It may still be ski season in much of the north, but spring is warming up the south and southwest. Now, and in the coming months, is prime time to explore these sites before the heat of summer moves in and makes them less bearable. This spring ditch the crowded beaches and spend your break from school or your adult spring break backpacking, hiking, climbing and camping in sunny beautiful backcountry. The warmth is already being enjoyed in the southern sections and gas prices are still low enough to take a road trip to one or a few of these awesome spots.
Everglades National Park:
The average temps in the Everglades this time of year range in the high seventies making it an ideal escape from the average chill of early spring. This area in the lower tip of Florida offers a variety of adventures from hiking and backpacking through sawgrass prairie, camping in it’s numerous backcountry campgrounds, to kayaking and canoeing around its vast wetland. The Everglades is a notable breeding ground for numerous waterfowl and home to many other species of wildlife and tropical vegetation unique to this area.
Big Bend National Park:
Big Bend is a backcountry athletes delight; it offers over one hundred and fifty miles of wilderness trails leading to spectacular views only found in southern Texas. You will certainly want to keep hydrated here though; the summer heat is year round and water often comes in short supply. This area, despite its often shortage of water, is always in full supply of beautiful desert vistas to include canyons, rock formations, mountains, the Rio Grande, and diverse desert life. If you plan to visit Big Bend be sure to do your research and check with rangers about special regulations, because it can be just as hazardous as it is beautiful.
Grand Canyon National Park:
Spring is one of the best times to visit the Grand Canyon, which also makes it one of the most popular times. The summer months bring treacherous heat, especially deep within the canyon, however, spring temps are much milder making it far more enjoyable. There’s a reason it’s called the Grand Canyon-- it’s huge. From the surface (averaging at seven thousand feet in altitude at the southern rim) down to the Colorado River is a mile deep and can take five hours to drive from the south rim to the north rim of the park; this also means there’s plenty of backcountry wilderness to explore. There are numerous trails ranging from day hikes to multi day hikes, both leading to one of a kind and awe-inspiring vistas. Although the Grand Canyon appears barren it is home to many creatures like the California condor whose wingspan reaches up to nine feet!
Joshua Tree National Park:
This park is a bouldering paradise, it offers countless technical climbs for all skill levels and provides an alluring backdrop. It also offers trails that allow for short scenic travels through the park and long distance trails that journey deep into the parks wilderness. There are all sorts of adventures to be had sights to see in this warm southern California desert ecosystem teeming with life of all forms. It may not seem like a typical place for wildflowers, but this time of year there are countless wildflowers in bloom so much so that park rangers post reports of where to view blossoms. This time of year is also when the Joshua Trees themselves bloom with bundles of white-green flowers.
The Moab area averages a balmy high eighties during the spring and provides every outdoor venture under the sun, literally. There are countless trails for hiking and backpacking in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks as well as the several thousand acres of national forests and BLM land scattered throughout. The Moab area is an international destination for climbers of all techniques and genres with its canyons, rock faces, and boulders. The Colorado River winds through here allowing for kayaking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting. It is also known for is superb mountain biking trails that surge through its unique terrain. This area truly is a paradise for the backcountry athlete.
Zion National Park:
Positioned only a day’s drive from Moab and even less from the Grand Canyon is Zion National Park, a hiking, backpacking, and climbing Valhalla. Zion is known for its high wall climbs and unique canyon trails through spots like the Subway and the Narrows. It also offers vast high overlooks of its colorfully layered rocky topography. With every step through this park the vistas change and are more beautiful than the last. Views of the high walls and spires are enjoyed form the canyon floor and deep caverns filled with contrasting vegetation and winding rivers are enjoyed form the highlands. Zion is probably better to be visited in later spring due to its possible icy conditions in some areas during early spring, but with the right preparation can be traversed, explored, and relished year round.
Don’t wait for summer, pack your gear, hit the road, get your backcountry permit, hit the trail, and enjoy all that spring has to offer in these alluring and exciting wildernesses.