10 Perfect National Parks for an April Adventure

As spring break begins to simmer out, the national parks that we all hold so near and dear to our hearts experience a lull in visitation before the mad dash for summer vacation. While this is a great excuse to hop on the next plane to your favorite park and bask in the glory of an uncrowded trail system, April is not a desirable time for every park. Between ridiculous amounts of snow, muddy trails, and road closures, it’s essential that you do your homework before planning a spring trip. Lucky for you, while some parks are still in hibernation, others are beginning to bloom. April just so happens to be the best time to see these natural wonders in action!

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Lorcel

Yosemite is easily one of the most popular national parks in the country, and it’s not hard to see why. Incredible rock formations, countless waterfalls, towering sequoia trees, and wildlife galore are just a few of its many appeals. But with popularity comes crowds and a whole lot of them! Your best chance to experience a serene Yosemite is in April. While a few of the roads in the high country still haven’t opened for the season, spring has arrived in Yosemite Valley! Those already powerful waterfalls have that much more force thanks to spring snowmelt and a blanket of colorful wildflowers, making the stunning trail system more magical. The lack of crowds is just icing on the cake!

*Reservations are required on weekends starting on April 13th.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Sunset in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sarah Quintans

The underdog of Utah’s “Mighty Five,” Capitol Reef National Park is often forgotten amongst its more popular counterparts like Zion and Arches. But others’ loss is your gain! An already quiet park becomes nearly deserted in April, and you can feel as though you have this collection of giant rock formations all to yourself. Throw in the perfect weather and the park’s historic Gifford Farm opening, and you are bound to fall in love. You can be sitting on a picnic table enjoying a warm spring day while you savor a post-hike pie made fresh with fruit from the Gifford Farm orchard!

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Sunset at Badlands National Park in South Dakota
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Wick Smith

Another underrated park just waiting for its claim to fame is Badlands National Park. This park isn’t a place that people tend to go out of their way for. Still, those who end up here are pleasantly surprised by the otherworldly geology and equally incredible sunrises and sunsets. Plus, spring is a time of wildflowers and babies, and Badlands has no shortage of either! Hike to your heart’s content amongst a sea of wildflowers and keep your eyes open for wildlife sporting their new additions. Whatever you do, though, make sure you stay late to experience the stars!

Everglades National Park, Florida

Big alligator coming out of the water.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Natoe

With summer heat (paired with a mosquito infestation) and a rainy winter, spring is by far the best time to visit Everglades National Park! Whether you hope to experience the diverse ecosystem from the boardwalks, go on a kayaking trip throughout the glades, or climb up to the Shark Valley Observation Tower, April is the perfect time to plan your trip. But the fun doesn’t stop there! With fewer crowds, you’ll have no trouble booking an airboat tour to look for alligators or renting a bike to ride the iconic Snake Bight Trail.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kris Wiktor

Home to the tallest sand dune in North America, a visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park should be on every traveler’s bucket list, especially in April! With winter weather still affecting the surrounding San Juan mountain range, you’ll be greeted by a picturesque scene of towering dunes and snow-capped mountains in the distance. But just because the dunes aren’t covered in snow doesn’t mean it won’t be cold, so be sure to pack layers! Especially if you want to experience a once-in-a-lifetime dune sunrise!

As a bonus, spring weather brings the flow of the seasonal Medano Creek, adding to the unique experience of Great Sand Dunes in April.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Panoramic sunrise at iconic Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Dean Fikar

With three districts varying in views, remoteness, and recreational activities, there is a version of Canyonlands for everyone to enjoy. Head to Island in the Sky to experience a mini Grand Canyon filled with stunning viewpoints, easy hiking trails, and the iconic White Rim 4×4 Road. Drive down to the Needles to hike amongst towering pinnacles and experience the silence of the backcountry. Navigate to the Maze, where the activities are as rugged as the long journey. The high desert experiences extreme weather, with winter snow and scorching summer temperatures. Plan an April trip to pair perfect weather with a perfect park!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains national Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / KLiK Photography

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for being the most visited national park in the country. There is no way to escape the crowds completely, but April is as good as it gets! Wake up early to drive through a magical Cades Cove before the mid-morning traffic for your best chance to see wildlife. Then, wander off on one of the waterfall hikes along Roaring Motor Fork Road to escape the crowds and marvel at the thundering water brought on by spring snowmelt. After a day of exploring, put on your jacket and head up to Clingmans Dome for an epic sunset and a peak at what the Great Smoky Mountains look like during the wintertime. The opportunities are endless!

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Alberta Falls Rocky Mountain National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / B-Dub in KC

The wildcard of the bunch is that Rocky Mountain National Park can be one of the best parks to visit in April—but also one of the worst. The park is filled with countless waterfalls benefiting from spring snowmelt, an abundance of wildlife with their spring babies, and blankets of colorful wildflowers everywhere you look—unless winter refuses to let go. The high country, including Trail Ridge Road, will still be closed for snow no matter what, but lower elevations will usually be blooming with life by early April. With a lack of crowds and plenty of spring scenery to look forward to, Rocky Mountain is worth taking a chance on. Keep an eye on the weather leading up to your trip and pack a jacket just in case, but know that scoring a Rocky Mountain spring in April is one for the books!

Sequoia National Park, California

Sequoia National Park, California
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Benny Marty

Unlike Rocky Mountain National Park, chances are it won’t be springtime during your April visit to Sequoia National Park—but that’s part of its appeal! You will be transported into a winter wonderland as you drive up from the valley of Three Rivers to nearly 7,000 feet at the Giant Forest Museum. Gigantic, red sequoia trees perfectly contrast with the snow that coats them, and well-groomed trails make walking easy amongst the giants regardless of the weather. Some roads may remain closed for winter weather. However, access to iconic features like General Sherman, the world’s most giant tree, is still easily accessible. Plus, with Kings Canyon right down the road, you can hit two national parks in one trip!

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big Bend National Park, near Mexican border, USA at sunset
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Paul Leong

Tucked away in southernmost Texas, a visit to Big Bend doesn’t just happen by accident. So, suppose you are going to plan a trip revolving around this incredible desert oasis. In that case, you might as well visit during the best month! Visitation is low, wildflowers are in bloom, temperatures aren’t too hot or cold, and the Rio Grande is calling! Go on a river trip along the Rio Grande and stop to soak in the hot springs as a cool breeze makes its way through the canyon. Take in the dramatic scenery of Santa Elena Canyon without extreme temperatures limiting your hike. Cruise along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, looking for wildflowers. The list goes on!

Nicole Westcott

Author: Nicole Westcott


Nicole Westcott is a freelance travel writer who loves traveling and hiking in some of America's most beautiful places. Whether it be backpacking through the iconic Grand Teton range or going for a relaxing stroll amongst a fairytale rainforest, I am in my happy place. I enjoy all types of travel and I am always planning my next adventure!

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