Outdoor

Your information to visiting nationwide parks in winter

National parks were some of the hottest US destinations during the spring, summer, and fall, with a number of locations receiving record visits. As temperatures dropped, their popularity showed no signs of slowing. There are many benefits to visiting these parks in winter – less crowds, more wildlife, and the chance to see their iconic landscapes in a new light. With the right upgrades for cold weather car camping, you can take advantage of easy-to-book campsites or check-in at a nearby Airbnb. To make your way there easier, we’ve put together a few tips for nearly a dozen national parks that are ideal for visiting this time of year. From soaking in the hot springs at Big Bend to cross-country skiing at Rocky Mountain. In addition to a link to read our comprehensive guide.

Yellowstone

(Photo: milehightraveler / iStock)

While most of the park’s roads are closed from late fall to late spring due to snow and sub-zero temperatures, Yellowstone’s headquarters are in Mammoth Hot Springs (near the north entrance in Montana) and Highway 212 from Mammoth to Cooke City (on the east Entrance). in Wyoming) are open year round. Highway 212 crosses the Lamar Valley, where some of the best wildlife viewing in the park can be found. The rest of Yellowstone will open to overnight trips on skis, snowshoes, snowmobiles, or snow coaches in mid-December – vehicles with tank-like tracks instead of wheels. Only two hotels are open for accommodation, Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins. However, visitors can camp with a backcountry permit that is free in winter. (One benefit of sleeping outdoors at this time of year: the grizzlies hibernate.) Wolf watchers prefer winter when deep snow ensures good tracking and visibility. – Frederick Reimers

You can find our full guide here.

Zion

Zion Canyon winter(Photo: pabradyphoto / iStock)

With 4.5 million people visiting this Utah park each year, most of whom come in the spring and fall months and avoid summer when the canyon is sometimes triple digits, winter offers a respite from both the crowd and the crowd also from the heat. December to February is the park’s off-season, with temperatures between 50 and 30 degrees (including freezing nights) and frequent rainfall. But the brave souls who persevere are rewarded with the contrasting splendor of stark white snow that adorns bright red cliffs. While some of Zion’s elevated roads (including Kolob Canyons Road and part of Kolob Terrace Road) close when snowfall accumulates, Zion Canyon remains open for business. – ShawntĂ© Salabert

You can find our full guide here.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park Guide(Photo: miroslav_1 / iStock)

Hearty locals and curious visitors ride this Southern California park year-round (even during the sultry summer season when temperatures often reach 100 degrees) but during the temperate fall and spring months, when the range is between 50 and 85 , the crowds swell in degrees, only submerging in the harshest winter conditions when it can get up to 35 degrees. The months of December and January are full of mercury: one day you play a lizard on a sunny rock, and the next day you are wrapped in a pile of down. Levels are key. Biting winds, rainstorms, and snow showers are not uncommon, but the perk for those prepared for the sensitive elements is that cold temperatures and rainfall keep the larger off-season crowds at bay (although you may be on trails or not all alone Warehouse). – SS

You can find our full guide here.

Big bend

Big bend(Photo: Dean_Fikar / iStock)

While temperatures in this tip of Texas are mild and the days from November to February are often sunny, nighttime conditions can vary from sub-freezing to 80 degrees during the day. So bring layers and sunscreen with you. In winter there is a bizarre temperature reversal here, as the cold air settles in the valley around the Rio Grande and the warmer air occupies the higher Chisos basin. It goes without saying that a visit to the hot springs is a must during these cooler months. – Abraham Averill

You can find our full guide here.

Rocky Mountain

Rockies(Photo: Aaron Tindall / iStock)

If you really want to get away from the crowd and don’t want to worry about the teenage temperatures, winter in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is your jam. Trail Ridge Road, the only road that crosses the park, is usually closed due to snow from late October through May, while avalanches are a problem and snow depth affects access to the trail. Many of the park’s back roads, such as Old Fall River Road and even portions of Trail Ridge Road, become cross-country skiing and snowshoeing playgrounds in winter. There’s even an abandoned ski area, Hidden Valley, which is on the east side of the park and attracts tobogganers and skiers. Grand Lake, the city on the west side of the park, has a true Nordic center with 22 miles of groomed trails. – GA

You can find our full guide here.

Death valley

Death Valley National Park(Photo: Michael Ver Sprill / iStock)

Unlike most national parks, winter is the high season for Death Valley, which stretches across the border between California and Nevada. But there is plenty of room to roam in 3.4 million acres, most of which are described as wilderness. The months of November to February bring cooler temperatures between 40 and 77 degrees as well as potential snowfall at high altitudes. Despite the general drought in Death Valley, winter precipitation is most likely. Due to the topography of the area, heavy rainfall can prove dangerous. So be sure to check the weather conditions before you set off. – SS

You can find our full guide here.

Everglades

Everglades(Photo: Jaimie Tuchman / iStock)

There are two main seasons in the Florida Everglades: wet and dry. April through October is so hot and humid that even short trips can be made, and some park facilities, such as the remote Flamingo Visitor Center, are only temporarily occupied. The dry season, which runs from November to March, can be idyllic and mild, with lows in the 1950s and highs in the 1970s. You will also see fewer mosquitoes and lots of wildlife during these months. – Tony D’Souza

You can find our full guide here.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Snow 2(Photo: Dawn Richards / iStock)

The vintage cabins and restaurant at Phantom Ranch, a 1920s country-style lodge at the foot of the Arizona Grand Canyon, are a must-see bucket list for many and usually require a lottery to secure a stay . However, cancellations are more common during the winter season. Avid backpackers can often get last minute camping permission at the famous Bright Angel Campground and enjoy the sunny weather near the Colorado River (it’s shockingly 20 degrees warmer than the edge). If you don’t want to hike nearly 5,000 vertical feet to the bottom of the canyon, simply take in panoramic views from the park’s year-round South Rim on the family-friendly Rim Trail, which stretches from the stunning South Kaibab to the stone ruins at Hermits Rest

You can find our full guide here.

Volcanoes

National parks(Photo: swissmediavision / iStock)

This is Hawaii so the weather doesn’t vary much from month to month. The average temperatures are between 66 and 85 degrees all year round. During the winter months, it snows on the Island of Hawaii – on the peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea – but that probably won’t affect your visit. Unlike other US national parks, which have seen an influx of visitors at certain times of the year, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is year-round thanks to the island’s excellent weather and temperate climate. – Catherine Toth Fox

You can find our full guide here.

If you visit Arches or Canyonlands: Moab

moab(Photo: Daniel Holz / Tandem)

While this Utah outpost shines in the off-season – spring and fall, when the weather is at its best and temperatures are at its best – it also has its winter attractions. For example, a January trip may include backcountry skiing in the nearby mountains of La Sal and biking on sun-kissed slickrock trails on the same day. – Nick Heil

Here is our full guide to getting that starting point.

Main photo: suesmith2 / iStock

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