Canyonlands makes for one of the best national parks in the spring for hiking, thanks to daytime highs under 80 degrees and cool nights. Of the park's three distinct districts, Island in the Sky is the most accessible, with 20 miles of paved highway and a number of trails, including an easy one-mile hike to Grand View Point, where you can glimpse the spectacular confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers. The Needles and Maze districts are harder to reach but worth the effort; the latter requires a serious four-wheel-drive vehicle. About 35 miles north of the Island in the Sky Visitor Center, Moab is a great gateway town with all the fixings: restaurants, lodgings, outfitters of all kinds and even a couple of microbreweries. — Photo by Whit Richardson/Aurora
Believe it or not, while spring is almost at an end, many of the West's national parks remain snow-covered until July. So why not explore some of the Southwest's desert parks before the heat and the crowds arrive? Now is also a good time to head to Yellowstone for an early view of the wildlife. If you plan to visit national parks in the spring, here are seven great ones to explore.