All national parks are waiving their entrance fees on Saturday, April 20, for the kickoff to National Park Week.
Many parks will also host special events, including junior ranger programs and Earth Day activities, through Sunday, April 28.
Do you need an excuse to plan a fun trip? Here are 5.
1. It is peak waterfall season at many national park sites.
As temperatures warm in the spring, snow begins to melt, forming the picturesque cascades many of us love to see on our hikes and scenic drives. These 10 parks are great choices for waterfall viewing — and many others are, too.
2. It is an excellent time to see wildflowers.
The desert “superblooms” in California and the Southwest may be largely past their peak, but many warm-weather parks still feature prolific blooms at higher altitudes, and in cooler areas, fields of flowers are just warming up and beginning to open their buds. Learn more about some of the best parks for seeing wildflowers.
3. Every month is Black History Month.
We hear a lot about black history in February and women’s history in March, as well as other kinds of history during designated months, weeks and days. But people make history — and national parks preserve uniquely American stories — all year. Don’t wait 10 months to visit the Frederick Douglass House or 11 months to learn about the “Girls of Atomic City.” Ideas for exploring black history and women’s history (and more) apply to every season, including now.
4. The spring bird migration is underway.
From mid-March to late May, millions of birds are on the move, offering opportunities to see a variety of species in colorful spring mating plumage. Where these birds will be in late April is up to them and can be tricky to predict, but you can read about the 25 parks with the most bird species and follow up with parks near you to get more specific tips.
5. There may well be an amazing park you’ve never been to that’s an easy drive from your front door.
A surprising number of people live near national park sites, and many do not even realize it. (More than half of the U.S. population lives within a day’s drive of Great Smoky Mountains alone.) If you live in a major urban area, odds are even higher. Use this handy map to find some of the places closest to you.
Learn more about National Park Week on the Park Service website, including themes and events happening throughout the week.
For more inspiration planning your next trip, check out our readers’ top bucket-list destinations, learn about a few hidden gems that are farther off the beaten path, and take our quiz on which park you should visit next.