11 Best National Parks to Visit in April » Local Adventurer

Looking for the best national parks to visit in April? These are the best parks to go this month!

Spring has sprung, so pack your backpacks and camping gear and get outside! April is the perfect time to visit national parks for mild weather and to witness the vibrant wildflower displays. Plus, during mating season, you’ll typically find more active wildlife.

Below are some of the best national parks to visit in April to make the most of your spring vacation.


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Last Updated: March 3, 2024

Before we get into it, we want to remind everyone to explore the parks responsibly using the 7 Leave No Trace Principles. Have a plan, stay on established trails, carry out anything you carry in, leave what you find, minimize campfire impact, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others.

About the National Park by Month Series

To put together this list, we’ve combined our personal experiences and tips we gathered from locals and cross-referenced them with the weather, accessibility, local forums, seasonal attractions like fall foliage or wildflowers, and special events happening in the area. We also considered any unique adventures only offered at certain times of the year to find the most optimal months to visit each National Park. Phew! That was a lot!

It took me a whole week of research, but since I’m a maximizer, it was completely worth having a year-round calendar of adventures (publishing that soon!). Also, check out our complete list of all the national parks and all national park units that include soon-to-be national parks.

We also chose not to include the hardest-to-access national parks in Alaska and the ones in U.S. territories in this series.

National Parks By Month: Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec | Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul

Is April a Good Time to Visit National Parks?

Although it depends on individual national parks and the region, in general, April is a great time to visit the parks. The weather is mild, wildflowers are blooming, and it’s not peak tourist season.

Plan on visiting more than two national parks this year? Pick up an America the Beautiful annual pass to save money (entrance fees to each park are, on average, $30-35 per vehicle). Plus, you are helping support the Parks that always need funding.

11 Best National Parks to Visit in April

1. Arches National Park, Utah →

38.6165892,-109.6220349, map

Average Temperatures: 68° F / 39° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:40 AM / 8:05 PM

Why Visit: The weather is perfect for hiking to the beautiful red rock formations at Arches National Parks. Spring blooms will add an extra pop of color.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drive, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Canyoneering, Photography

Don’t Miss:

Local Tip: They have a Ranger-Led Fiery Furnace Hike that fills up quickly. Be sure to sign up early!

See More: The Ultimate Guide to Arches National Park

2. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado →

10346 CO-347, Montrose, CO 81401, map

Average Temperatures: 57°F / 29° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:45 AM / 7:50 PM

Why Visit: The weather is excellent for hiking the park’s steep trails and taking in the breathtaking views of the canyon’s sheer rock walls. The wildlife starts coming out of hibernation so that you might spot a curious marmot or a soaring eagle.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drive, Viewpoints, Hiking, Photography

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – South Rim Road, Warner Point Nature Trail, East Portal Road
  • Wildlife – Coyotes, Elk, Eagles, Mule Deer, Bears
  • How many days do you need? 1-2

Local Tip: You need to plan if you want to explore the park beyond overlooks and a Visitor Center. There are no maintained or marked trails into the canyon. Plus, access to the river is on the other side of the canyon.

See More: 9 Amazing Things to Do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

3. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

43.6835523,-102.6622546, map

Average Temperatures: 57°F / 31°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:45 AM / 7:50 PM

Why Visit: The weather is comfortable for exploring the badlands. Wildlife come out to play so that you might spot a bison or a pronghorn antelope.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drives, Wildlife Viewing, Stargazing, Hiking

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Fossil Preparation Lab, Sage Creek Rim Road, Sheep Mountain Table, Badlands Loop Road
  • Wildlife – Bison, Prairie Dogs, Bighorn Sheep, Black-Footed Ferret
  • How many days do you need? 1-3

Pro Tip: Most of the highlights can be seen from the scenic drives, but hop out for some easy hikes (most are 1.25 miles or less).

See More: Recap of Our Endless Caravan

4. Congaree National Park, South Carolina →

100 National Park Rd, Hopkins, SC 29061, map

Average Temperatures: 78° F / 51° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:50 AM / 7:50 PM

Why Visit: April is the perfect time to discover the hidden gem that is Congaree National Park. With the warming weather, you can explore the park’s lush forests and wetlands without getting too hot and sticky. And with the park’s wildlife starting to stir, you might spot a playful otter or a white-tailed deer.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Canoeing, Kayaking, Fishing, Camping

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Boardwalk Loop Trail, Canoe or Kayak, Bluff Trail
  • Wildlife – Bobcats, Deer, Feral Pigs, Coyotes, Armadillos, Otters
  • How many days do you need? 1-2

Local Tip: If you’re not comfortable paddling down a river yourself, you can sign up for ranger-led paddles.

See More: 11 Unique Things to Do in Congaree National Park

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina & Tennessee

2 Everett St, Bryson City, NC 28713, map

Average Temperatures: 66°F / 40°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 7:05 AM / 8:00 PM

Why Visit: Great Smoky Mountains National Park is alive with blooming flowers and the sounds of spring. Stroll through the park’s many trails or pack a picnic to sit quietly and observe the wildlife. If you’re lucky, you may see some bears.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Camping, Scenic Drives, Biking, Wildflowers

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Charlies Bunion, Alum Cave Bluffs, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Wildlife – Elk, Black Bears, Bobcats, Whitetail Deer, Coyote, Pygmy Shrew
  • How many days do you need? 2-4

Local Tip: To avoid crowds, get out of the car and take longer hikes. You’ll still see people, but they will be much fewer than easy to get to spots.

See More: 11 Can’t Miss Things to Do in Pigeon Forge TN

smoky mountains wildflowersPin

6. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona →

36.0591278,-112.1114996, map

Average Temperatures: 67°F / 37°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 5:40 AM / 7:00 PM

Why Visit: April is the perfect time to explore the grandeur of Grand Canyon National Park. The weather is mild and sunny, making it the ideal time to hike the park’s trails and take in the breathtaking views of the canyon’s rugged cliffs and dizzying depths. The park’s wildlife starts to come out of hiding, and you might spot elk or a soaring peregrine falcon.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Wildlife Viewing, Scenic Drives, Stargazing

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Trail Ridge Road, Sprague Lake, Bear Lake Road, Alpine Ridge Trail, Emerald Lakes, Alberta Falls
  • Wildlife – Desert Bighorn Sheep, Mule Deer, Mountain Lions, Coyotes, Gray Fox
  • How many days do you need? 1-3

Local Tip: Grand Canyon West is not part of Grand Canyon National Park but on Hualapai Tribal land.

See More: 17 Breathtaking Things to Do at the Grand Canyon National Park

7. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

400 Pine Canyon Dr, Salt Flat, TX 79847, map

Average Temperatures: 71°F / 42°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 7:05 AM / 7:50 PM

Why Visit: April is the perfect time to saddle up and head to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The weather is just suitable for exploring the park’s mountains and canyons. And with the wildflowers starting to bloom, the park is like a patchwork quilt of vibrant colors. Keep your eyes peeled for black bears and roadrunners.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Backpacking, Scenic Drives, Horseback Riding

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Smith Spring Trail, Devil’s Hall Trail, McKittrick Canyon, Guadalupe Peak Trail
  • Wildlife – Coyote, Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Badger, Texas Banded Gecko, Bats, Javelinas, Jackrabbits, Rattlesnake
  • How many days do you need? 1-3

Local Tip: Be prepared to hike; otherwise, you’ll miss out on the best spots in the park.

See More: 11 Best Things to Do in El Paso Texas

8. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

1 Park Rd, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ 86028, map

Average Temperatures: 65° F / 35° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:30 AM / 7:00 PM

Why Visit: April is the best to travel back in time and explore the wonders of Petrified Forest National Park. The weather is nice and mild for hiking and marveling at the ancient trees that have turned to stone millions of years ago. Depending on the snow and rain it receives during the “monsoon” season, you may see wildflowers blooming in April and May.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drive, Hiking, Backpacking, Bicycling, Horseback Riding

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Blue Mesa Trail, Red Basin, Rim Trail, Painted Desert Overlooks, Newspaper Rock
  • Wildlife – Pronghorn, Coyote, Kit Fox, Bobcat Mule Deer, Badger
  • How many days do you need? 1-2

Local Tip: Explore the park from East to West, and you can see everything without backtracking.

petrified forest painted desertPin

9. Pinnacles National Park, California

5000 CA-146, Paicines, CA 95043, map

Average Temperatures: 72°F / 46°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:40 AM / 7:45 PM

Why Visit: The weather is mild and sunny, making it the perfect time to hike and marvel at the towering spires of volcanic rock. You’ll find peak wildflower blooms between March to May.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Climbing, Wildlife Viewing, Camping

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Talus Cave, Bear Guild, Balconies Cave, Rim Trail Loop, High Peaks Loop
  • Wildlife – Canyon Bats, Mountain Lions, Condors, Feral Pig, Bobcat, Gray Fox, Ringtail
  • How many days do you need? 1-3

Local Tip: Pinnacles National Park has two separate entrances far from each other. Plan accordingly based on what you want to see!

See More: 15 Least Visited National Parks You Need to Explore Next

Pinnacles National Park TrailsPin

10. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming →

44.4279929,-110.6243323, map

Average Temperatures: 43°F / 22°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:30 AM / 8:00 PM

Why Visit: Mid-April to early June is typically the best time to see bears. The crisp and clear weather makes it the perfect time to explore the park’s geysers, hot springs, and bubbling mud pots. Keep your camera handy, because you never know what wildlife you’ll see around the corner.

Best For / Top Activities: Hikers / Backpackers, Wildlife Viewing, Scenic Drives

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Wildlife – Bison, Grizzly Bears, Wolves, Mule Deer, Elk, Bighorn Sheep
  • How many days do you need? 2-4

Local Tip: The park is huge (3472 square miles, larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined)! Plan your days to explore specific areas, so you don’t spend most of your time driving back and forth.

See More: Best Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park

11. Zion National Park, Utah →

1 Zion Park Blvd, Springdale, UT 84767, map

Average Temperatures: 73°F / 42°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:40 AM / 7:45 PM

Why Visit: April is the perfect time to visit one of the most beloved national parks in the country. The weather is mild and sunny, making it the ideal time to hike Zion’s trails and marvel at the towering cliffs. Although it depends on how long the snow lasts, the park’s wildflowers typically bloom in late April to early May.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Camping, Backpacking, Stargazing

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Angels Landing, Canyon Overlook Trail, Emerald Pools, Observation Point, Riverside Walk
  • Wildlife – Ringtail, Mountain Lion, American Pika, Desert Cottontail, Coyote, Kit Fox, Bighorn Sheep, Elk
  • How many days do you need? 1-3

Local Tip: The Narrows will be cold to hike, but you can always rent dry suits in town if you still want to check it out.

See More: 15 Incredible Things to Do in Zion National Park

Map of the Best National Parks to Visit in April

Want to See More NATIONAL Parks to Visit in April?

If you’re a national park lover like us and have done many of the above, here are some more ideas for National Parks to visit in April. While April may not be the top two months of the year to visit these parks, it’s still a decent time.

Tips for Visiting the Best National Parks in April

  • Explore the parks responsibly using Leave No Trace principles. Stay on established trails, carry out anything you carry in, etc.
  • Pick up the National Park Annual Pass if you plan on visiting multiple parks within the year. It saves you a lot of money.
  • Want to see spring blooms? Climate change and droughts this year will make timing more unpredictable. We typically go onto the geotag on Instagram or Tiktok and scroll through all the recent posts to see what it’s looking like. Remember that people post older content, so I like to look at the grid or ones that non-influencers are posting. You can also leave a comment and ask when they went.
  • It’s always a good idea to pack layers wherever you go. Some parks are warm during the day and cool at night. Pay attention to the elevation change too! Some parks will be warm on the valley floor and cold at higher elevations.
  • You may need a reservation. See national parks that now require reservations here.
  • Always check the park’s site and Visitors Center for the most up-to-date information on closures.
  • Remember that wildlife is wild. Be familiar with how to interact with animals and how much space you should have between you and them.
Turret Arch Arches National ParkPin

What to Pack

How you will pack depends on which park you visit and the activities you plan, but here is a general guide on items we always try to pack.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best national park to visit in early April?

It depends on your preferences, but many national parks begin to thaw and bloom in early April. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Arches National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park are popular choices for this time of year.

Where in USA is warm in April? Where is the warmest place to vacation in April?

In April, the southern states generally experience warmer temperatures. Places like Florida (especially Miami and the Keys), Southern California (including Los Angeles and San Diego), and Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson) are known for being warm in April.

Which beach is best in April?

Southern beaches like those in Miami, Florida, or San Diego, California, are ideal in April due to their warmer temperatures.

Which state has the best weather in April?

States in the southern part of the country, such as California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas, generally have pleasant weather in April.

Is Shenandoah National Park open in April? Is April a good time to visit Shenandoah National Park?

Yes, Shenandoah National Park is open in April. It can be an excellent time to visit as spring starts, bringing blooming wildflowers and greenery to the landscape.

Is early April a good time to visit Olympic National Park?

Early April may still have winter conditions in Olympic National Park, especially at higher elevations. It’s advisable to check current conditions and road closures before planning a visit.

Is April too early to visit Yellowstone?

Due to lingering winter conditions, April is generally considered too early to visit Yellowstone. Many roads and facilities may remain closed, and wildlife might not be as active as in the warmer months. But as the month goes on, the wildlife comes out of hibernation, and the crowds haven’t hit their peak.

Is Yosemite worth it in April?

Yosemite in April can be beautiful with waterfalls flowing, but higher elevations may still have snow. Some trails and areas might be inaccessible, so checking the conditions before planning your visit is essential.

Can you visit Grand Canyon in April?

Yes, you can visit the Grand Canyon in April. The weather is usually pleasant, making it a good time for hiking and enjoying the breathtaking views.

When should I go to Death Valley?

It’s best to visit Death Valley in the cooler months, typically from late fall to early spring. Avoid the peak summer months when temperatures can be extremely high. We went on our first visit in April, and it was way too hot. None of us wanted to get out of the car

When is the best month to travel for cheap?

January is often considered one of the best months to travel cheaply, as it’s after the holiday season, and many destinations offer lower prices.

Can you think of others that belong on this list of best National Parks to visit in April? Which ones are we missing?

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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust

Esther and JacobPin

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

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