9 Must-See National Park Winter Wonderlands

Travel Lists
Share Tweet Submit Pin

The National Park Foundation just released the sixth special edition in its popular Owner’s Guide series, which, according to the NPF site, “is a one-stop resource to discover all of your over 400 national parks.” This volume is named Winter Wonderlands. In it readers are encouraged to visit 15 spectacular national parks with snow-covered scenery and plenty of winter-inspired activities. It also provides general driving directions for navigating to each park.

Because visitation to national parks typically declines in the winter months, the NPF guide facilitates your escape to white solitude and an epic winter adventure. Visit the site, grab a parka and step into your snowshoes and prepare for a sight straight out of Frozen.

We’ve included brief summaries about nine of our favorites here. You can read more about the others once you’ve downloaded the guide from the site.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

This park (see image above) holds a winter festival every February during President’s Day weekend where visitors can embrace astronomy with some incredible views of the sky. Ranger-led night programs with telescopes and the works are offered, but you will need reservations for many of the activities. Need a place to stay? Check out the popular Ruby’s Inn, right outside the north entrance to Bryce Canyon. While you’re there, find your zen by signing up for a yoga class or take a risk and enroll in an archery competition.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia.jpg
Photo via National Park Service

We know what you’re thinking. Inland Maine winters bite … hard. And you’re right—but the coasts are much milder, making this park the perfect winter escape. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hop on a pair of skis and high-tail it down the 40 miles of carriage trails (originally built by John D. Rockefeller), leading you right up to one of multiple ponds, where you can try your hand at ice-fishing. Though many facilities are closed for the season, the Winter Visitor Center at park headquarters will welcome you, along with popular sites along Ocean Drive. Nearby Bar Harbor offers travelers comfortable lodging and equipment rentals.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

grand canyon.jpg
Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon’s crowded chaos slows down a bit in the cold season. The North Rim is closed for the winter, but the South Rim is open all year. Feel like roughing it in the low temps? You can get a much lower rate on campsites in the winter—or at various lodges if you’d rather not be a human Popsicle. Hikers can take an icy journey along the famous Bright Angel Trail, and the history lovers can trek to El Tovar Historic Hotel to hear about the canyon’s deepest secrets.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Snowshoers and skiers are really psyched when the Lassen Volcanic Highway closes to the public. The reason: once the cars are cut off, this park becomes a winter-sports haven. From mid-November to late March, skiers, sledders and snowshoers come together to roam the miles of solitary wilderness. Beginners can head out to Manzanita Lake and practice on a number of slopes until they’re ready for the big leagues. Afterward, you can join ranger-led walks where you’ll learn all about ecology and winter survival.

Recently in Travel