11 of the most effective nationwide parks to go to throughout winter

Editor’s observe: This can be a recurring publish, often up to date with new info and affords.

Ken Burns was one of many many who’ve stated it: The nationwide parks have been America’s finest concept.

Through the coronavirus pandemic, the attract of our nation’s parklands turned much more highly effective, with vacationers looking for wild, outside areas in droves. In 2020, some nationwide park visitation numbers even ecilpsed 2019 ranges. And in 2022, the Nationwide Park Service recorded 312 million recreation visits.

Fortuitously, you possibly can normally get a reprieve from the crowds — and nonetheless get pleasure from spectacular surroundings — by visiting a nationwide park in the course of the winter. These are the nationwide parks finest seen within the wintertime, from hanging snowscapes to secluded retreats.

Bryce Canyon Nationwide Park

A dawn shot of rock hoodoos at Sundown Level. NOPPAWAT TOM CHAROENSINPHON/GETTY IMAGES

In July of 2022, greater than 318,861 folks visited Bryce Canyon. However in January, fewer than 31,000 people have been tramping round. That’s a giant distinction for vacationers who’d want to commune with nature versus a bunch of different vacationers.

Whereas the climate in winter could be fairly chilly, the chilly temperatures and excessive elevation provide winter guests a enjoyable alternative: cross-country snowboarding. Outside lovers can lay their very own tracks or glide up groomed trails to take a look at the snow-capped hoodoos.

Entry to the park is $35 per car for seven consecutive days. We suggest getting an $80 annual nationwide park cross for those who plan to go to a couple of park a 12 months. A cross is a superb concept for those who’re touring to Bryce since it may be simply mixed with Zion Nationwide Park and Grand Canyon Nationwide Park.

Crater Lake Nationwide Park


With roughly 40 toes of snow falling on Crater Lake Nationwide Park yearly, it is a marvel extra folks do not go to Oregon’s solely nationwide park within the winter.

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Through the winter season, which stretches from roughly November all the way in which into Could (and it will possibly keep fairly chilly even late in the summertime), vacationers can discover the huge panorama on snowshoes, skis, snowmobiles, snowboards and sleds. Actually, the park is anchored by the deepest lake within the U.S., which fills an historical caldera within the Cascade Mountains and will present much more leisure freedom than what you’d discover in the course of the summer season, when scenic roads are full of sightseeing drivers. (In July of 2022, Crater Lake welcomed almost 140,000 guests — in December, that quantity plunged to fewer than 5,500.)

Simply understand that many roads, together with the North Entrance Highway, near automobiles on Nov. 1 or earlier, relying on snowfall. Although the highway to Rim Village is usually plowed, guests should want tire chains or all-wheel-drive automobiles with winter tires in an effort to safely enter the park. Be certain your car is ready to deal with the snowy and icy roads, or plan on getting into the park on a snowmobile or with different snow gear.

Everglades Nationwide Park

A resident of Everglades Nationwide Park. CASSIDY ATHOS/EYEEM/GETTY IMAGES

Everglades Nationwide Park is definitely busiest within the winter months. However it’s hotter than Hades when the moist season hits — and the ever present mosquitos are the dimensions of golf balls, so winter nonetheless reigns supreme at this southern nationwide park.

Head over to the Gulf Coast facet of the park to canoe by means of extraordinary coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods. There’s a world-renowned number of migrating birds, manatees and the one place on the planet the place each gators and crocodiles coexist.

You may have a luxurious keep on factors and nonetheless be inside driving distance of Everglades Nationwide Park by reserving a room on the JW Marriott Marco Island Seaside Resort or Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, a Curio Assortment property by Hilton.

Associated: 9 of the most effective nationwide parks to go to within the fall

Yosemite Nationwide Park

A winter scene in Yosemite. BENJEEV RENDHAVA/GETTY IMAGES

Yosemite was one of many first tracts of land to obtain the nationwide park denomination and is taken into account some of the majestic locations within the nation. Hundreds of thousands of individuals make the pilgrimage yearly to the house of the Half Dome and El Capitan — two iconic monoliths made much more well-known by the popularization of mountain climbing.

Whereas most guests stroll across the valley or hike the arduous Mist Path within the hotter months, the park affords simply as many outside actions throughout winter, with snow sports activities starting from downhill and cross-country snowboarding to tubing and sledding, snowshoeing and ice skating. Outfitters will even take you snowmobiling. You’ll face far fewer crowds than within the warm-weather months, irrespective of which diversion you select.

Understand that Tioga Highway closes from about November to late Could or early June yearly. However in any other case, a lot of the remainder of the park stays accessible. The park can be dwelling to a ski resort, Badger Cross, which is much extra reasonably priced (and fewer overwhelming) than fashionable megaresorts elsewhere in California, comparable to these in Lake Tahoe or Mammoth.

Grand Canyon Nationwide Park

Trying down into Grand Canyon. MICHAEL DEYOUNG/GETTY IMAGES

There’s a cause the Grand Canyon is without doubt one of the most visited nationwide parks within the nation: It’s one of many Seven Pure Wonders of the World because of its awe-inspiring scale and measurement. Nevertheless, the summer season crowds and corresponding site visitors can put a damper on the wonderment.

So, many guests contemplate winter an underrated and notably particular time to go to the Grand Canyon. Take within the view from the favored Vibrant Angel Path. That’s when the dramatic pink rocks pop beneath a dusting of snow, and also you’ll share the surroundings with only a fraction of the variety of vacationers right here in the summertime. You’ll additionally see extra animal exercise in the course of the cooler months due to the climate and since the wildlife is emboldened within the absence of people.

Whereas the North Rim of the canyon does shut for the winter, the South Rim space stays open, with temperatures on the rim usually peaking within the 40s and dropping into the 20s. Temperatures on the canyon ground are a bit larger, between the 30s to excessive 50s.

Think about bedding down on the Greatest Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn and Vacation Inn Categorical & Suites Grand Canyon close to the South Rim.

Associated: The 19 nationwide parks each traveler must see not less than as soon as

Loss of life Valley Nationwide Park

Trying throughout Loss of life Valley. DENISE TAYLOR/GETTY IMAGES

Loss of life Valley is notorious for its drought and scalding summer season temperatures, persistently exceeding 100 levels. So, it’s no shock that vacationers drawn to this sprawling desert panorama typically come right here in winter, when the daytime temperatures are decidedly much less lethal and snow has dusted the encompassing peaks.

Situated in Jap California, Loss of life Valley Nationwide Park is a good highway journey vacation spot from Las Vegas. Only a 2.5-hour drive from Sin Metropolis, vacationers can go to Badwater Basin (a salt flat with the bottom elevation on the continent). Within the winter, it’s cool sufficient for guests to stroll out onto the salt flat and see the long-lasting “salt polygons” — geometric formations on the earth — up shut.

One other can’t-miss sight is Artist’s Palette on Artist’s Drive, a 9-mile scenic route that snakes by means of the multicolored badlands. The kaleidoscopic hues, fashioned by varied metals oxidizing within the mountains, are finest seen within the late afternoon mild.

If you wish to spend the evening within the park, e-book a keep at Stovepipe Wells Village Lodge. Rooms have a traditional Western really feel, and there are on-site facilities comparable to a pool, saloon and normal retailer. There are additionally campsites and RV hookups accessible.

Yellowstone Nationwide Park

Steam from geysers and scorching springs at Yellowstone. TCYUEN/GETTY IMAGES

Should you’ve visited Yellowstone in the course of the summer season, you have been probably met with herds of vacationers (irresponsibly) stopping to take selfies with bison and had your view of Outdated Trustworthy impeded by tons of of selfie sticks. However within the winter, guests are rewarded with a distinct type of expertise.

Steam from erupting geysers and scorching springs creates a powerful distinction to the snow-covered backdrop. Wolves and bighorn sheep make their look — undoubtedly take part in a wolf-viewing tour. And skiers get pleasure from a serene expertise that may’t be discovered at any ski resort on Earth.

Search Cook dinner Metropolis, Gardiner, Crimson Lodge or West Yellowstone in Montana for inns or rental properties close to the trio of Montana entrances. The brand new Kimpton in Bozeman is another choice if you’d like a extra luxurious lodging expertise utilizing your factors. It’s about 90 miles away from Yellowstone.

There are additionally many locations to mattress down on the two Wyoming entrances (particularly Cody, Wyoming). Should you’re in search of a spot to stick with factors, contemplate the Vacation Inn in West Yellowstone, the Ascend Lodge or Consolation Inn in West Yellowstone, the Days Inn by Wyndham West Yellowstone or the Greatest Western Desert Inn and Greatest Western Weston Inn.

Glacier Nationwide Park

In Glacier Nationwide Park. DARREN MURPH/THE POINTS GUY

Due to social media and the recognition of journey journey, many people are satisfied now we have to catch a flight to Iceland or Alaska for an opportunity to see the northern lights.

However you possibly can merely head to Glacier Nationwide Park — a chosen darkish sky park — in the course of the winter, and also you’ll have a stable shot at witnessing the celestial phenomenon. Lake MacDonald, which stretches 10 miles to the north, is surrounded by excessive peaks and affords an unobstructed sky view.

Glacier Nationwide Park usually prices a $35 entrance payment per car in the summertime, however vacationers who courageous the chilly will get a reduced charge of $25 within the winter.

Nevertheless, for those who go to Glacier within the winter, you’ll wish to keep simply outdoors the park. There are a couple of luxurious inns, together with the Firebrand Lodge in Whitefish, and vacationers can use factors to remain on the TownePlace Suites Whitefish in Kalispell; a SpringHill Suites in Kalispell; or one among Hilton’s 4 properties within the space, together with a Hilton Backyard Inn, a Hampton Inn, a Homewood Suites and a Hampton Inn and Suites.

Associated: 7 methods to go to America’s nationwide parks for much less

Huge Bend Nationwide Park


Uncover impossibly darkish skies and crowd-free, wide-open areas at Huge Bend Nationwide Park in West Texas. Go to in the course of the winter to flee the blistering southern warmth and stargaze in solitude.

Spend your days mountain climbing within the Chisos Mountains (simply be aware of path closures for peregrine falcon nesting season) or soaking within the space’s pure scorching springs close to Rio Grande Village.

Plan far upfront, and you may keep on the Chisos Mountains Lodge — however vacationers may also make the most of the park’s huge campgrounds. In any case, the lows hardly ever drop beneath the low 40s even within the top of winter, making it the right time to cozy up in an RV or tent.

Saguaro Nationwide Park

Saguaro cactus in snow after a uncommon winter storm within the desert at Saguaro Nationwide Park. MDESIGNER125/GETTY IMAGES

Winter storms could also be sporadic in Saguaro Nationwide Park, however even for those who don’t see towering cacti dusted with snow, winter should be top-of-the-line occasions to go to this underrated parkland.

Lower than a half-hour from Tucson, Arizona, this nationwide park is within the heart of the Sonoran Desert, that means daytime temperatures in the course of the summer season can exceed 110 levels. That’s what makes winter a pleasant time to go to when the delicate temperatures hover across the mid-60s and 70s.

Along with the nation’s largest cacti, saguaros, which might develop as much as 60 toes in top and may dwell to be over 200 years previous, guests who discover the park will uncover historical petroglyphs, a close-by family-friendly museum, a number of scenic drives and mountain trails that fluctuate in length and problem.

Associated: Enjoyable household highway journeys in Arizona

Grand Teton Nationwide Park

Grand Teton Nationwide Park in winter. MELANIE LIEBERMAN/THE POINTS GUY

Uncover a crowd-free model of Wyoming’s hanging Grand Teton Nationwide Park by visiting within the winter. After the ultimate leaf-peepers depart, the park turns into a winter wonderland the place you possibly can cross-country ski, snowshoe and even snowmobile by means of the snowdrifts.

For a extra leisurely expertise, canine sled excursions take guests by means of the silver-white wilderness. Whether or not you’re on a sled or skis, be careful for wildlife: Winter is a good time to identify elk, moose, bison, deer, bald eagles and wolves.

Simply observe that there are not any lodges or companies open within the park in the course of the low season, so that you’ll wish to keep within the close by cities of Jackson and Teton Village. Think about the Cloudveil, a comparatively new Class 7 Autograph Assortment that opened in Jackson. You would possibly even discover some off-peak award availability.

Associated studying:

Extra reporting by Josh Laskin and Melanie Lieberman.

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