The Southwest parks' best season

by , SmarterTravel Staff - March 29, 2007 See all photo galleries
Canyonlands National Park, Utah


Spring may be a cool, wet, muddy season in many parts of the U.S., but it's the perfect time to visit the desert parks of the U.S. Southwest. Early in the year, many parks famed for their hellish summer heat are downright temperate, even a bit chilly in the evenings. In the winter, frost and snow are common. Overall, spring is a much more pleasant (and safer) time for both sightseeing and active trips. Plus, some parks such as the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce receive fewer visitors in the spring than summer, making it easier to get around and make bookings.

Here are nine national parks and one national monument worth touring this spring, starting with Canyonlands.

Named after an ancient kingdom in the biblical Holy Land, Moab, Utah, is something of a "Promised Land" for mountain bikers, and the 100-mile-long White Rim Trail in nearby Canyonlands National Park is the track that red-rock worshipers seek. The National Park Service only permits a handful of tour operators to run trips on the route, and the locally based Magpie Adventures offers the most affordable. Rates for a four-day White Rim trip are $735 per person.

(Photo: Index Open)

Read comments or add your own insight!