National Park vacations in winter can sometimes sound off putting. For those of us who love the serenity, scenery, and all-round splendor of nature, winter can start to be a drag. Sure, snow looks great on T.V. and from behind the thick curtains of a well-heated house, but it kind of limits options for outdoor activities that don’t include fixing bits of fiberglass to your feet and hurtling down slopes at breakneck speed. Luckily, we’re here to make sure that the whites of a snowy winter don’t make you blue with the best national parks in winter.
Keep reading to find our top five picks for the best national parks in winter!
You might think that National Parks in winter aren’t the most intuitive place to head to for a vacation, but all across the U.S., there are landscapes that offer an escape from dreary, winter twilights. And with free entry just around the corner, thanks to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, there’s no excuse for staying indoors this January!
Explore the best of Big Island! Volcano National Park awaits!
Hawaii must surely be the first choice of destination for anyone trying to forget that it’s winter. Despite being in the middle of the colder period (hooilo), the average daily temperature is still a balmy 78°F (25.6°C). If that doesn’t get your pulse racing, then you should check yourself for the onset of hypothermia.
Not only that, but Volcanoes National Park promises to offer plenty of unique terrain to discover—from jungle trails to volcanic rock. More intrepid glampers can even try a climb up Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes!
Completely immerse yourself in nature and stay in a secluded tree house rental near Volcanoes National Park?
Bryce Canyon: The best of Utah national parks in winter!
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, makes for a captivating getaway in any season, but winter brings a whole new side to this spectacular scenery. One of the top national parks to visit in winter, the rust-red hues of the world’s largest collection of hoodoos (the eye-catching towers of rock) become capped with pure white snow, but the desert climate happily keeps the temperatures from dropping below freezing.
Clear winter skies also bring fantastic stargazing, so make sure to bring plenty of warm clothing to stay warm while taking in the Milky Way.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Winter vacations at their best!
This one is for the snow lovers. If you’re looking to do some incredible skiing or snowboarding this winter, you can’t ignore what Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer. With more than 60 majestic peaks above 12,000 feet high, these Colorado slopes are sure to inspire adventure and get adrenaline pumping.
Come back to warmth and comfort when you stay in this ski cabin rental near world-class ski resorts.
Everglades National Park, Florida
There are some travelers who say that visiting Everglades National Park vacations in winter are actually far preferable to vacations there in warmer months. And it’s not hard to see why—with lower water levels drawing rare local fauna, such as the gray fox and white-tailed deer, with the added bonus of fewer mosquitoes!
Plus, bird watchers are in for a treat, as migratory birds make Florida their home for the cold season.
Death Valley National Park
The hottest place on Earth can swelter in temperatures over 120°F (48.9°C) in summer, so winter is probably a much better time to visit Death Valley National Park, with a daily average of only 70°F (21.1°C).
This is the largest National Park in the contiguous United States, and with low-angled light casting dramatic shadows, this scenery is a photographer’s dream.
Enjoy warm winter nights staying in this traditional tipi rental in the Mojave Desert near Death Valley.