Visit your favorite National Park in winter months and not only will you avoid the crowds and mosquitos, but you will also be treated to a winter wonderland missed by fair weather visitors. Winter temperatures make proper preparation and packing a must. Be sure you have plenty of warm clothing, especially warm boots, extra hiking socks, and gloves. You can find more info for each park on their official websites, and you should check with the park and weather services before your visit. So check out our favorite parks to visit during winter and plan your own National Park adventure!
Olympic National Park offers winter visitors a variety of terrains to explore, ranging from snow-covered peaks, temperate rainforest, and ocean beaches. Winter activities include camping, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Plan your day correctly and you can experience winter snow, the waves of the ocean, and the lush green of the rainforest in a single day!
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The Grand Canyon offers winter visitors the contrasting beauty of the red rocks blanketed with white snow. Although the north rim is closed from October to May, the South Rim is open year round and is perfect for hiking popular trails that are normally crowded in the summer. Other activities include camping, stargazing, and guided tours.
Yosemite National Park is a must visit in winter. Be aware some of the park's roads close during winter months, but the roads to Yosemite Valley and Wawona are open year-round. Additionally, Glacier Point/Badger Pass Road is plowed from mid-December through April to allow access to the Badger Pass Ski Area. Although parts of the park are inaccessible during winter there are still plenty of sights to see, trails to hike, and activities like cross-country skiing to enjoy.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the busiest park in the country, making winter a great time to visit and avoid some of the summer crowds! During the cold of winter, bears will be hibernating, but other wildlife is easier to spot since the trees are free of leaves. Sections of the Appalachian Trail pass through the park and make for a great hike or snowshoe adventure depending on snowfall.
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If you aren't a fan of snow or just need an escape from winter weather at home, there are many National Parks located in warmer climates.
Death Valley National Park has a scary name but is actually a beautiful park well worth a visit. Death Valley is the hottest, lowest, and driest location on the planet, the average high during the summer months is over 100 degrees, making winter a more comfortable time to visit. This also means that park attendance peaks during the winter months, so you will still encounter crowds. Popular activities include hiking, canyoneering, and of course, world-class stargazing due to the park's remoteness.
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For those seeking a tropical winter vacation, no National Park beats Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Home to the planet's most active volcano, Kilauea, visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park frequently observe flowing lava. Because of the active lava and gasses that are emitted along with the lava, some areas of the park are occasionally closed for safety, so be sure to pay attention to signs and warning from the rangers. Activities include hiking, camping, and of course, visits to nearby beaches for snorkeling and surfing.
Have a burning desire to see Pele's fire? Talk with park rangers about current conditions, and visit our website www.nps.gov/havo. And remember: Today's the final day of fee-free admission in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Photo courtesy of park volunteer Eric Fandrick.#HVNP100 #FindYourPark #NPWest #LetHawaiiHappen
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Big Bend National Park is located in one of the most remote regions of the great state of Texas. Accessible via 80 miles of 2 lane highway, this park's seclusion makes it one of the least visited National parks and a hidden treasure for the few who make the trip. Activities include hiking, rafting, camping, and epic stargazing.
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Winter is the perfect time to visit Everglades National Park in Florida. Temperatures are cooler, and the mosquitos are fewer. The Everglades is home to ecosystems and wildlife not found at other National Parks including alligators and manatees. Activities include hiking, bird watching, boating, and fishing.
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Planning a Winter Camping or Backpacking Trip to a National Park? Read our 11 Tips for Winter Camping and Backpacking.
Austin lives in the Pacific Northwest where he enjoys hiking and backpacking in the Olympic and Cascade mountains.
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