Some Great Ideas For Spending Spring In The National Park System

Spring is a great time to explore the Natchez Trace Parkway, which is celebrating its 75th year this year. Marc Muench photo of Spanish moss along the Parkway via NPS.

Spring is a great time to get outside and enjoy all that America’s national parks have to offer. It’s also a perfect opportunity to collect new Passport cancellations! Here are some exciting events which will encourage you to get out of the house and over the winter doldrums:

* Great Smoky Mountains Scavenger Hunt. You and your team will search for the answers to about 75 questions, using research, your knowledge of the park, and your digital camera to find and record your answers! This event costs $50 per team and includes dinner. This event is limited to 200 participants.

* National Cherry Blossom Festival. View the National Mall in full bloom this year! Every Spring, the city and it's memorials come to life with the pink hues of the cherry blossoms. The festival will be held March 20 through April 14. Kids can earn a ‘Bloomin’ Junior Ranger’ badge trough a special Junior Ranger program.

* Did you know that April is Jazz Appreciation Month? You can experience the American music movement at New Orleans Jazz NHP. Hopewell Furnace is also hosting the Civilian Conservation Corps: A Musical Tribute in Jazz.

* Boston NHP will commemorate Paul Revere’s historic row across Boston Harbor, which preceded his famous ride, on April 14th at the USS Constitution Museum at Charlestown Navy Yard.

* An ongoing exhibit at Grand Canyon NP profiles the Kolb Brothers, through stories of their adventures, their family, and their enduring photography business on the rim.

* "A Walk into the Past," taking place twice monthly throughout the Spring at Hawai’I Volcanoes NP, features a living history presenter, dressed in period costume, bringing back to life Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar, founder of Hawai'i Volcanoes Observatory and a prominent figure in the history of Volcanology, the study of volcanoes.

* National Park Week. National Park Week is a time to get out and explore the parks-fee free April 20-28! Kick the week off with National Junior Ranger Day on April 20. Check with parks for special activities.

* Earth Day. Every April 22 is Earth Day. It's a day to volunteer or enjoy our public and natural areas. Aztec Ruins NM is offering its 5th annual Earth Day event with activities for all ages. John Muir NHS is hosting an Earth Day/Birthday event to honor the conservationist that gave the park its name. Cape Lookout NS is holding its Crystal Coast Earth Day Festival.

* A Kids’ Wild Discovery Walk will take place at Saratoga NHP on April 27th. Kids will start with some great nature-based games, then head onto the trail and be on the lookout for frogs, salamanders, insects, plants, animal tracks, and even "aliens!"

* Battle of Chancellorsville. Commemoration of the Civil War Sesquicentennial continues with an reenactment of the Battle of Chancellorsville May 3-5. Several other parks will commemorate the 150th anniversary of their Civil War battles throughout the Spring and Summer, including Vicksburg NMP, Gettysburg NMP and Chickamauga- Chattanooga NMP.

* Special programs and tours will commemorate the landing of the first settlers at Jamestown in 1607. Jamestown Landing Weekend at Colonial NHP will take place on May 11-12.

* Memorial Day Events. Celebrate Memorial Day on May 27 by exploring our parks! Many parks are having special ceremonies or events Saturday, Sunday, and/or Monday, including Sagamore Hill NHS, Petersburg NB, and Andersonville NHS. Or you can find a park near you!

* Natchez Trace Parkway. Enjoy a drive through history as the parkway celebrates its 75th anniversary this year!