National parks have long been a popular escape, and not only during warm weather. The winter months bring a unique variety of gorgeous scenery, various wildlife, adventure sports, and stunning historical sights.
Majestic landscapes like you have never seen before can be found this time of the year. Visitors will enjoy spectacular views of vast ranges topped with white powder, dusted trails with no crowds, ice caves, and frozen lakes and rivers. Just imagine seeing strangely-shaped red pillars against the striking contrast of snowflakes! It's quite the sight to see.
One of the most common reasons tourists and locals visit these parks during the winter is for their abundance of winter sports. From skiing to snowmobiling, tubing, hiking, snowshoeing and more, these national parks will never leave you bored. Continue reading for the best national parks to visit during the winter.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
This park is a popular cross-country ski area, as it gets plenty of snow. Many guests feel that exploring the natural beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park's vividly colored rock formations is even more satisfying while on an adventure through the snow. Come prepared with your snow gear and embark on a hike on The Fairyland Loop, go on an adrenaline-pumping ATV ride or experience a winter astronomy session.
Arches National Park, Utah
If you are a lover of landscapes and scenery, visiting Arches National Park will be the trip of a lifetime. Capture photographs of over 2,000 sandstone arches and various geological formations covered in snow. The red rock landscapes will leave you breathless. While you are there, try camping and embark on a winter hike for more remarkable views.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Home to the world's longest recorded cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park will leave you in awe. Visitors describe this park as peaceful and beautiful. Take a tour of Mammoth Cave, which consists of 390 miles of passageway, then go on a beautiful winter hike and end your day at a back-country campsite.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Exploring the Rocky Mountains during the winter months is nothing short of extraordinary. It is less crowded compared to the summer, for one thing. The park encourages you to showshoe on all their hiking trails. Visitors will also enjoy sledding in Hidden Valley and skiing and snowmobiling down the glaciers and steep chutes. Wildlife lovers, make sure to look out for elk while going down the slopes.
Banff National Park, Canada
Pristine wilderness, spectacular sights, and infinite outdoor adventures are just some of the many things you have to look forward to in Canada's oldest national park, Banff National Park. Go on a helicopter tour for magnificent views, soak in the soothing waters of the Banff Upper Hotsprings or go ice skating, cross-country skiing and dogsledding. While you're there make sure to check out their famous historic sites, some of which include the Banff Park Museum, the Historic Luxton Museum and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian rockies.
Jasper National Park, Canada
Jasper National Park is the largest of the Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks. It is home to the largest cross-country ski area in Canada. Bring your camera to capture photos of the snow-covered mountain peaks and magical winter landscapes. Tourists and locals enjoy going to Jasper for its abundant wildlife and winter sports. Snowshoeing, skiing and hiking are popular.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and Montana
America's first national park, Yellowstone, offers a variety of activities for visitors to engage in. Although winter sports such as hiking, skiing and snowshoeing are popular, there are also many more winter adventures to experience. Take a sleigh ride through an elk herd in Jackson Hole, watch wolves in Lamar Valley, take a dip in one of their soothing hotsprings, and go camping.
Apostle Island National Park, Wisconsin
Winter is the best time to see the incredible ice caves located in Wisconsin's Apostle Island National Park. The caves require a 1-mile walk to get to and are said to feature some of the best views in the Great Lakes. While you're there, make sure to climb to the top of Apostle's lighthouse for more incredible views of the park.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the variety of winter activities Acadia National Park has to offer. Among the standard winter activities, the park offers opportunities to go dogsledding, ice fishing, skijoring and ice climbing above the crashing waves of the Atlantic. Head to a designated sighting location and witness the migration of snowy owls as they fly over the park.
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Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Home to the active volcano Mount Rainier, this park boasts beautiful scenic views and a vast amount of wildlife. Snap photos of the fresh white powdery landscapes and spectacular glaciers. Winter sports such as sliding, skiing, sledding, snowboarding and snowshoeing are popular, while scenic drives and overnight camping are also favorites among locals and tourists.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
This popular bucket list destination is absolutely breathtaking during the winter months. The white snow in contrast with the rocks makes for a powerful and inspiring landscape. Take a walk along the rim of the canyon for a chance to see elk and ravens; if it's too cold outside for you, check out the Yavapai Museum of Geology for a chance to view the canyon from inside; and make sure to hike up the Grand Canyon for a stunning view of the sunset.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Olympic National Park is a favorite due to its unique combination of three distinctive environments: the mountains (heavily glaciated despite modest elevation), a coast laced with rock formations called sea stacks, and a rainforest where every available inch is covered with growth. About 95 percent of the park is designated wilderness. During the winter months, skiers enjoy the slopes at Hurricane Ridge and snowshoers find solitude on 20 miles of trails.
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
Hawaii's second biggest island, Maui, is home to Haleakala National Park. During the winter months the temperature is cooler, making for more comfortable surroundings. Big wave surfing, whale watching, and camping are popular among tourists and locals alike. If you're interested in being Indiana Jones for the day, go ziplining through a lush forest and along a swinging bridge. You will fly over canyons and experience 90-foot drops.
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Zion National Park, Utah
Located in Utah is the famous Zion National Park. It is one of the most popular National Parks in the country, and for good reason. This park has a ton of outdoor adventures to embark on and an immense amount of nature to explore. During the winter the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive offers incredible views. Wildlife is also in abundance; the park is home to 68 species of mammals. Make sure to embark on a hike while you are there; the Weeping Rock Trailhead will take you to an observation point that offers incredible views of the park. Other things to explore include The Subway, Angel's Landing and The Narrows.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Home to the deepest lake in the United States, Crater Lake National Park is best visited during the winter months. There are a variety of winter activities at guests' disposal, some of which include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, inner tubing, and snowmobiling. Tourists and locals mostly enjoy circumnavigating the lake on skis and snowshoes.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Home to some of the world's best hot springs, this national park attracts visitors year-round. Within the park you will find locations where you can see and touch the 143 -degree thermal water; it is said to have healing and soothing properties. Visitors can bathe in the hot spring water at Buckstaff Baths or enjoy a spa day at the Quapaw Bathhouse. Other activities to pursue at this park include hiking, camping and scenic driving.
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Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Mesa Verde, meaning "green table" in Spanish, offers an unmatched opportunity to experience unique history and spectacular scenery. Winter sport enthusiasts will enjoy skiing and snowshoeing on the Cliff Palace-Balcony House Loop and Wetherill Road, while winter ecology hikes are also accessible. If you're not interested in winter sports go on a ranger-guided tour to visit the Spruce Tree House - the third largest cliff dwelling in the park.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Located in Wyoming, south of Yellowstone, is the famous Grand Teton National Park. Those of you interested in a calm and tranquil getaway, this is the park for you. Grand Teton offers peace and quiet. There are many mountains which make for not only gorgeous scenery but an abundance of winter sports. It's the perfect park for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sleigh riding. There are over 200 miles of trails to explore at your leisure.
Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska
Found in Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle, you will find Gates of the Arctic National Park. Visitors will enjoy exploring glacier valleys scenic trails and viewing the spectacular Northern Lights. While you're there, go hiking or camping and experience the backcountry.
Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Another one of Alaska's National Parks, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, made the list for its pristine and quiet atmosphere. Be prepared, the winters can get very cold, but you will be rewarded with beauty like you may have never encountered before. Make sure to explore the gargantuan volcanoes and unique glaciers, which easily make this national park one of the most mesmerizing places on earth.
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