RV travel and destinations

The Best National Parks to Visit in Spring [National Park Week]

Posted on April 16, 2024

The Best National Parks to Visit in Spring [National Park Week]

Planning a spring visit to a national park?

Check out our guide to the best national parks for a spring adventure, featuring everything from vibrant wildflower displays to historic hikes.

Learn why parks like Death Valley and the Great Smoky Mountains are perfect this season, including tips on RV camping and must-see attractions.

Join us in celebrating National Park Week with a journey into America's stunning natural landscapes!

Table of contents
Death Valley National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Saguaro National Park
Big Bend National Park
Gateway Arch National Park
Indiana Dunes National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Shenandoah National Park

Why spring is a great time to visit a national park

Visiting national parks in the spring should be on your travel bucket list because springtime visitation brings fewer crowds and easier access to the parks' most popular destinations.

Spring is also the time to celebrate national parks. National Park Week, which takes place in April, starts with a free entry day and a week of fun both in person and online.

This year's National Park Week is from April 20-28, 2024.

Death Valley National Park

Photo © Chris LaBasco via Canva.com

Death Valley National Park, located in California and Nevada, is the largest national park in the contiguous United States. The park's average elevation of 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level is the lowest point in North America. The low elevation, high mountain ranges, and sparse vegetation make the park one of the hottest places on earth — but don't let the heat stop you from visiting. Although the winter is the best time to visit Death Valley, the spring temperatures are still comfortable, and the park's resilient wildflowers erupt, creating waves of color across the desolate landscape.

Where to stay

Death Valley National Park has eight RV-friendly campgrounds. All of them are first come, first served, except Furnace Creek Campground, Stovepipe Wells Campground, and Panamint Springs Campground, The Oasis at Death Valley Fiddlers' Campground, which accepts reservations during the cooler months.

Things to do in the spring

  • Take a wildflower walk at Badwater Basin or along Stateline Rd between Death Valley Junction and Pahrump. Want current wildflower sightings? Check out Death Valley's wildflower updates.
  • Hike Golden Canyon, Salt Creek Interpretive Trail, Badwater Salt Flat, Natural Bridge, or Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
  • Take in the views at Zabriskie Point.
  • Stargaze at Harmony Borax Works.
  • Look for hundreds of bird species migrating north.

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Grand Canyon National Park

Photo © Alexeys via Canva.com

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is known for its colorful rock formations, which were carved by the Colorado River millions of years ago. The canyon is 18 miles wide (29 kilometers) and 1 mile deep (1.6 kilometers). In spring, the Grand Canyon has more pleasant temperatures than its intense summer heat, and it's the time of year when wildflowers begin to bloom, and the park's wildlife becomes more active.

Where to stay

Grand Canyon National Park has several RV-friendly campgrounds, including Mather Campground, Trailer Village RV Park, Desert View Campground at the South Rim, and North Rim Campground at the North Rim. If you want to stay outside of the park, consider staying in Williams at the Grand Canyon/Williams KOA Journey or the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park.

Things to do in the spring

  • Hike one of the day hikes like the South Kaibab Trail, Bright Angel Trail, or Rim Trail.
  • Stop at Yavapai Point, Mather Point, or Hopi Point for beautiful canyon views.
  • Birdwatch and look for some of the 370 bird species that call the Grand Canyon home.
  • Explore the fascinating history and culture at the Tusayan Ruin and Museum, or sign up for a guided tour.
  • Visit Grand Canyon's Historic Village and take a self-guided audio tour using the official national park app.

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Saguaro National Park

Photo © Kamchatka via Canva.com

Saguaro National Park, located in Tucson, Arizona, is home to the largest cactus in the United States — the giant saguaro. The giant saguaro is native to the Sonoran Desert and only blooms in the spring. Spring is one of the best times to visit Saguaro National Park because the weather is pleasant and the desert wildflowers and other cacti bloom. The park has two districts, the Rincon Mountain District and the Tucson Mountain District, and there are several hiking trails and scenic drives to traverse during your visit.

Where to stay

Saguaro National Park does not have any campgrounds inside the park, but Tucson has plenty of places to camp on the outskirts or within the city limits. Check out Tucson / Lazy Days KOA Resort, Gilbert Ray Campground, or Catalina State Park.

Things to do in spring

  • Take a scenic drive along the Cactus Forest Loop Drive in the Rincon Mountain District or the Bajada Loop Drive in the Tucson Mountain District.
  • Hike one of the park's many trails, such as the short and informative Desert Discovery Nature Trail or the more challenging King Canyon Trail.
  • Look for the diverse flowering plant life along the park's trails.
  • Explore ancient petroglyphs at the Signal Hill Picnic Area.
  • Join a guided program or ranger-led talk to learn more about the park's flora, fauna, and history.

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Big Bend National Park

Photo © by Meagan Butler

Big Bend National Park, located in southwestern Texas along the Rio Grande River, is the place to visit if you're an adventure-seeker or nature lover. This massive 800,000-acre park is home to the Chisos Mountains, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, and a diverse range of plant and animal life. Big Bend bursts into life in springtime with blooming wildflowers, thriving wildlife, and mild daytime temperatures, making it the perfect time to visit this remote national park.

Where to stay

Big Bend National Park has three RV-friendly campgrounds: Rio Grande Village RV Campground, Chisos Basin Campground, and Cottonwood Campground. Rio Grande Village RV Campground is the only campground with full hookups, and all require reservations in advance.

Things to do in the spring

  1. Take a leisurely drive on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
  2. Hike the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Trail, Boquillas Canyon Trail, Lost Mine Trail, Santa Elena Canyon Trail, or the Window View Trail.
  3. Join a ranger-led program or guided tour to learn more about the park's history and ecosystem.
  4. Go bird-watching and spot over 450 species that call Big Bend their home.
  5. Canoe or kayak along the majestic Rio Grande River.

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Gateway Arch National Park

Photo © f11photo via Canva.com

Gateway Arch National Park, located in St. Louis, Missouri, features the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, standing 630 feet (192 meters) tall. This urban park's primary features are the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse. Springtime is an ideal time to visit Gateway Arch National Park, as the weather is pleasant, and the park's surrounding green spaces create the perfect backdrop for taking pictures, exploring, and picnicking.

Where to stay

Although RV camping is not available within Gateway Arch National Park, the St. Louis West/Historic Route 66 KOA and the DraftKings Casino Queen RV Park are nearby options that provide excellent accommodations for RVs.

Things to do in the spring

  1. Take a tram ride to the top of the Gateway Arch and enjoy panoramic views of the Mississippi River and St. Louis skyline.
  2. Explore the Old Courthouse and learn about the historic Dred Scott case and other significant events from St. Louis's past.
  3. Enjoy a walk or bike ride around the park's green space and sculpture gardens, appreciating the blooming trees and flowers.
  4. Tour the museum under the arch and visit the park's official bookstore.
  5. Discover the history and impact of the Mississippi River at the park's Riverboats, where you can take a relaxing river cruise to complete your visit.

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Indiana Dunes National Park

Photo © zrfphoto via Canva.com

Indiana Dunes National Park was officially established in 2019, making it one of the newest national parks in the U.S. The park is located in northwest Indiana along the shores of Lake Michigan. It comes alive in spring with wildflowers, migrating birds, and mild temperatures. Indiana Dunes has over 15,000 acres of diverse landscapes, including sand dunes, forests, wetlands, and prairies. Because of its location, 350 species of birds live or migrate through the park, making it one of the best places to birdwatch.

Where to stay

Indiana Dunes National Park has one RV-friendly campground, Dunewood Campground, open from April to October. The campground has 67 campsites, modern restroom facilities, and a convenient location just a short drive from the beach. Reservations are required. If you want to stay outside of the park, check out Indiana Dunes State Park or Michigan City Campground.

Things to do in the spring

  • Explore the various habitats and landscapes by hiking on trails such as the Cowles Bog Trail or the Glenwood Dunes Trail.
  • Visit West Beach, one of the park's most popular sandy spots, ideal for a scenic walk or beachcombing.
  • Attend the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival in mid-May.
  • Photograph the wildflowers and diverse bird species throughout the park during spring.
  • Participate in ranger-led programs and workshops that cover the park's history, ecology, and wildlife.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Photo © KellyvanDellen via Canva.com

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located in North Carolina and Tennessee, is the most visited national park in the United States. This park has a diverse ecosystem with over 1,500 flowering plants and 100 native tree species that come to life in the spring. Whether you're a nature lover, photographer, or history buff, the park's springtime wildflowers, waterfalls, historic buildings, and mountain views will give you memories to last a lifetime.

Where to stay

Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers several RV-friendly campgrounds located within the park, including Balsam Mountain, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby Deep Creek, Elkmont, Look Rock, and Smokemont campgrounds. If you want to stay outside of the park, try Little Arrow Outdoor Resort, Towsend/Great Smokies KOA Holiday, or Greenbrier Campground.

Things to do in the spring

  • Take a leisurely drive along the scenic Newfound Gap Road, Cades Cove Loop Road, or the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Visit one of the more than 90 historic structures, including mills, churches, schools, and homesteads scattered throughout the park.
  • Hike or drive to one of the 100 waterfalls flowing throughout the park.
  • Spot one of the 1,500 vibrant spring wildflowers and flowering shrubs growing throughout the park.
  • Plan a sunset view from Clingmans Dome or Charlies Bunion, two of the park's most picturesque spots.

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Shenandoah National Park

Photo © timurlaykov via Canva.com

Shenandoah National Park, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, is an enchanting destination for nature enthusiasts during the spring because the park comes alive with wildflowers, foliage, and wildlife. Shenandoah spans 105 miles along the famous Skyline Drive and has over 500 miles of picturesque hiking trails, including some that run along the Appalachian Trail. Spring is also one of the best times to visit the park's waterfalls and panoramic overlooks because of the high water flow and budding trees.

Where to stay

RV campers have multiple options for RV-friendly campgrounds. The two largest campgrounds are Mathews Arm, Big Meadows, Lewis Mountain, and Loft Mountain campgrounds. The campgrounds inside the park have a mix of reservable and first-come, first-served sites. Want to stay outside of the park? Check out top-rated Spacious Skies Shenandoah Views or Harrisonburg/Shenandoah Valley KOA Holiday.

Things to do in the spring

  • Hike to Dark Hollow Falls, Whiteoak Canyon Falls, or Overall Run Falls.
  • Explore the park's wildflower blooms on the Millers Head Trail, Little Stony Man Trail, or Limberlost Trail.
  • Drive along the 105-mile Skyline Drive and stop at the Hazel Mountain and Spitler Knoll overlooks for a scenic view.
  • Learn more about Shenandoah's history, flora, and fauna by participating in ranger-led programs and guided walks offered by the park during the spring season.
  • Spot wildlife that becomes more active in the spring, such as white-tailed deer, black bears, and various bird species.

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Related reads

National Parks Camping Guide
The Best National Parks for RV Camping
Beginner's Guide for Reserving the Right RV Campsite
How to Find an RV Dump Station

Meagan Butler
Meagan Butler

Meagan is a glitter-loving, trailer-towing RV content writer. When she's not camping in her Winnebago Solis, she spoils her dogs, takes landscape photography, and supports the RV community.

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