Spring is around the corner, and whether you’re a weary student or just someone who finds winter exhausting, there’s probably only one thing on your mind — spring break. As it turns out, our national parks are some of the best destinations in America, especially if you’re looking for a fun, affordable spring break.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Sleep out under the stars, explore the wide-open places, or simply bask in the warm desert air. Joshua Tree National Park is a perfect place to spend your spring break in a sunny, one-of-a-kind landscape. Be sure to check out some of the ranger-guided hikes that take place throughout spring, including those to the Oasis of Mara and Mastodon Peak.
Shenandoah National Park
Tumbling waterfalls, quiet forests, and mile after mile of rolling Blue Ridge mountains make Shenandoah National Park one of the most photogenic places in the United States, not to mention a great place to relax, take a hike, or pack a picnic. Watch the sun set along Skyline Drive, or bring your tent and spend the night in one of the park’s many campgrounds.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona/Nevada
Lake Mead is a popular spring break destination, with thousands of boaters and partygoers attracted to its clear water, sandy beaches, and steep canyon walls every year. Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers an opportunity to either join the party or seek solitude, exploring the 1.5 million-acre landscape by bike, kayak, on horseback, or on foot.
Saguaro National Park
You haven’t seen a sunset until you watch the sun slowly sink down behind the rocky hills and towering cacti of Saguaro National Park. The park’s namesake saguaro cacti are the largest in the United States, growing up to 60 feet tall. Spring rains bring vibrant wildflower blooms to the desert floor, creating a great opportunity for photographers, but the real winners are the cacti, which soak up enough water to balloon up to 3,000 pounds or more.
Canaveral National Seashore, Florida
Unlike a lot of Florida’s beaches, Canaveral National Seashore stays relatively quiet during spring break season, which is good news for anyone who wants to hit the beach while avoiding the crowds. Camping is permitted, but there are no developed facilities in the park, so be sure to bring everything you need, including food and drinking water.
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina/Virginia
For your spring break road trip, there’s no better route then the Blue Ridge Parkway. Traversing 469 miles of the Appalachian Mountains’ most beautiful terrain, the parkway provides access to dozens of hiking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and historic sites. With trees and wildflowers coming to life all over the mountains, spring is one of the best times to visit.
G0lden Gate National Recreation Area, California
This urban oasis includes several different sites in and around San Francisco. Whether you want to swim at a nearby beach, hike through the redwoods, take a guided tour of Alcatraz Island, or explore the sights and sounds of Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate National Recreation Area provides an idea spring break experience like no other.
National parks provide an enticing alternative to predictable getaways this spring, offering a variety of fun and affordable spring break destinations. Whether you go hiking in the wilderness, swimming on a secluded beach, or exploring in the big city, national parks are where it’s at for spring break.
Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
This 70-mile stretch of untamed barrier island on the Texas Gulf Coast couldn’t be a more perfect spring break setting. Just south of Corpus Christi, Padre Island National Seashore offers unique bird-watching opportunities, beach camping, swimming, fishing, picnicking, and beach driving.