A National Park for All Seasons
1) Most Popular:
Utah's Zion National Park is almost as trammeled as Great Smoky. But the advantage of Zion is that its famous rock formations don't change from season to season, and the dry climate remains throughout the yearample justification for its status as a perennial favorite. While the visitor numbers tell a tale of spring popularity, fall is a worthy alternative to shake the crowdsand the autumn colors certainly compete with the snowmelt waterfalls of spring.
2) Hidden Gem:
Wind Cave National Park throws you back about 100 years. The South Dakota Black Hills are chock-full of bison, elk, pronghorn, and all the other critters that crowd the park's more people-congested neighbor, Yellowstone. One of the longest and most complex caves in the world, Wind Cave is protected by the western Rockies and northern Blackhills, so it stays warmer and drier in the spring. And when those 30 miles of hiking trails get old, you've got plenty nearby attractions to choose from: Black Hills National Forest, Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Jewel Cave National Monument, and Custer State Park, to name but a few.
3) On the Cusp:
Michigan gets its fair share of heat for car-spewing Detroit, but the stunning national park in the state's northern reaches doesn't get nearly the pressand thank the outdoor gods for that. Isle Royale is the least visited park in the contiguous U.S.; the 200-island archipelago can only be reached by ferry or seaplane, thereby discouraging most day-trippers. For the best way to see the stunning Lake Superior scenery, grab hold of an oar. Late spring sees considerably less rain than the summer months, and all that empty scenery makes carrying that extra sweater worth its bulk.
4) Be Warned:
Washington State's North Cascades National Park is wildly beautiful and gets next to no visitors, so there's actually no need to avoid its prime summer season. Spring, however, remains incredibly cold with heavy storms and wind, and it's the heaviest season for avalanches. Wait a few monthsyou'll still find the solitary landscapebut instead of the chills and avalanches, you'll be greeted by cascading waterfalls, alpine meadows, and 504,000 accessible acres.
5) Seasonal Cure:
With spring comes the warm weather and a reason to get outdoorsunless you happen to be the victim of seasonal allergies. But, rest assured, the perfect spring medicine for those unfortunate, sniveling souls is Arches National Park. Utah's arid desert climate will dry you up in no time, we promise. Check out this enormous geological playground in March and Aprilthese two months see far fewer visitors than May through September.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication