Snow is melting and days are slowly becoming longer, as it becomes obvious that spring is right around the corner. It's a time of year that we, and many of our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers, look forward to.
And why not? Nature bursts forth with life, plants are in bloom, and everyone is a little more eager to get outdoors and explore.
With so many stretched across the country, there's a fantastic selection of National Parks that are ideal for spring. Crowds are just right, wildlife is blooming, and the parks seem to be as they are meant to be seen. With the help of the folks at TripSavvy.com, check out the list below (and please leave your thoughts in the comments!).
Joshua Tree National Park, California
From afar, Joshua Tree National Park can seem like a long stretch of quiet desert. However, many visitors are surprised to find that the park is full of vitality. And springtime brings out the best of the best.
In late February, the trees that gave the park its name begin to bloom with their large, creamy flowers. The rest of the park follows with annual flowers popping up. In April and May, the cacti are bursting with bright flowers, and Joshua Tree National Park becomes a desert in bloom.
Spring also is the best season for birdwatching. Many are in transit or getting ready to nest. Joshua Tree offers the birds a relaxing warm home, away from the harsh weather during migration. Average temperatures at Joshua Tree National Park reach as high as 85 degrees in the afternoon and 50 in the evenings.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park blooms with colors of red maples and bright wildflowers in the spring. Every turn reveals a new color, new sound, and new sight.
Shenandoah is popular in the parks world as it offers two completely different ways to experience the land. While some visitors choose a scenic drive along Skyline Drive, others opt to explore meadows and forests on foot. With each step, visitors can expect to see a gorgeous plant or an animal, especially deer, or hear the chirps of migrating birds.
April and May are the peak time for wildflower enthusiasts as trilliums cover forest floors. Pink azaleas bloom in May closely followed by mountain laurel in June. Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities for birdwatching, hiking, nature walks, biking, and fishing.
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Avoid the crowds and visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park for a unique and exciting adventure.
The park allows visitors to explore a world more than 700 feet below the earth's surface. Carlsbad Caverns holds a total of 116 caves — and offers rooms of limestone, stalagmites, stalactites, cave pearls, and underground lakes. Visitors can experience cave rooms full of fissures, tunnels, and even some with unexplained noises. Guided tours offer opportunities to learn about rock formation, cave exploration, and the animals who can survive at such deep depths.
Spring is a great time to visit Carlsbad Caverns due to the bats. Seventeen species of bats live in the park and many are present in April and May, including Mexican Free-tailed Bats who emerge from caves in groups, flying up and counter-clockwise for three hours.
Redwood National Park, California
Combine the country's tallest trees, a forest of wildflowers, and even sightings of whales and other wildlife, and you've got Redwood National Park in the springtime.
Everywhere you look in this California national park you'll see nature in bloom. The tall trees are bursting with green and the forests are full of life. In April and May, forest floors crawl with bright violets, trilliums, and rhododendrons. Be sure to look for banana slugs during the days — harmless and a little gross, they live up to their name and grab attention with their chubby, yellow bodies.
If you step out of the forest, you may get a real treat—whale watching. In early spring, migrating gray whales can be spotted along the coast, which is an ideal spot to let calves rest.
You may also be happy to know that the park is less crowded in the spring.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina
With over 800 miles of trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers plenty of opportunities to take in beauty everywhere you look. Walking, hiking and mountain biking trails abound and lead to other fun activities like fishing and camping. During spring, trails are surrounded by blooming wildflowers — more than 1,600 kinds, which is more than any other national park in North America. Of note, spring brings flowers only seen for a few months. Spring ephemerals appear in early spring, flower, fruit, and die within a two-month period. Blooming generally takes place during February-April.
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
The cactus that gives Saguaro National Park its name has long been recognized as a symbol of the American West, but the giant plants are actually only found in a small portion of the U.S. They are more than massive cacti, also serving as shelters and reserves of water for much of the wildlife that calls this park home. And they bloom in spring.
Springtime brings with it the beauty of flowers — from blooming wildflowers like the gold Mexican poppy, red penstemons, and desert marigolds. Even trees, shrubs, and other cacti are in bloom, like creosote bushes, chollas, and hedgehogs.
Those looking for adventure have ample opportunity with hiking opportunities. Hikers can travel upwards, increasing elevation from 3,000 feet to over 8,000 feet, all within about 15 miles. The park has many trails ranging in difficulty and chances for backcountry exploration and camping.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers visitors an opportunity to feel the beauty of solitude in a land of rivers, farmlands, and hills. It can be pretty shocking when you consider how close it is to the busy cities of Cleveland and Akron.
The park is full of natural beauty — wildflowers and waterfalls — but is also rich in history, with a stretch of the Ohio and Erie Canal. Visitors can't help but stand in awe of the 60-foot Brandywine Falls, which is accessible by a nature hike.
Spring takes this park's beauty to new heights in the springtime as flowers burst with color, rolling hills are covered in greens, and wildlife is bubbling with newborn animals. Visitors can take nature hikes to spot animals, scenic train rides to learn the land's history and guided tours for birdwatching. There are also opportunities for camping, boating, canoeing, and horseback riding.
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
While hiking enthusiasts wait for the warmth of June and July to visit Voyageurs National Park, others should know spring offers activities and beauty of its own. Instead of a typical park tour, picture yourself gliding down a narrow waterway, hearing the cries of a loon, and watching as the sun sets in an orange sky.
Voyageurs National Park truly offers a unique experience and forces visitors to enjoy a trip that's anything but standard.
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park is a stunning park no matter the season. Spring takes its grand appearance to new levels.
When you first see Zion, it's hard not to be blown away by the massive canyon walls. And visitors are encouraged to explore those canyons, sandstone cliffs, and rugged trails in order to truly appreciate the park's beauty. Mazes of orange and pink canyons are surrounded by lower desert areas and higher elevated forests, all of which offer their own stunning features.
Although known for being hot and dry, the park has almost 900 native species of plants, 75 species of mammals, and almost 300 species of birds. Hikes and guided walks offer the perfect opportunity for wildlife spotting such as coyotes, beavers, ringtails, mule deer, and the occasional mountain lion.
What makes this park amazing in the springtime is the chance to see canyon walls covered in hanging gardens of wildflowers. The rain typical of the spring helps these flowers bloom and the risk of blah weather is worth the risk in order to see them. And trails perfect for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and mountain climbing offer great opportunities to see such beauty.
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park offers nothing short of dramatic beauty in the spring. Clouds hang low on fiords while lower light levels bring out the blues of the glaciers. And as snow pounds onto the mountains above, glaciers crack and rumble into the icy waters, echoing loudly.
As global warming and environmental issues become more evident in the world, time continues to run out to savor this park's beauty. Tidewater glaciers, deep fjords, and freshwater rivers and lakes make up this stunning park and remind all who visit that we are connected deeply to our landscape. Whether you take a guided boat tour to spot marine life or explore rugged terrain by foot, Glacier Bay leaves no one disappointed. Visitors can choose from a healthy list of activities including cruises, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, rafting, and mountaineering.
From stunning glaciers and humpback whales to hemlock forests and mountain goats, Glacier Bay feels like an untouched wonder whose beauty won't last forever.
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