Spring can be one of those iffy seasons in the National Park System. You might run into warm, sunny days with an easy breeze at your back. Or, you could find yourself being pelted by sleet, battered by a stiff wind, with grey clouds scooting by overhead.
One thing you can count on, though, are wildflowers; glorious wildflowers and trees in colorful bloom. Columbines and trilliums, Shooting stars, Indian paintbrush, redbuds and dozens upon dozens more. All these floral species work in concert to color these landscapes as they recover from the cold, bleak days of winter. In honor of this kaleidoscopic outburst, on page 3 we launch a story on the best places in the parks to find wildflowers. As well as touching on some reliable parks for wildflower spotting, we also highlight some useful Internet tools so you can find your favorite species, whether you’re in search of wildflowers or wildlife.
One prime destination for spring is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and beginning on page 8 of our digital guide we outline three great days in this iconic national park. Whether you head to Cades Cove, Cataloochee, or the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (which winds its way roughly 70 miles through the park) you won’t be disappointed with a springtime visit to the Smokies. While in Great Smoky, go out of your way to visit some of the majestic hemlock groves, now threatened by a tiny insect imported to the United States from Japan. With help from contributor Jane Schneider, we took the pulse of the battle against the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in eastern units of the National Park System, and have found some good news. Our stories open on page 15.
Also in our Essential Park Guide for spring you’ll be encouraged to visit a Canadian national park this year, as the country celebrates the 150th anniversary of independence from Great Britain. You’ll also find a special paddling section to the National Park System, as well as some good books.
While the weather might be contrary at times, get moving. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed by a spring visit to a national park. We'll be rolling out the stories on the Traveler in the weeks and months ahead, but you can dive into the digital version below, order a hard copy for $14.95, or download a digital copy for $2.50.