Epic National Parks to Visit in Winter
Are you searching for the ideal winter getaway? If you’re a nature and outdoor enthusiast, you don’t have to wait until summer to explore some of the United States’ greatest national parks.
There are many benefits to visiting national parks in winter. For one, the crowds are much thinner than during peak season. This means you’ll have more peace and quiet while exploring, and you’ll be able to see wildlife with less competition.
In fact, the colder months are when visiting the outdoors is at its most rewarding. There are plenty of reasons to put these incredible national parks at the top of your winter bucket list, with fewer crowds obscuring the views and scenery that will have your jaw on the ground.
What are the Best National Parks to Visit in Winter?
It’s no secret that America’s National Parks are some of the most beautiful places on earth. However, you may not know that many of these parks are just as gorgeous in winter as they are in summer!
In fact, thanks to the lower prices and smaller crowds, winter may be the best time to visit a National Park. If you’re willing to bundle up and explore some of America’s most beautiful landscapes, you’ll be rewarded with uncrowded parks and plenty of activities to choose from.
If you’re looking for a great vacation spot, look no further than America’s National Parks. With campgrounds and historic lodges perfect for families and plenty of variety when it comes to activities and sights, these parks offer something for everyone.
And don’t forget: in the winter months, many parks see crowds that are up to 90% lighter! So if you’re looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of peak season, winter is definitely the time to visit a National Park.
If you’re looking for an adventure in the snow, consider visiting one of America’s Rocky Mountain parks like Yellowstone or Grand Teton.
These areas offer world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities and picturesque scenery that will take your breath away. Death Valley is another great option for those who love winter sports; this park is known for its extreme temperatures and stunning desert landscape.
How To Prepare For a Trip to a National Park in Winter
If you’re like me, the idea of visiting a National Park in winter is both thrilling and chilling. The thought of bundling up and braving the cold for a chance to see some of nature’s most beautiful landscapes is definitely appealing, but I also don’t want to be miserable while I’m there! Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your trip:
- Check the weather conditions and dress appropriately. Layers are always key – you can always take them off if you get too hot, but you’ll be sorry if you’re chilly!
- Make sure you have all the necessary gear. This includes things like hats, gloves, boots, coats, sunscreen, sunglasses, and water bottles.
- Plan your route in advance. You’ll want to make sure you know where all the visitor centers are located so you can warm up when necessary.
- Be prepared for any type of weather condition. Most National Parks are open year-round, so the chances are good that you’ll experience at least one type of extreme weather during your visit.
What to Pack For a Trip to a National Park in Winter
When packing for a trip to a National Park in winter, it’s important to prepare for warm and cold weather. You’ll want to pack clothes that will keep you warm when the temperature drops at night, but you’ll also need clothes that will allow you to stay cool in the sun.
Some items that are essential for any winter National Park trip include:
-A coat or jacket -A hat, gloves, and scarf -Warm pants and boots -Sunscreen and sunglasses -A water bottle
How to Get Around a National Park in Winter
The best way to get around a national park in winter is by car. You can drive to different parts of the park and take trails from there. If you’re visiting a park with mountains, be prepared for snow and icy conditions. Many parks will have plows on staff to clear the roads, but it’s always good to check ahead of time.
If you’re not comfortable driving in snowy conditions, consider hiring a guide or taking a tour. Most parks offer ranger-led tours during winter that provide information about the history and wildlife of the area. You can also find private companies that offer guided tours of national parks.
If you’re visiting a national park in winter, it’s important to know how to get around. Many parks have great hiking trails, but some of the best ones are only open during summer. If you’re looking for something to do in the colder months, consider these activities:
-Ice climbing: This is a popular activity in many national parks. Be sure to check the regulations before you start scaling any mountains!
-Hiking: Even if the trails are closed, you can often hike on the roads in national parks. Just be careful not to get lost!
-Snowshoeing: This is a great way to explore off-limits areas during summer. Most national parks will have rentals available, so don’t forget your snowshoes!
-Skiing/snowboarding: A few national parks allow visitors to ski or snowboard on their slopes. Be sure to check regulations before you go and be aware of avalanche danger!
What to Do When Visiting a National Park in Winter
If you’re visiting a national park in winter, there are a few things you should know. For starters, most of the park will be closed during this time of year. This means that you won’t be able to visit certain areas or take certain hikes.
However, don’t let this stop you from enjoying your trip! There are still plenty of things to do in winter at national parks.
One great activity is hiking. Although many trails will be closed, there are usually still a few open for visitors. Hiking is a great way to explore the park and see its beauty firsthand. Another option is camping.
National parks offer some of the best camping spots in the country, and winter is definitely the time to enjoy them. The campsites are usually less crowded than during other times of the year, and the scenery is unbeatable.
If you’re not into hiking or camping, don’t worry! There are plenty of other activities to choose from as well. You could go skiing or snowboarding in the park, visit a museum or visitor center, or just take a walk around and admire the scenery.
No matter what you choose to do, make sure to enjoy your time at one of America’s beautiful national parks.
Arches National Park, Utah
A journey through this Utah desert wonderland will make you feel like you’ve departed earth and landed on Mars, with over 2,000 arches that give the park its name, enormous mesas, and peculiar-looking rock formations.
While it does snow in Arches during the winter, it isn’t enough to ruin the experience. In reality, just enough snowfalls to create an extremely striking contrast of white against the red rock terrain that is Arches’ trademark.
Furthermore, there’s something about the winter sky and the snow-capped La Sal Mountains in the background that makes winter sunrises and sunsets at Arches absolutely unforgettable.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
If you’re looking for a great winter-friendly national park to visit, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a perfect option. This park is located in New Mexico and is famous for its limestone formations that look like jellyfish or fairies. Even if it’s cold outside, the cave stays a balmy 56 degrees Fahrenheit year-round!
In addition to exploring the cave, you can hike in the surrounding Guadalupe Mountains, which feel like an island in the Chihuahuan desert. Be sure to check out the vista-rich hiking trails! And if you’re visiting during December, White Sands National Park is also nearby.
Keep in mind that the dry season runs from October to April and the wet season from May to September. The park is closed on December 25th. So if you’re looking for a great winter getaway, Carlsbad Caverns National Park should definitely be at the top of your list!
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah in the United States. The park is known for its unique geology and the amphitheater of red, orange, and white sandstone pinnacles called hoodoos.
The park was established as a national park on October 26, 1928. It covers 35,835 acres (144 km2) and receives more than 1 million visitors each year.
Hiking and photography are popular activities in Bryce Canyon National Park during the winter months. The park has a Rim Trail that leads from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point; it’s possible to hike between the two points. The Sunset Points are more popular for photographers as the light travels across red hoodoos and creates faded images on snowy pinnacles.
Bryce Canyon National Park has daily activities for winter sports enthusiasts, including snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and ranger-led snowshoe walks.
The most famous spot in the park is the overlook, where visitors can take photos. Bryce Canyon is a popular destination for snow sports enthusiasts in the winter. The park contains multi-colored sandstone and pristine forests, making it one of America’s most beautiful national parks.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, and Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, and it is one of the most popular national parks in the country.
The park sees a significant number of visitors each year, with over 9 million people visiting in 2016. However, because the park is so large (covering 800 miles), it’s easy to find a place to yourself even during peak season.
The park gets its name from the fog that often hangs over the mountains, which gives the appearance of smoke. The park is home to various plants and animals, including black bears, elk, deer, and bobcats. There are also more than 1,500 species of trees!
One of the best things about visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park in winter is that it’s much less crowded than during other times of the year.
In fact, some years there isn’t any snow at all! However, be prepared for colder temperatures–the high temperature in January is usually in the 50s.
While you’re in the area, check out Alum Cave on Cades Cove Loop Road. This destination offers great views overlooking the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The majority of the year, Yellowstone National Park is a beautiful jewel, but during the winter months, it transforms into a winter wonderland filled with snow-capped trees, frozen lakes, and fascinating geysers that seem otherworldly.
From November through April, getting to Yellowstone might be difficult, especially since most roads are closed to traffic and accessible only via specialized vehicles. Even so, with a little preparation, you can experience the majesty of this national park in an entirely unique way.
Another bonus of visiting Yellowstone in the winter? You may take a breath from the breathtaking views while skiing or snowboarding in nearby Jackson Hole.
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park is located in the southwest United States in Utah. The park experiences cold winters and is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Zion National Park draws many visitors in the warmer months, but when winter rolls around, numbers drop along with weather conditions.
The highest level of precipitation is found in December through March, but the snow doesn’t last long on the valley floor. Ice and snow remain in higher elevations, making some hikes more challenging during this time of year.
Zion National Park experiences cold winters. While many people visit during other times of the year, it’s a completely different experience to see this magnificent park under a blanket of snow.
Zion sees annual precipitation falls predominately between December and March. However, rain and snow are common throughout the year; winter travelers should be prepared for colder temperatures and potentially icy conditions.
Despite these challenges, Zion National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth – and it’s definitely worth braving bad weather for a chance to see it in all its glory!
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is located in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona. The park is divided into the Tucson Mountain District and the Rincon Mountain District. The Tucson Mountain District is open all year, while the Rincon Mountain District is open from October to May.
The park gets its name from the saguaro cactus, which is native to the Sonoran Desert and grows only in Arizona, California, and Mexico.
Saguaro National Park has more than 165 miles of trails that wind through desert washes, foothills, and mountains. There are also picnic areas, campgrounds, and a visitor center in each district.
In winter, temperatures at Saguaro National Park range from the mid-60s to the low 70s during the day. This makes it a great time to visit because it’s not too hot and not too cold! The park offers plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy nature no matter what time of year they visit.
Everglades National Park, Florida
The Everglades National Park is a beautiful place to visit any time of year, but it’s especially gorgeous during winter. The lower water levels allow for increased visibility and enhance the chance to see alligators, including some in the winter months. The park has a pleasant climate from November through April, with mosquito-free conditions during the dry and cool conditions offered in this time frame.
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
The Petrified Forest National Park is located in northeastern Arizona and is open all year round. The park gets its name from the large deposits of petrified wood that are found there. The park also contains archaeological sites, including the ruins of an ancient pueblo.
The Petrified Forest National Park is a beautiful place to visit any time of year, but it’s especially worth seeing in December when the temperatures are milder than in summer. During December, you’ll be able to see clear skies, which will allow you to see for miles into the distance!
The weather in the park can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to come prepared for all kinds of conditions. The temperatures can range from very hot to quite cold, so make sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen if you’re visiting during the summer months. In addition, the park can be quite windy, so bring a jacket or coat just in case.
Death Valley National Park, California
Although summertime trips to Death Valley National Park are not recommended (because it is hot… we’re talking temperatures in the 120-degree range!) Winter is a wonderful time to go to this magnificent park.
Don’t be fooled by its name. The region surrounding Death Valley National Park is vibrant with life, and there’s no better time of year to witness its desert magic than winter. Consider the ominous appearance of fractured rocks, salt flats as far as the eye can see, and hills streaked with colors you never imagined would go together in nature!
Biscayne National Park, Florida
Do you want to feel warmer and more energetic? If you’re searching for a beach and a natural experience, Biscayne National Park is the place to go.
This national park is located in the Florida Keys, where it sees sunshine all year round, but it’s really unique because it’s 95% underwater.
Yep, this means you’ll need to go beneath the surface to really get a good look at it. You can choose between snorkeling or taking part in an (epic) scuba diving excursion. If you don’t want to get wet, a third choice involves visiting Citrine Bay on a glass-bottom boat!
After you’ve had your fill of looking under its waves, you can walk around the rest of the park, which is only 5% of it and comprises tiny islands where you may go on foot in search of epic animals and unrivaled natural beauty.
Canyonlands National Park
To get a decent idea of what visiting Canyonlands National Park is all about, imagine red rock canyons plastered all over and sandstone spires piercing the sky.
Canyonlands is massive, with over 330,000 acres to explore. You can pretty much visit Canyonlands dozens of times and never really do the same thing twice because there’s so much area. If you want to get an excellent start to your trip, winter is the ideal season.
It does get chilly at night, but visiting Canyonlands in the winter months means fewer people, which essentially means you’ll have more solitude to explore some of the world’s greatest viewpoints (psst… don’t miss sunrise at Mesa Arch).
Grand Canyon National Park
Consider a winter expedition to the Grand Canyon to see one of the United States’ most renowned vistas coated in snow! A winter trip to see the Grand Canyon is a must on your adventure agenda if you want to experience something truly unique at one of America’s most popular locations.
The North Rim closes in the winter, but the South Rim (which is usually crowded at any other time of year) remains open, allowing you to explore some of the most famous hiking routes without competing with thousands of other people.
If you’d rather not work up a sweat, you can grab your car keys and take the picturesque route to Desert View or book a flight to receive a birds-eye view of the canyon blanketed in snow, which offers a sight that will last a lifetime!
Get Out and Explore The Best National Parks in the Winter
During the winter, visiting these national parks in the United States is almost certainly an unforgettable experience. If you adore peaceful outdoor activities and would want to enjoy the views alone, this is without a doubt your number one motivation to travel this season.
What are some other epic national parks to visit during the winter? Let us know in the comments section down below what your favorites are!
FAQ About National Parks in The Winter
The America the Beautiful Pass is a great way to save money on day-use fees at many of the country’s national parks. The price for an America the Beautiful pass is only $80, making it a good deal for those planning to visit multiple parks in one year. The America the Beautiful Pass pays for itself within 3-4 visits to popular US national parks.
The America the Beautiful Pass is one of our favorite travel deals, and we think you’ll love it too!