15 Reasons to Visit the National Parks During Winter Instead of Summer from 15 Reasons to Visit the National Parks During Winter Instead of Summer

15 Reasons to Visit the National Parks During Winter Instead of Summer

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15 Reasons to Visit the National Parks During Winter Instead of Summer

Contrary to what many people believe, the national parks shouldn’t be overlooked in the winter. These are actually some of the most calm, peaceful, and beautiful months to visit the parks. You will have the opportunity to admire snowy landscapes, enjoy nature, and view spectacular wildlife when the parks are less crowded and tourists are hardly around.

Related: The 15 Most Romantic Winter Destinations

Fewer visitors mean that a last-minute getaway is an option; you can book your hotel room on short notice. Stay in cozy lodges and beautiful cabins to get the most out of your experience.

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Skiing

Skiing is one of the world’s most well-known winter sports, and one of the most common in the national parks. Head to Bryce Canyon National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park for some incredible cross-country skiing. Make sure to visit Yosemite National Park for your chance to explore the oldest downhill skiing area in California.

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Hiking

If you’re looking for a beautiful winter hike with dramatic scenery and snowy landscapes, you’re definitely going to want to visit the national parks during the winter. Head to Bryce Canyon National Park and hike along the rim of the canyon on the Fairyland Loop Trail; visit Acadia National Park and hike the Gorham Mountain Trail for stunning views of Otter Point and Baker Island; and go to Yosemite National Park to embark on the famous Mirror Lake Trail for spectacular views of the frozen lake and snow-covered cliffs.

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Snorkeling

For those of you who want to escape the cold and participate in water sports, you’re in luck: There are some national parks where you can go snorkeling year-round. Biscayne National Park in Florida is known for its incredible coral reefs, snorkeling, and diving.

Cozy Lodges

Winter is the best time for a romantic getaway, and what better way to spend it than in a cozy lodge located in one of the country’s famous national parks? Visit Hotel Terra, a “green hotel,” located in Grand Teton National Park; spend a few days in The Stanley, surrounded by Rocky Mountain National Park; and enjoy the best of both worlds with easy access to both Arches and Canyonlands national parks by staying at the Sorrel River Ranch.

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Snowy Landscapes

One of the perks of visiting national parks during this time of the year is the stunning snow-covered landscapes. The dramatic snowy backdrops make for perfect winter wonderland photos. Some of the most beautiful national parks in the winter include Bryce Canyon National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Jasper National Park, and Yellowstone National Park.

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Ice Caves

Head to the gorgeous Apostle Island National Park for winter beauty that you may have never encountered before. The ice caves are stunning in February; the lake surface is frozen over and the lakeshore cliffs form a crimson red border to this stunning arctic landscape, nps.gov explains. “Pillars of ice extend to the cliff tops where waterfalls have hardened in place.”

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Fewer Visitors

In many, but not all, of the national parks, you will find fewer visitors during the winter months. Enjoy the natural beauty of Great Basin National Park without the tourists; embark on a journey through abundant forests and admire alpine lakes in North Cascades National Park without having to worry about running into plenty of people along the way; and explore the incredible wilderness in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve; go fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing without being disturbed by other people.

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Northern Lights

Observe the Aurora Borealis from dusk until dawn in Alaska’s Wrangell–St. Elias National Park. The best time to view this light display is between midnight and 2 a.m., from September through April, NPS explains.

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Mild Temperatures

For those of you who would rather spend your winter getaway somewhere warmer, there are tons of national parks to choose from. There are plenty of national parks with hot, harsh temperatures during the summer months, making winter the perfect time to visit. Everglades National Park has mild temperatures and less humidity during the winter months.

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Snow Camping

Adventure-lovers will be happy to know that many of the country’s national parks offer snow camping during the winter months. Recharge your body and mind with stunning views of wild nature, breathtaking frozen waterfalls, majestic ice-covered lakes and rivers, powdery red rock landscapes, and lavish forests — all blanketed by snow.  Stay overnight in Yosemite National Park; view snowy peaks, beautiful waterfalls, and frozen streams; and set up camp at the Riley Creek Campground to view the magnificent northern lights in Denali National Park.

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Wildlife

Contrary to what many people believe, just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean all animals tuck themselves away. Admire elephant seals from December through March at Point Reyes National Seashore; view wolves at Yellowstone National Park; and go birdwatching at Padre Island National Seashore.

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Sunrise

The national parks’ stunning landscapes and architectural designs make the most gorgeous scenery for a sunrise.  Some of the best places in national parks to view the sunrise include Mormon Row at Grand Teton National Park, Pinnacles Overlook at Badlands National Park, Mather Point at Grand Canyon National Park, and Canyon Junction at Zion National Park.

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Dog Sledding

Travel over ice and through snow on a dog sled. Thrill-seekers will want to visit Banff National Park, Glacier National Park, and Denali National Park in the winter to embark on exciting dog sledding tours. The two main types of dogs selected for these tours include Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes.

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Glaciers

Glaciers are bodies of snow that compress into large ice masses over years. They form as snowfall exceeds snowmelt on high mountains. Cracks form in the ice, which cause the glacier to move. This happens due to precipitation and temperature changes. Hurry up and visit Glacier National Park to view some of the largest glaciers in the country before they melt. The park started with 150 active glaciers; today it only has about 25.

Winter Festivals

Many people visit the national parks in the winter to participate in winter sports, but they tend to look past the exciting winter festivals. Attend the Estes Park Winter Festival in Rocky Mountain National Park from Jan. 14 to 15. Demo snowshoes, purchase a Winter Weekend Tasting Pass, and play games with the kids. Also make sure that you visit Acadia National Park for the Acadia Winter Festival from Feb. 10 to 12.

15 Reasons to Visit the National Parks During Winter Instead of Summer