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.
You might think that National Parks aren't the most intuitive place to head to at this time of year, 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!
Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
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!
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park makes for a captivating getaway in any season, but winter brings a whole new side to this spectacular scenery. 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
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 slopes are sure to inspire adventure and get adrenaline pumping.
Everglades National Park, Florida
There are some travelers who say that visiting the Everglades National Park in winter is actually far preferable to going 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.