With over 60 national parks in the U.S., you have tons of options for a winter getaway. Some parks provide a scenic winter wonderland setting and opportunities to snowshoe and enjoy other cold-weather activities. Other parks offer a perfect getaway in the off-season, with mild temperatures that are more comfortable for exploring the outdoors. Winter, in general, is considered the off-season for many national parks, which means you can expect fewer crowds. When you’re planning a winter getaway, consider these winter vacation spots in the United States.
6 Perfect Winter Vacation Spots United States
Death Valley National Park, CA
Visiting this famous national park in winter means you don’t have to worry about scorching heat. Death Valley National Park is a top winter destination among national parks, since it offers a much milder time to hike through the area. Nights get chilly during this time of year, but daytime temperatures tend to stay on the cooler side. Hike, bike, or take horseback rides through the park, while enjoying views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains. The park has a wide range of campgrounds, including primitive, designated, and private campsites. Backcountry camping is another option. Death Valley National Park also has lodgings within the park, including Stovepipe Wells Village, Panamint Springs Resort, and The Oasis.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
For a national park that offers wintry weather without extremes and tons of outdoor and indoor activities, head to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park gets a good helping of snow and ice, which offer beautiful views, but temperatures are typically mild as mountain winters go. Visiting in winter gives you plenty of space to enjoy the park without having to make your way through crowded trails and attractions. Gatlinburg, the gateway town to the park, offers winter skiing and other snowy activities. Gatlinburg and nearby Pigeon Forge are packed with family-friendly attractions for in-town adventures. Throughout the area, enjoy scenic drives practically everywhere you go, or try fishing near frozen waterfalls and other outdoor activities within the park itself. Rent one of the hundreds of luxury Gatlinburg cabins, with fireplace and hot tub, to stay warm and cozy after a day of outside adventures.
Mount Rainier National Park, WA
Snow-capped peaks and dramatic landscapes make Mount Rainier National Park a winter wonderland destination. Go snowshoeing through the park, or explore it on snowmobiles. Cross-country skiing in remote areas is also available. Head to Longmire to visit mineral springs and other scenic sights, or go snowshoeing or hiking in the Carbon River area in the northwestern corner of the park. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including foxes and deer. Check the status of roads throughout the park during your trip, since many are closed in winter. Set up camp for a winter camping experience, or book a stay at one of the park’s inns, which include Paradise Inn and National Park Inn.
Everglades National Park, FL
The swamp-filled terrain of Everglades National Park offers a more comfortable place to visit during the winter months. It’s only an hour away from Miami, but in a totally other world. Visiting in what is known as the dry season, you won’t have to spend all your time swatting away mosquitoes or dealing with other bugs in winter. Low humidity and clear weather provide a great chance to explore the park’s 1.5 million acres of tropical and subtropical terrain without having to worry about thunderstorms. Unlike many other national parks, the Everglades are a popular spot for winter trips, so don’t be surprised to see more visitors than you might expect. Guided tours, fishing, boating, and bird watching are just a few activities to enjoy during winter vacations in the Everglades. For accommodations, the park offers backcountry camping with a permit.
Yellowstone National Park, WY
Located mainly in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park is a top destination during the summer months. Winter trips mean you can avoid the crowds, but keep in mind that some services are limited this time of year. Take a guided tour of Old Faithful, go skiing and snowshoeing, and take advantage of the warming huts that are found in certain areas of the park. Temperatures tend to be below freezing, even during the day, so pack and plan accordingly. You’ll need to book a stay at lodgings in the park or just outside of it, since there aren’t any campgrounds open in winter. Lodgings in the park include Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Old Faithful Snow Lodge.
Arches National Park, UT
Visiting Arches National Park in winter gives you an opportunity to see the famous red arches with a light coating of snow. Although the park is in southern Utah, temperatures often get cold enough for snow. Daytime temperatures are usually in the 30s or 40s, while nighttime temperatures generally fall below freezing. Services in the park are limited during winter, and roads can be slippery. However, winter trips to Arches are also less crowded compared to summertime. Gaze at the stars on clear winter nights, and hike under the towering stone arches during the day. Devils Garden Campground offers 25 first-come, first-served campsites that are open throughout winter.