While national parks tend to be overcrowded during warmer months, visiting in the colder seasons can provide us with a more serene and intimate experience. So pack some extra thermal layers and a jumbo sized thermos, and head out for an adventure that will last a lifetime! Read our list below for some of the best national parks to visit this winter!
Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
While this national park is undeniably captivating during warmer months, the chilly air and fluffy snow adds an extra layer of magic to Yellowstone. During the winter, this iconic landscape is home to incredible wildlife that you won’t want to miss. In this season, a trip to Yellowstone could mean seeing wolves, elk, moose and bison. While these stunning creatures will surely take your breath away, it’s important to remember to admire them from afar. Appreciating wildlife from a distance is the safest and most respectful way to enjoy their company! A trip to this national park also includes seeing the renowned Old Faithful geyser and Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring. This is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world… and although touching the boiling water is off limits, seeing its shimmering shades of yellow, green and turquoise will definitely make up for it.
Yosemite National Park, California
A winter wonderland awaits visitors around every corner of this national park. For those that wish to continue hiking year-round, this is a great place to start. The Valley Loop trail and the Yosemite Falls trail are two routes that stay fairly dry and clear during winter months. This way, hikers can enjoy the views of snow-capped mountains and frozen rivers while still hiking on reliable ground! This national park is also an incredible place to indulge in classic winter activities such as cross country skiing and ice skating. For visitors looking to warm up, there are also on-site museums and visitor centers to take advantage of. Lastly, skiing and snowboarding at the Badger Pass ski area is a must, and the Merced River has year-round fishing to explore!
Hyalite Canyon, Montana
This is one of the best destinations for winter climbers! Whether you’re a climber looking to diversify your skillset, or a seasoned ice climber, this national park has over 150 incredible ice routes to choose from. With options like this, you won’t have any difficulty falling in love with one of North America’s most concentrated natural ice climbing destinations!
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Equally as captivating in every season and at every time of day, this park is a national treasure. During the day, visitors can see the sun rays sparkle across the snow and ice covered canyon. And while this park is usually packed with hikers and tourists in the warmer months, visiting in the winter ensures smaller crowds and a more intimate experience. Bryce Canyon is also an incredible sight at nighttime, as it is a recognized dark sky park. With ideal stargazing skies, full moon snowshoe adventures and guided astronomy programs, this destination is a night owl’s dream.
Zion National Park, Utah
While in Utah, stopping by Zion National park is highly recommended. The snow covered red rock canyons are an incredible sight to see, and are well worth the trip. Although Zion is one of the most visited national parks in the United States, the trails are fairly empty during winter months, allowing visitors to go at their own pace and relax into the park’s atmosphere. During the winter, the park’s famous Observation Point is accessible by hiking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing across Zion Ponderosa. Lastly, from December through February, visitors can drive along the Virgin River for a 6.5 mile scenic route through Zion Canyon.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
This park is an oasis for those looking to experience an athletic adventure! Here, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing are two of the most popular ways to see the Rockies during winter months. Multi-day snowshoe tours, as well as day-long snowshoe adventures, are also offered. These tours will take visitors to various alpine lakes with incredible views of the Rockies. During multi-day tours, explorers will stay in a warm, cozy inn and recharge for their next adventure!
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By: Briahna McTigue