Blooming flowers routinely garner the nature headlines during spring. Although beautiful and a symbol of the season, we want to shine the spotlight elsewhere. The United States has five national parks with a birthday in April or May that deserve our attention. Admittedly, it is an odd mix of parks. One is a legend, two you may not know exist, another hides underground, and a fallen volcano formed the last. Let’s recognize our national parks with a birthday in April or May.
Isle Royale National Park
- Established April 3, 1940
One of America’s least visited national parks turns 83 this month. You may be unfamiliar with Isle Royale National Park. Who? Exactly.
Do not feel bad if you have never heard of this park. It is a cluster of remote islands nestled between the borders of Michigan and Canada. According to National Park Service (NPS) statistics, the park received approximately 25,000 visitors in 2022, making it our fifth least visited park last year.
What makes Isle Royale unique? The remote park offers a rugged wilderness of forests, lakes, and waterways. You will not find cars here as you can only reach the islands by boat or seaplane. Beyond the beautiful landscapes, you may discover moose and wolves in the wild.
The park is closed each year from November 1 to April 15. Ferry and seaplane services are generally available from mid-May to September. Visiting Isle Royale requires planning, but the remote wilderness, natural beauty, and unique wildlife make the extra effort worth it.
The park offers adventures for backpackers, campers, day hikers, boaters, divers, and paddlers. Leave your car on the mainland and plan a memorable wilderness adventure.
Voyageurs National Park
- Established April 8, 1975
NPS statistics show Voyageurs National Park was our 14th least visited park last year. No wonder it has little name recognition amongst the American public.
The beautiful park in northern Minnesota near the Canadian border turns 48 this April. It received its name from the French-Canadian fur traders that frequently passed through the area, expanding trade and opening the northwestern United States.
Voyageurs National Park showcases transitions between land and water ecosystems, featuring rugged rock ridges, cliffs, lush forests, boggy wetlands, tranquil lakes, and gurgling streams. Abounding with beautiful scenery, many visitors enjoy paddling, hiking, camping, fishing, and birdwatching. Over 240 bird species, bobcats, moose, gray wolves, and beavers inhabit the park.
Renting a houseboat is a popular way to experience the park, giving you more freedom to explore. It also provides the comforts of home for those who prefer not to “rough it.”
Due to its solitude, Voyageurs has little light pollution, making it an excellent place for stargazing. The northern location yields the potential for observing the surreal northern lights. It may be time to get acquainted with Voyageurs National Park.
Glacier National Park
- Established May 11, 1910
NPS statistics show Glacier National Park was the tenth most visited last year. The legendary park turns 113 this year. It features an alluring wilderness with glacier-carved peaks and valleys, sparkling lakes, and sprawling alpine meadows. You can find this slice of heaven in Montana’s northwest corner along the Rocky Mountains.
Glacier National Park boasts more than 700 miles of trails, offering something for beginners and hard-core hikers. Other popular activities include camping, fishing, boating, bicycling, and photography. Winter brings unparalleled opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. If you enjoy wildlife watching, the park houses grizzly bears, black bears, moose, bighorn sheep, elk, mountain goats, lynx, and mountain lions.
For those who prefer scenic drives, take Going-to-the-Sun Road, where you will find exquisite views of glaciers and thunderous waterfalls. You may even spot some wildlife on your journey. Glacier National Park delivers gorgeous scenery and top-notch wildlife no matter how you like to experience the outdoors.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- Established May 14, 1930
Did you know a massive world lies hidden under the Chihuahuan Desert in southern New Mexico? Carlsbad Caverns National Park, turning 93 this May, showcases an underground world of cave formations.
Hike the challenging Natural Entrance Trail, steep with many switchbacks, through the mouth of the cave and into a treasure room full of stalagmites, stalactites, draperies, soda straws, columns, and more. For those who prefer a more relaxed experience, you can take an elevator into the main cavern. The cavern’s Big Room seems to stretch forever as you hike the 1.25-mile namesake trail.
It is consistently 56 degrees Fahrenheit in the cavern year-round. Pack a light jacket or a sweater to explore all the park offers comfortably.
Watch the bat flight program in the evenings from late May through October. From the park’s amphitheater, you will observe swarms of bats emerging from the cave for food. Everything about the park delivers a unique experience.
Crater Lake National Park
- Established May 22, 1902
Oregon’s only national park and America’s fifth oldest, Crater Lake National Park, turns 121 this May. Located in the Cascade mountains of southern Oregon, the park’s namesake lake formed due to a volcano, Mount Mazama, collapsing.
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, at 1,943 feet. One of the bluest lakes you will find anywhere, it has no inlets or water sources. Astonishingly, it is fed only by rain and snow. This purity most likely explains the lake’s deep blue color.
Drive the 33-mile Rim Drive, where you will discover 30 overlooks with panoramic vistas and fantastic lake views. Although many areas are closed for snow and ice from December into June, the park offers beautiful hiking trails through forests and meadows in summer and fall. In winter, you can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, snowboarding, downhill skiing, and snowmobiling.
Although animal sightings are uncommon, elk, black bears, black-tailed deer, mule deer, and mountain lions live in Crater Lake National Park. You can expect feelings of joy or serenity at the breathtaking sight of Crater Lake and the surrounding forests and meadows.
Wrap-Up: National Parks with a Birthday in April or May
Our national parks with a birthday in April or May deserve our attention. Each offers something unique with scenery, wildlife, and recreational opportunities. Whether you choose to visit a remote national park or one that is well-known, plan your adventure.
Featured image credit: National Park Service
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About the author
Scott McConkey is a nationally syndicated travel writer and the founder of Miles with McConkey, where he provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, and inspiration. His travel articles have been seen in The Associated Press wire, ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, MSN, and many more. He and his wife, Julie, left the corporate world after nearly 30 years for a life of travel and adventure. What started as a gap year has evolved into a second act. She creates visual content while he utilizes the written word. Their goal is to create content inspiring others to travel more and live their best lives now.