Still trying to figure out what to do for Spring Break? How about making the first family vacation of the year a road trip to a national park? With 398 areas and 84 million acres operated by the National Park Service, there's a fantastic selection that are ideal for spring. Learn which parks "pop" in the springtime and start planning now!
Joshua Tree National Park: (See photo1)
The stark, desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park belies the fact that this park--filled with history and amazing geology—hides its dormant flora until spring. During late February, the trees that gave the park its name bloom with large, creamy flowers. Wildflowers soon follow, popping up along all elevations; the brilliant cactus flowers burst forth in April-May. Spring also happens to be the best season for bird watching in Joshua Tree. Many migratory and early nesting species are attracted to the warm, desert climate, where average spring temperatures may climb to 85 degrees.
Redwood National Park: (See photo 2)
Take the beauty of the country's tallest trees, add a forest of wildflowers, sprinkle with sightings of whales and other wildlife, and you must be in Redwood National Park! Majestic redwoods tower over the forest floor aglow with bright violets, trillium, and rhododendron. Kids will love finding banana slugs - harmless and a little gross, they fascinate with their chubby, yellow bodies. Be sure to bring binoculars and step out of the forest for a special treat – whale watching! In early spring, migrating gray whales can be spotted along the coast.
Carlsbad Caverns: (See photo 3)
Uncertain about Spring's unpredictable weather? Visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park for a unique and exciting adventure which explores a world over 700 feet below the earth's surface. Famous for protecting the 3rd and 7th largest cave chambers in the world, Carlsbad Caverns holds a total of 116 caves, giant rooms of limestone, stalagmites, stalactites, cave pearls, and underground lakes. Visitors can experience famous cave rooms full of fissures, tunnels, and even some unexplained noises. Seventeen species of bats live in the park and many become active in spring, including Mexican Free-tailed Bats. Emerging from caves in groups, they rise vertically, then execute a counter-clockwise formation which continues for up to three hours—an amazing sight!
Saguaro National Park: (See photo 4)
Close your eyes and envision yourself in the Southwest as the tall cacti with outstretched arms are silhouetted against the richly colored, red-orange sky. Although the cactus that gives this Saguaro National Park its name has long been recognized as a symbol of American West, these giant plants are actually only found in a small portion of the United States. More than massive cacti, they also provide shelter and reserves of water for much of the park's wildlife.
Be sure to….
Fish –In most National Parks where fishing is permitted, a state license is required to fish within the park. Fishing rules vary by location—check your destination online before you go.
Bike – Bicycling is a fun way for the entire family to exercise together. Parks offer miles of paved and off-road trails perfect for all ages.
Camp – Pack the tent and sleeping bags and build cherished memories while gazing at the stars. Camping encourages the entire family to reconnect and enjoy quality time.
Hike – Hit the trails with the kids and discover the wonders of nature through their eyes.
For more information about our National Parks, visit http://www.nps.gov/ .