14 of the Best National Parks to Visit in April
November 3, 2023
If you’re looking for Spring Break national park trip ideas, you’re in the right place! The United States has some incredible national parks and springtime is a fantastic time to get out and explore.
April is a great time to visit national parks for several reasons. April brings favorable weather for desert national parks and national parks located in the Southern part of the US. Plus, it’s often a beautiful time of year to see wildflowers. April also tends to be a less crowded time of year than the summer months.
If you’re planning a national park road trip for April, you’ll want to take notes of the parks listed in this guide!
No matter which national park you visit, please make sure to leave no trace! That includes packing out all of your trash, following all park rules, never feeding wildlife and staying on durable surfaces. Please make an effort to respect our public lands.
Average temperatures in April: 77° F / 55° F
Big Bend National Park is a remote and beautiful Texas national park located right on the border of Mexico. The park has incredible hiking trails, and also has opportunities to soak in hot springs, float down the Rio Grande River, relax at a unique glamping accommodation and more.
One bonus for April in Big Bend is that you may also get to see bluebonnets and other wildflowers blooming in the desert. These tend to bloom earlier than the bluebonnets in Texas Hill Country, so I recommend going early in April for your best chance.
Spring in Big Bend can be crowded, but the park doesn’t see as much traffic as many other more popular parks (such as Great Smoky Mountains, Rocky Mountains, Zion, etc). Whether you end up visiting in April or at another time, it is best to avoid the summer months due to extreme heat.
Big Bend is beautiful in the springtime and certainly deserves a spot on your national park bucket list.
Average temperatures in April: 79° / 40°
White Sands National Park in New Mexico experiences warm days and cool nights during the Spring, making it a wonderful time to explore.
The park is known for its white gypsum sand. In fact, it’s the largest gypsum dunefield in the world. During your visit, you can hike among the dunes, sled down the dunes and just enjoy the scenery. Many visitors pack a picnic and hang out in various areas around the park.
April is great for mild weather. However, it tends to be the windiest month of the year. But I wouldn’t let that stop you, because I did not experience high winds during my trip in April.
White Sands is beautiful year round, but is especially great to visit in the Spring.
Combine your visit to the New Mexico and Texas national parks all in one road trip! I have an epic itinerary to help you plan your trip.
Average temperatures in April: 60° / 41°
Guadalupe Mountains is one of the few mountainous US national parks that is unlikely to have any snow in April. This beautiful park is home to the tallest peak in Texas and incredible trails. It’s a fantastic park for those who love hiking.
If you’re a hiker, it’s worth the challenging climb to summit Guadalupe Peak. The trail is a little over 8 miles with almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain, so you’ll want to come prepared with lots of water, snacks and the 10 essentials for hiking. An easier alternative trail is the Devil’s Hall Trail, which leads to a “hallway” framed with towering rock walls.
April is a great time to visit this park because it’s not too hot and not too cold. You could experience high winds, but it’s not as likely as in the winter.
Average temperatures in April: 73° / 48°
Carlsbad Caverns is most famous for their intricate cave system, and the cave keeps a consistent temperature year round. April is a great time of year because you can also visit other nearby parks such as Guadalupe Mountains and White Sands.
Don’t miss the self-guided cave tour of the Big Room, which is the largest cave chamber in North America. You can also hike in the Natural Entrance, which involves a series of switchbacks. Just keep in mind that you need to reserve a timed entry ticket in advance.
In addition to visiting the main cave, you can also hike on above ground trails or join a ranger-led tour of the King’s Palace.
Carlsbad Caverns is sure to amaze any visitor and certainly deserves a spot on your USA bucket list.
Average temperatures in April: 74° / 68°
Biscayne is a Florida national park where almost all of the activities are water-based. It’s a great place to snorkel, take a boat tour, paddle board among mangroves and more.
April is the perfect time to visit because it’s not nearly as hot as the summer months, but it’s still warm enough to enjoy activities such as snorkeling.
I recommend booking a tour ahead of time with the Biscayne National Park Institute. They are a non-profit that offers a variety of tours for families and adventurers alike. I really enjoyed the snorkel and paddle eco adventure tour, which included snorkeling, a stop on Boca Chita Island and paddle boarding.
Be sure to include Biscayne National Park if you’re headed on a Florida national parks road trip!
Average temperatures in April: 83° / 65°
Everglades National Park offers a unique landscape full of wildlife and various ecosystems. There is a distinct wet vs dry season in this park, and most activities are better experienced during the dry season. The dry season extends from November to April. While April can be a bit hot, it’s still mild enough to enjoy the park.
A few of the best things to do in the Everglades include renting bikes to visit the Shark Valley Visitor Center, taking a guided kayaking tour, walking the Anhinga Trail and joining a ranger-led wet walk. During a wet walk, you actually get to walk out into the water and see the Everglades from a new perspective.
This is a park that I feel is often overlooked, but one that I really love! I highly recommend spending a few days and immersing yourself with a kayaking tour or a wet walk, or both!
Average temperatures in April: 83° / 71°
Dry Tortugas is the third Florida national park that is also great to visit in April. This park is uniquely located 70 miles off the coast of Key West and can only be reached via boat or seaplane.
Similar to the other Florida parks, April can be a little hot but not unbearable. It also means that it’s a great time to enjoy snorkeling or swimming when you arrive.
In order to visit Dry Tortugas in the most affordable way (by taking the ferry), you’ll need to reserve your tickets a few months in advance. The boat almost always sells out early. You can also book a seaplane, but that option is a lot more expensive.
This bucket list park is worth the prior planning, as you’ll get to explore a remote island with a 19th century fort when you arrive. It’s a stunning and unique place that is worth the trip.
Dry Tortugas is a great park to include in a Florida Keys road trip! Check out my Florida Keys itinerary to plan your trip.
Average temperatures in April: 90° / 62°
Death Valley is infamous for being the hottest, lowest and driest place in North America. The park is full of unique and colorful landscapes, such as sand dunes, salt flats, slot canyons and more.
Death Valley should be avoided during the summer due to dangerous heat levels. April can still be quite hot, but the temperatures should still be pleasant enough to enjoy. If you do visit on a hot day, hike in the mornings and avoid being out too long in the middle of the day.
April is also a great time to witness wildflowers in bloom inside the park! Just keep in mind that April can be busy, as it’s one of the most popular times to visit.
A few of the must-sees in Death Valley include sunrise at Zabriskie Point, Artist’s Drive and Badwater Basin (the lowest place in North America!).
This unique national park makes a great day trip from Las Vegas, but I recommend staying at least one night to thoroughly experience the top sights in the park.
Average temperatures in April: 78° F / 47° F
Joshua Tree is a desert national park known for its numerous joshua trees and unique rock formations. You will definitely want to avoid this park in the summer due to high heat, so spring is a great time to make the trip.
Plus, you may get to see wildflowers in bloom in April! Just keep in mind that it is a busy time of year, so plan to arrive early at the popular sights.
During your visit, don’t miss sunrise or sunset at Cholla Cactus Garden, Hidden Valley and the Hall of Horrors trail. This park can make a great day trip from Los Angeles, but I recommend spending at least one night in order to thoroughly explore the park. It’s also worth spending some time in the city of Palm Springs nearby!
Average temperatures in April: 69° / 40°
April is a great time to visit Arches National Park because you can enjoy mild temperatures. While April begins the busy season in the park, it will likely still be less crowded than it would be in the popular summer months.
Timed reservations are required to enter the park between April 1 and October 31. These tend to be easy to get and additional slots are released the night before. If you’re unable to get one, you can still enter the park before 7AM or after 4PM.
A few of the best things to do in Arches include hiking to Delicate Arch, hiking to Landscape Arch and reserving a permit for a journey in the Fiery Furnace. Whether you enjoy hiking or plan to stick to the scenic drive, it’s a neat park that is full of beauty.
Average temperatures in April: 67° / 37°
Located not far from Arches, April also brings great weather in Canyonlands National Park! Canyonlands has several units and they are located hours apart. The most popular one to visit is the Islands of the Sky district, which has several viewpoints and short trails. One short hike you shouldn’t miss is Mesa Arch.
If you have more time, it’s also worth visiting some of the other areas, such as The Needles District.
Whether you take in the views from Islands of the Sky or explore deeper in the other districts, Canyonlands needs to be on your Moab itinerary!
Average temperatures in April: 64° / 37°
Capitol Reef is one of the most underrated Utah national parks, in my opinion at least. April brings mild temperatures and it will likely be not too hot and not too cold.
While the park seems small at first, there is so much more to explore if you have a 4x4 vehicle. April brings mild temperatures and it will likely be not too hot and not too cold. If you’re visiting in a regular car, there is still plenty to see. Enjoy hiking to Cassidy Arch, driving the Scenic Drive and make sure to enjoy pie from the Gifford Homestead.
However, if you do a high clearance, 4x4 vehicle (and do your research) you could spend a day or more driving through Cathedral Valley or taking the “Loop-the-Fold” driving tour.
Capitol Reef is one of those parks that offers more than meets the eye.
Average temperatures in April: 64° / 32°
April is the perfect time to visit the Grand Canyon South Rim because the weather will be mild. You’re unlikely to experience a snow storm (though it is possible), but you also won’t have the intense heat that summer brings.
It’s a great time to enjoy hiking and backpacking inside the park. You can hike along the rim (or take the shuttle) to see various viewpoints, such as Mather Point and Hopi Point. One beautiful moderate trail to consider is the 1.8 mile trek to Ooh Aah Point. You can also hike to the bottom of the canyon, but make sure you’re prepared to hike back up.
While April is great for the South Rim, it’s not necessarily ideal for the North Rim. The North Rim Visitor Center closes in the winter and average temperatures tend to be at least 10 degrees colder in April. You’re best to save the North Rim for a visit during the summer.
Average temperatures in April: 63° / 54°
The California Channel Islands can be visited year round, but I had a fantastic experience visiting in April. Temperatures are mild, making it warm enough to enjoy a kayaking tour but not too hot to comfortably camp overnight.
Spring is also a great time to see island fox pups, birds migrating and a few lingering gray whales. Plus, you can see dolphins year round (I saw 100’s during my ferry rides!).
I was originally meant to visit the Channel Islands in January, but my ferry was canceled due to weather. I was able to return in April and had an incredible time!
There are 5 different islands you can visit in this park, but Santa Cruz Island is one of the most popular. I highly recommend taking a sea kayaking tour from Santa Cruz, which involves kayaking into several sea caves! The hike to Potato Harbor also provides stunning views.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to take a ferry to experience the islands and you’ll want to reserve in advance.
Please make sure to leave no trace when visiting our national parks! That includes packing out all of your trash, planning ahead, not approaching wildlife, following rules for campfires, traveling on durable surfaces and respecting those around you. To learn more about all of the Leave no Trace principles, visit lnt.org.
If you’re visiting multiple national parks over the course of a year, the America the Beautiful Pass will save you money. The pass includes admission to most national park sites over the course of a year for $80. You can order it online or buy it at any park.
GuideAlong is a fantastic audio tour app that offers tours in Joshua Tree, all of the Utah National Parks and in many more places. Download the tour ahead of time and learn about the park as you drive through.
Ranger-led talks and walks are a great way to learn about the parks as well (and they’re typically free). Check out the park calendar for the events occurring during your visit.
Be ready for a change in weather conditions. This is especially true for mountainous areas during shoulder seasons. Always check the forecast, bring layers and know the possible dangers. (For example, rain is very dangerous on a slot canyon hike).
Arrive early and stay late to experience the most popular attractions without the crowds!
If you’re planning to visit national parks during Spring Break, there are so many great ones to choose from! Others that didn’t quite make my list, but still would be nice in April include the Great Smoky Mountains, Indiana Dunes, Cuyahoga Valley, Congaree, Zion and Bryce Canyon. Whether you’re interested in a trip to the desert or the ocean, there is a US national park for you.
For more US National Park Guides, check out these blogs:
- How to Avoid Crowds in National Parks
- The Ultimate Utah Mighty Five Road Trip
- The Best Things To Do in Yellowstone
- How to Spend Two Days in Rocky Mountain National Park
- How to Spend Three Days in the Everglades
- The Perfect Joshua Tree Itinerary
- How to Spend Two Days in Zion
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