking a scenic drive. Saguaro West offers Bajada Loop Drive, while Saguaro East has Cactus Forest Drive. You will gain excellent views of the cacti and mountains as the dust settles.

Saguaro National Park offers stunning sunsets as the sky glows behind the silhouettes of the cacti. Enjoy the view, cooling temperatures, and sounds of animals preparing to feed.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park
Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

Florida houses Everglades National Park, where a slow-moving river of grass contains alligators, turtles, fish, birds, and more. Exploring the park feels like a zoo without barriers where alligators bask in the sun along walking paths. Although beautiful, it can be scary at times.

Weather

Everglades National Park has two seasons, wet and dry. The dry season runs from December through April. You can expect an average high of 85 degrees and a low of 61. Although warm, it is not nearly as hot and humid as the wet season.

Why visit Everglades National Park in April

Since it is the last month of the dry season, you can expect warm temperatures with fewer mosquitoes. You also have greater chances of spotting wildlife. Once the temperatures start climbing in May, many animals hide throughout the day. 

Top things to do in Everglades National Park

One of the most exciting things to do in Everglades National Park is to take an airboat tour. Zipping next to alligators in the river of grass is a thrill ride. 

There are plenty of hiking trails where you can observe wildlife. Anhinga Trail puts you next to alligators, turtles, and many birds. It contains paved and boardwalk sections and is an absolute delight. The water is so clear you will readily detect fish and turtles beneath the lily pads. 

If you prefer to avoid hiking, you can ride a bicycle or take a tram tour. You can kayak through a maze of mangrove islands in the park’s western section. Manatees occasionally swim in Flamingo, the park’s southern district. Visitors regularly spot crocodiles and ospreys in Flamingo.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park
Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

Nestled in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park offers a blissful forested mountain escape. Serenity envelops you as you soak up gorgeous views hiking through the woods and peering out at mountains from spectacular overlooks.

Weather

The average high for April is 56 degrees, while the low is 36. Temperatures can vary considerably from the mountainous elevations to the lower valleys. It is still somewhat cool, and rain is certainly possible this time of year.

Why visit Shenandoah National Park in April

Shenandoah National Park draws large crowds in summer and fall. Spring is a great time to visit when crowd levels are lower. Blooming wildflowers highlight the landscapes like paint on a canvas. Although many of the park’s waterfalls are lackluster or nonexistent in summer, you should find gushing waterfalls in April.

Top things to do in Shenandoah National Park

The 105-mile Skyline Drive is one of America’s best scenic drives, with 75 overlooks. Take your time and savor the views. You may encounter white-tailed deer or black bears on your journey.

The park offers more than 500 miles of beautiful, forested trails. You can find everything from challenging multiple-day treks to short, easy hikes. Stony Man Trail and Blackrock Summit offer rewarding hikes with excellent views. Upper Hawksbill Trail takes you to the park’s highest summit, while Dark Hollow Falls Trail yields a picturesque waterfall.

For those seeking more extreme adventures, you can try mountain biking, bouldering, or rock climbing.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park
Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

Located in Arizona, Petrified Forest National Park showcases stone logs, striped mounds, badlands, and portions of historic Route 66. The park offers surreal landscapes that often get overlooked due to the state’s feature park, the Grand Canyon.

Weather

Average daily temperatures swing from 35 to 70 degrees in April. Although the region’s rainfall is low, snow or rain is possible this time of year.

Why visit Petrified Forest National Park in April

Crowd levels are low in April. Due to the remaining moisture coming out of the winter months, the surreal striated landscapes pop with even brighter colors. It is magical.

Top things to do in Petrified Forest National Park

You can see the park’s highlights in one day. The main park road is a 28-mile loop with places to stop and explore. Combine the drive with a few short hikes, and you will have the makings of a delightful day.

You gain lovely views of the badlands from various overlooks along the main road. The Tepees, large roadside mounds with brightly painted layers, also await you. 

Hike the Blue Mesa Trail, where you gain close views of beautiful striped hills. Crystal Forest, another short but popular hike, loops around a field littered with petrified logs. Newspaper Rock is an overlook with viewfinders pointed at more than 650 petroglyphs. Stop at the old Studebaker for a photo op and pay homage to Route 66.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Photo credit: NPS / Victoria Stauffenberg

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park stretches along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, offering misty mountain views and many recreational opportunities. The mountain retreat contains lush forests, bright wildflowers, flowing waterfalls, exciting wildlife, and more.

Weather

Mid-April regularly brings milder temperatures, with daytime temperatures reaching the 70s. Temperatures can dip below freezing at night in higher elevations. Afternoon showers are common this time of year.

Why visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park in April

As America’s most visited park, the Great Smoky Mountains get especially crowded in summer and fall. If you can avoid Easter and spring break, crowd levels will be lower with mild weather in the second half of April. The spring temperatures and rain reward you with beautiful wildflowers and full waterfalls.

Top things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

With forests, mountains, and waterfalls, hiking is one of the park’s most popular activities. If you are up for a steep, half-mile climb, you can ascend Clingman’s Dome, the park’s highest point. At the top, you will find an observation tower yielding exquisite views. 

If you love waterfalls, hike Roaring Fork, where you will encounter Rainbow Falls, Grotto Falls, and the Place of a Thousand Drips. Favorite hikes of visitors also include Rocky Top, Laurel Falls, and Chimney Tops.

The park provides many roads for an auto tour. If you love scenic drives, consider the Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Shenandoah National Park on a gorgeous 469-mile drive with 26 tunnels and more than 200 overlooks.

You can visit one or both of the park’s historic grist mills for something different. Cable Mill is water powered while Mingus Mill is turbine powered. 

Black bear sightings are pretty common in the Smokies. While exploring the park, be aware of your surroundings.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park
Photo credit: Joshua Tree National Park

Resting in southern California, Joshua Tree National Park is home to its bristled and twisted namesake trees that share the harsh desert environment with unique, rugged rock formations. The park is a conjunction of two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and Colorado, that harbor a variety of fascinating flora and fauna.

Weather

You can expect temperatures in the upper 40s at night and upper 70s during the day. It is one of the most comfortable times of the year, and there is very little chance of rain.

Why visit Joshua Tree National Park in April

March and April present desert wildflowers in bloom, highlighting the normally drab landscape. With little rain and comfortable temperatures, the park draws quite a few visitors this time of year to see the flowers and hike. Despite an uptick in visitors, the temperatures and flowers make March and April a great time to visit.

Top things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

With unique rock formations, Joshua trees, and various cacti, hiking and exploring are the most popular things to do in the park. Top hikes include Skull Rock Trail and Arch Rock Trail. You can also find Heart Rock near Arch Rock Trail. These iconic rocks make great photo ops.

Explore Hidden Valley, a large bowl-shaped basin surrounded by boulders and stacks of rocks. You will find a loop trail on the basin’s interior. Head to Keys View, where you gain a fantastic vantage point of valleys and mountains for as far as you can see.

The peaceful Cholla Cactus Garden, with mountains in the background, is perfect for photos. You will find several oases in the park to explore as well. 

Walking along the surreal landscapes throughout the park makes for an enjoyable day. Nightfall brings an excellent opportunity for stargazing. Joshua Tree National Park is an International Dark Sky Park. Try not to visit during a full moon, and you should discover the stunning Milky Way.

See also: Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park

Wrap-up: Best national parks to visit in April

Summer is not the only time to visit a national park in the US. An April visit offers mild temperatures and smaller crowds. Some parks have unique opportunities this time of year as well. Like a wildflower, your national park adventures can bloom in April.

For more tips on visiting national parks in the US, check out the below posts:

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