2. Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee from 16 National Parks to Visit in the Winter Instead of the Summer
16 National Parks to Visit in the Winter Instead of the Summer
1. Glacier National Park, Montana
The Glacier National Park is among the most famous ones in the country. Its alpine meadows and rugged mountains is what make it perfect to visit in the wintertime. Go on one of the guided snowshoe walks or watch the sunset at Lake McDonald. You can also go camping – auto camping is available at the Apgar Picnic Area and St. Mary Campground. There is no charge for camping in the winter but you need to get a backcountry permit. Popular activities include skiing and snowshoeing trails because some of the most spectacular scenery can be seen by going on these trails.
2. Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee
Ah, those unforgettable Table Mountain Pines covered in snow…The Smokies are completely serene in wintertime. A record number of Elks pass through the mountains then. The wildlife in general is abundant there. Hikes that are not too hard and low elevations provide comfortable conditions for people who are not looking for taxing physical activities. Visit the Cades Cove, a large valley surrounded by mountains that happened to be the most popular destination in the Great Smokies. Another reason to visit in the winter is better prices.
3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The variety of activities you can engage in at Yellowstone during the winter that don’t include skis is so big, it can even be overwhelming. Take a sleigh ride through an elk herd in Jackson Hole or watch wolves in Lamar Valley; how dies a snowcoach tour sound? If you don’t have a Christmas tree yet, why not cut it there? If you feel a bit chilly, then dip in a hot spring inside the park. Camping at Mammoth Campground is another great idea; it is the only one open year-round. Sites for tents and RVs up to 75 feet are available (no hookups). Wonder what it’s like to take care of a national park of Yellowstone proportions? Attend a ranger program then.
4. Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is on a lot of people’s “Places to visit before I die” list. If just want to visit the park once, do in the wintertime. The soft white snow in contrast with the rocks makes one of the most incredible sunsets you’ll ever see. The south rim is open year-round and not a lot of people go. Take a cell-phone audio tour. You can be anywhere on the rim and learn a lot about the canyon. A fun activity is Virtual Caching. Sign up and you will be led to discover a certain location on the rim. Who knows where that will take you…If you’re looking for some of the best lodging options, historical sights and views of the Grand Canyon, head to the Grand Canyon Village.
5. Yosemite National Park, California
Rent a snowmobile and explore the scenic land. In wintertime, peaks get snowy, waterfalls and streams freeze. Ice skating outdoors is a family favorite activity. Skiers and snowboarders can easily get to the famous Badger Pass ski area, home to the oldest downhill skiing area in California, as roads are nicely plowed. People can go fishing in the winter in the Merced River. Don’t miss out on going camping in the winter wilderness of Yosemite!
6. The Everglades, Florida
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You want to go to the Everglades when humidity is low and skies are clear? Go between December and March. You also won’t have to deal with mosquitoes and biting flies. Water levels drop during the winter, which is the dry season there, a lot of different animals assemble around leftover water holes. This makes for on wildlife safari-like experience! This make be the one park that is visited more often in the winter than any other season but opportunities to relax and plentiful. Also, rent a canoe or kayak and make your way to Snake Bight, a shallow bay about a mile east of Flamingo.
7. The Grand Tetons, Wyoming
If there is one place that you would not recognize if you went in the winter and summer, it would probably be the Grand Teton National Park. You can see snow covering the landscape from November to May. Winters are long and can be quite cold but going by places by skiing or snowshoeing is thrilling because many roads aren't easily accessible. Go on a ranger-guided snowshoe walks if you will feel safer. Cross-country skiing is popular and most trails are skier-tracked, but not groomed. Perhaps most thrilling is that people are not restricted to the established trails.
8. Arches National Park, Utah
If you want to have an arch to yourself, you must go in the winter. People usually go to the park in the summer, so that means more of this beautiful region just for you and your fellow-tourists. Have you seen arches and red rocks sparkle with ice and snow contrasting the clear blue sky? This natural phenomenon doesn’t happen in a lot of places. Most hiking trails remain open year-round. Ranger-led hikes are not offered in the winter but you can go camping.
9. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
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Winter looks like wonderland after a snowfall at the Mount Rainier National Park. With fresh white snow, and glaciers galore, you won’t want to miss this beautiful scene. There is always a lot of snow there which makes the ranger-guided snowshoe walks, camping, snowboarding and skiing all the more fun. You won’t see black bears, which are sleeping this time of year, but you can see a fox on the hunt or a fleeing rabbit. Overnight winter camping is a great opportunity relax and enjoy the abundance of snow in the mountain.
10. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon is the most beautiful when it’s covered in snow. So go in the coming months and enjoy a snowshoe planet walk or try some cross-country skiing on the Red Canyon Bike Path. Or maybe rent snowshoes to explore the region; they are provided for free when you go on a hike led by a ranger (that may be the safer option anyway). Because the air and skies are so clear in the winter, astronomy programs are very popular. So are different full moon snowshoe adventures.
11. Denali National Park, Alaska
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Winters are powerful in Denali which makes them a must experience for any snow lovers out there. The park is actually in snow for many months but there is a lot more in the winter and rivers and lakes form an unbreakable ice cover. Go in February for the Winterfest and you will be see some remarkable snow sculptures and ice carvings. The lucky visitors may even get to see the Northern Lights. Stargazing is perfect for the Denali National Park as it only gets about five hours a day of real daylight.
12. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
If you want a scenic adventure, explore the Rocky Mountains in the winter. Backcountry skiing and sledding in Hidden Valley are common among locals and tourists. While you are skiing around, you are most likely going to see many elk deer and moose run around the park. Snowshoeing has become increasingly popular over the years. It’s much easier to explore national park this way as opposed to in the summer when you’re bumping into people all the time and walking is not as gentle as skiing.
13. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
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This park is quite busy this time of year. Winter activities attract a lot families and friends to go camping, and cross-country skiing among panoramic views of the snowcapped mountains. This is another place where lakes are icy, volcanoes are topped with heavy snow and steams become smoky. If you want a challenging ski terrain, this national park is for you. Most of the Lassen Volcanic's backcountry provides unparalleled opportunities. There are very few marked wilderness winter skiing trails.
14. Acadia National Park, Maine
Among the standard winter activities, the Acadia National Park offers the especially fun ice fishing and dog sledding or skijoring. If you got to the shores, you can see sea smoke rising from Frenchman Bay. The winter is the season when the Snowy Owls fly over the park so go to one of the designated sightings to witness the migration of these enigmatic birds.
15. Joshua Tree National Park, California
The Joshua Tree National Park has 792,000 acres of land and most of it is managed as wilderness. This is any backpacker’s dream. Climate in the winter is mild, making the park a perfect adventure destination. You can also go on an 18-mile Geology Motor Tour along a dirt road. Another popular expedition is the Keys Ranch Guided Walking Tour. That’s where rugged individuals tried their luck at cattle ranching, mining, and homesteading. Joshua Tree is a hub for rock climbing fans of all levels – from beginners to highly experienced.
16. Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
The Death Valley is famous for being the hottest place in North America. It is; therefore, best to go there in the winter. Most days in this desert are sunny. This is a favorite park for hikers. Most hiking routes in the park are cross-country, up canyons, or along ridges. Camping is another favorite because you have a lot of choices – more than 3 million acres of wilderness and almost 700 miles of backcountry dirt roads.