Best National Parks to Visit on Weekend

Best National Parks to Visit on Weekend

Best National Parks to Visit on Weekend if you want to experience America’s National Parks without the overcrowded crowds that can occur during the summer, there are plenty of other times to visit!

For instance, Joshua Tree National Park a desert park that’s best enjoyed in the fall when temperatures milder. This park is home to unique cacti and towering mountains!

1. Acadia National Park

A premier destination for nature lovers, Acadia National Park is a coastal gem with ocean shoreline, granite peaks, coastal forests and remote islands. Its beautiful carriage roads are the perfect way to explore the scenery by bike, and hiking trails allow visitors to get up close and personal with the flora and fauna.

Best National Parks to Visit on Weekend
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The park is a haven for wildlife, with moose and black bears roaming the woods. Birders can look forward to spotting falcons and Atlantic puffins, while marine wildlife spotted on a whale and seal watching boat tour.

Summer is a popular time to visit, so accommodations should be booked well in advance. Fall and winter outside of peak foliage are quieter times to visit. The town of Bar Harbor is the gateway to the park and offers plenty of accommodation options from boutique hotels to personal B&Bs and woodland camping with Acadia right outside your tent flap.

2. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a California desert destination where visitors fall under its spell. Whether you want to hike among the whimsical Dr Seuss-like Joshua trees, go rock climbing on massive granite boulders, stargaze under the night sky, or spend time exploring Old West-inspired Pioneertown, this National Park provides something for everyone.

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While the main park roads can be driven by any vehicle, it’s best to have a 4WD high-clearance vehicle for the off-roading and other explorations within the park.

It’s also a good idea to download the Best National Parks to Visit on Weekend Service app (available for iOS and Android) before your trip, as cell service limited inside the park.

The best time to visit Joshua Tree is during spring and fall when temperatures are comfortable for hiking, although the park is open year-round. Consider flying into Palm Springs International Airport instead of Los Angeles International, which will save you a 2- to 3-hour drive from the park.

3. Congaree National Park

A southern dream of swaying Spanish Moss, monumental old growth trees and tranquil rivers, Congaree National Park is a hidden gem for outdoor lovers. Hikers marvel at the parks unique bottomland hardwood forests while canoeing and kayaking along the waterways give visitors an entirely new perspective of the landscape.

Congaree also features some of the most impressive champion loblolly pine trees in the region. Visiting during the spring, you can see these stunning giants at their best.

The park’s two designated campgrounds offer overnight guests a quiet, peaceful retreat beneath the towering canopy and a night sky brimming with stars. The Harry Hampton Visitor Center is a great place to grab a main park map and a glossy pamphlet of all the hiking trails in the area.

4. Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon’s layered bands of rock and dramatic views reveal millions of years of geological history. Visitors can explore the canyon by car, hike on the trails, take a mule ride or go rafting down the Colorado River. The park also hosts an annual star party that attracts amateur astronomers.

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There are a variety of viewpoints to visit throughout the park, including Mather Point and Yavapai Observation Station. The North Rim less visited and can only reached by a scenic drive or hiking trails.

The best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park is spring and fall, when temperatures are mild and crowds are sparse. The main visitor center is the perfect place to get oriented with maps, Junior Ranger books for kids and exhibits.

5. Denali National Park

The park’s rugged wilderness features expansive forests and high alpine tundra dotted with wildflowers and home to the tallest peak in North America at 20,310 feet. Visitors can also take part in recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking and camping.

In summer, hikers can join guided tours with guides who know the best spots to look for wildlife from the comfort of a bus. For a more intimate experience, visit the park in shoulder seasons like early May or mid- to late September to avoid crowds and see the landscape in its most pristine form.

Inside the park, two visitor centers—the Denali and Murie Science & Learning Center—offer a variety of informative exhibits. Both offer educational programs throughout the day and reached via shuttle buses during peak season.

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