Over the past few years the amount of visitors to National parks have increased due to more people traveling domestically. Here are my top 5 National Parks to visit this winter. National Parks are not something that can only be enjoyed in the summer, but also in the colder months of the year. There are many positives to visiting National Parks in the winter such as smaller crowds, easier to get reservations, and enjoyable temperatures, just to name a few.
Death Valley National Park is located just two hours west of Las Vegas, Nevada or about three hours east of Los Angeles, California. During the summer months Death Valley National Park can get hot and I mean HOT! The highest temperature ever recorded during the summer was over 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
The summer months make it difficult to visit Death Valley National Park. Long days of sunlight beating on your back, and the temperatures are usually over the 100’s make it difficult to enjoy your visit. During the winter months day temperatures are perfect around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures make it perfect to enjoy the unique hikes that Death Valley National Park has to offer.
Although located in a desert, night temperatures can be pretty chilly, even below freezing on some nights. So if you are tent camping be prepared for this.
This is also one of my favorite National Parks to stargaze at. There is very little light from streetlights or buildings, which make the park completely dark. You are able to see stars for miles on the perfect night.
Joshua Tree National Park
A second California National Park to make my list of National Parks to visit this winter is Joshua Tree National Park. Located near Palm Springs this park is great to visit during the winter months because of cooler temperatures.
Similar to Death Valley National Park temperatures can get up to the 90’s in the summer, but the winter months offer much cooler temperatures. December through March you are looking at average high temperatures between mid 60’s and low 70’s. With these perfect temperatures the park tends to be more crowded and camping reservations fill up fast, so make sure to plan ahead.
Joshua Tree National Park offers unique scenery, including well, the obvious Joshua Tree. This is one of the few places that they can be seen in the world. It is also a great place if you want to do any rock climbing or bouldering. I was interested in rock climbing, so I decided to book a tour and try my hand at rock climbing. It is now something that I plan on learning more skills and pursuing in the future.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park tends to be overshadowed by many of the other Utah National Parks. However, during the winter months this park is a must visit. The park is less crowded during the summer and the hoodoos (tall skinny shafts of rock) usually have snow tops on them and a picture perfect moment.
During the winter months snowfall usually closes the trail down into the canyon for safety reasons. There are still plenty of places to drive and get out to walk around a bit. I also recommend visiting the Mossy Cave trail. Although you have to drive back outside of the park, this short trail will take you to a small waterfall, which is usually still flowing in the winter.
Although now one of the busier trails in the park, I had no time finding parking in the winter. I visited Bryce Canyon National Park for two days in the winter, and thought that this was the perfect amount of time. There are many other National Parks to visit in Utah and they can be combined into one trip. If you are interested in seeing more check out my Perfect 4 Day Southern Utah Road Trip.
Everglades National Park
Time to take a break from those west coast parks and head to the east coast. Everglades National Park is a great park to visit during the winter months. Similar to many of the other parks on the list the temperatures are perfect for visiting in the winter months, but plan for a bit more humidity.
Everglades National Park has something for everyone to do, and I mean everyone. Families can enjoy some of the shorter hiking trails and see a portion of the unique wildlife that can be seen such as turtles, and alligators in the park.
Those who are looking for adventure can try slogging, yes you heard that correct slogging. This will get you off the trail and knee deep in the water of the park. You will see a different side of biodiversity than if you were just to hike. This is something that does require a reservation and must be done with a park ranger.
These are just a few of the things that can be done, there are plenty of others such as biking, tours, fishing, etc., check out the Everglades National Park website to find more information on activities.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Of course I had to throw a exotic National Park into the mix. Hawaii is a pretty long flight for most of us in the United States, but a visit to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park can be turned into a week long adventure.
The tropical climate makes it a perfect National Park to visit this winter, but always check the local weather as heavy rains can occur during the winter months. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park offers some very unique experiences that are hard to find anywhere else.
During your time here you can possibly see a volcano erupting, hike through fauna that can not be seen anywhere else, or even camp in the backcountry. If you are not much of a hiker there are plenty of driving routes that have overlooks to get it and enjoy the view.
If you like adventure try sandboarding or sledding down the sand dunes. Boards can be rented on a daily rate from Oasis, which is located right outside the entrance of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Oasis also has a small restaurant, gift shops, and showers (these come in handy if you’ve been camping for a few days!)
Star Dune is located inside of Great Sand Dunes National Park, this is the largest sand dune in North America standing at over 750 feet tall.
Dogs are allowed to join in on the adventure! This is one of the few National Parks that allow dogs off paved trails.
There are numerous National Parks to visit this winter, and this list is just a few of my favorite options. No matter where you are located you can find somewhere nearby to explore. Just because it might be snowing, or a bit chilly doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
So if you’re thinking about visiting a National Park this winter, you should probably book that trip soon to avoid any delays in travel.