Travel

The Best National Parks In The Winter

01/06/2017 01:45pm ET | Updated January 11, 2017
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America’s “best idea” – its beautiful national parks – offer visitors a chance to see some of nature’s best work such as lavish forests, jagged summits and deep valleys all year round. These wonders become totally new places – but just as stunning – in the winter when covered in soft snow.

This time of the year transforms the parks into majestic landscapes you have never seen before – vast ranges topped with white powder, dusted trails with no crowds, ice caves and frozen lakes and rivers. Imagine strangely-shaped red pillars against the striking contrast of snowflakes.

How would you like to see Old Faithful’s eruprions when there are just a dozen people there as opposed to hundreds every hour? The lack of people makes the parks even more serene. Add that to the ever-growing list of reasons to visit between December and March. Hot springs against the frigid air and white-coated trees and ice-coated cliffs, contribute to making the national parks a true winter wonderland.

Whatever your reasoning may be, certain places should absolutely not be overlooked just because it’s winter and sitting by the fireplace is warm and comfy. The snow-white seclusion of the season makes for peaceful scenery all over the country.

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Death Valley National Park, California

The Death Valley is famous for being the hottest place in North America. It is, therefore, best to go there in the winter. Most days in this desert are sunny. This is a favorite place for hikers. Most routes in the park are cross-country, up canyons, or along ridges. Camping is another favorite because you have a lot of choices – more than 3 million acres of wilderness and almost 700 miles of backcountry dirt roads.

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Acadia National Park in Maine

Among the standard winter activities, the Acadia National Park offers the especially fun ice fishing and dog sledding or skijoring. If you go to the shores, you can see sea smoke rising from Frenchman Bay. Winter is the season when the Snowy Owls fly over the park, so go to one of the designated sightings to witness the migration of these enigmatic birds.

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Yosemite National Park, California

Rent a snowmobile and explore the scenic land. In wintertime peaks get snowy, and waterfalls and streams freeze. Ice skating outdoors is a family favorite activity. Skiers and snowboarders can easily get to the famous Badger Pass ski area, home to the oldest downhill skiing area in California, as roads are nicely plowed. People can go fishing in the winter in the Merced River. Don’t miss out on going camping in the winter wilderness.

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Arches National Park, Utah

If you want to have an arch to yourself, you must go in the winter. People usually go to the park in the summer, so that means more of this beautiful region just for you and your fellow-tourists. Have you seen arches and red rocks sparkle with ice and snow contrasting the clear blue sky? This natural phenomenon doesn’t happen in a lot of places. Most hiking trails remain open year-round. Ranger-led hikes are not offered in the winter but you can go camping.

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Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Winter looks like wonderland after a snowfall at the Mount Rainier National Park. With fresh white powder and glaciers galore, you won’t want to miss this beautiful scenery. There is always a lot of snow there, which makes the ranger-guided snowshoe walks, camping, snowboarding and skiing all the more fun. Overnight winter camping is a great opportunity relax and enjoy the abundance of snow in the mountain.

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