Each year, millions of people from the U.S. and all over the world visit America’s 59 national parks. Many come during the summer, which is the most popular time for travel in the United States. But plenty of national parks are just as beautiful, and fun to visit, during the winter months.
Here are five national parks in the U.S. that you should consider visiting this winter:
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular national parks in the U.S., and its trails and shuttles can get incredibly crowded during the summer months. The quieter North Rim is only open to visitors from May to October, but the more popular South Rim is open year-round, regardless of the weather.
Visiting the Grand Canyon during the winter means cooler temperatures, great for hiking, and hardly any tourists. In fact, winter is the one season at the Grand Canyon where you won't have to make reservations a year in advance for things like lodging, campsites, or backcountry hiking permits.
Yosemite National Park
Northern California’s Yosemite National Park is another perfect winter option. The park does get snow, and certain roads (like the ones to Tioga Pass and Glacier Point) close during the off-season. But you can still enjoy hiking, snowshoeing, and even ice skating. The nearby Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area (formerly the Badger Pass Ski Area) is also popular during the winter months.
Yellowstone National Park
Of all the national parks on this list, Yellowstone might seem like the one you’d least want to visit in the winter. After all, daytime temperatures are usually below freezing, and most of the roads in the park close to car traffic after the snow starts piling up. Even so, visiting Yellowstone in the winter is a unique experience.
Not only can you enjoy smaller crowds, but you can experience the park on cross-country skis, snowshoes, or snowmobiles. You can also see the geysers and hot springs steaming in stark contrast to the white snow, and you can keep an eye out for some of Yellowstone's winter residents – like bison, moose, and wolves.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Utah’s popular national parks also make wonderful winter getaways. If I had to pick a favorite of the “Mighty 5,” it would have to be Bryce Canyon National Park. Very few people visit the park during the winter months, but Bryce Canyon's rock formations look even more dramatic under a layer of snow.
Most of the hiking trails in Bryce Canyon stay open during the winter to visitors with the proper footwear (no tennis shoes, please!). Park rangers lead full-moon snowshoe hikes each month from November through March.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Finally, don't overlook the smaller national parks. For example, Ohio’s heavily forested Cuyahoga Valley National Park turns into a winter wonderland once the snow arrives. Visitors can enjoy snowy hikes as well as guided snowshoe and cross-country skiing adventures. There’s also sledding at Kendall Hills, and skiing/snowboarding at Brandywine and Boston Mills ski resorts.
Visitors can take a train ride through the park on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The train runs all winter, offering everything from scenic rides to special events like brunches, wine tastings, and a special “Polar Express” program in the holiday season.
Most of America’s national parks remain open all year long – so be sure to visit your local park to see what makes it special during the winter months.
Do YOU have a favorite national park to visit in winter?
*All content provided in this blog is supplied by Amanda Williams and is for informational purposes only. Barclaycard makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
Photo credit: Amanda Williams
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