As social distancing continues to be the norm, many travelers are sticking to road trips and off-the-beaten-path destinations to ensure their health and safety. While the total number of people traveling is still down, there are still plenty of places to visit and things to do.
If you’re looking for a little adventure, consider visiting one of the nation’s national parks. Even in the winter months, many of these parks still stand out as a must-see. With a little extra preparation, witness the snowy, calm transformation of landscapes, plants, and animals.
MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, WASHINGTON
If you’re looking for a perfect place for winter recreation, look no further. With an average of 54 feet of snow every year and ascending to more than 14,000 feet above sea level, you can go sledding, sliding, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, climbing, and camping on this iconic active volcano. If you don’t make it to the top, enjoy hiking through meadows around the bottom of the volcano and forests full of wildlife along the lower slopes.
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, UTAH
While stunning during summer months, Bryce Canyon’s red rock spires are even more breathtaking when icy. They are also the largest concentration found anywhere on Earth, and the high elevations include numerous plants and wildlife, as well as iconic dark skies. A perfect place for stargazing, the park offers astronomy programs and full moon snowshoe adventures in the winter season, as well as a Winter Festival over President’s Day Weekend.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
A classic park to visit when it’s warmer, Yosemite National Park is a must-visit during winter months as well. Snowy mountain peaks, icy waterfalls, frozen streams, and stunning white landscape are sure to amaze. If you’re interested in skiing or snowboarding, make your way up to Badger Pass. Trails are also open for snowshoers, and Merced River has year-round fishing.
LASSEN VOLCANIC NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
Icy lakes, snow-capped volcanoes, and breathtaking stretches of forest and meadow await you at this national park. From October through June, you’ll find beauty and fun with sledding hills, snowshoeing, and backcountry skiing. And, if you’re lucky, the volcano steam vents will be especially smoky, creating a scene unlike one you’ve ever experienced.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, MAINE
Hear the crashing waves and witness the beautiful landscape and wildlife in this spectacular park perfect for enjoying peace and serenity. The highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline are rich in culture, wildlife, and beauty along 150 miles of hiking and trails. If you’re looking for some more activity, try the backcountry ski slopes, ice fishing, snowshoeing, scenic drives, and even dog sledding.
CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK, OREGON
Ideal for skiing and snowshoeing, this park receives over 40 feet of snow each year. Or, try a ranger-led interpretive hike through the mountainous scenery. Formed more than 7,700 years ago when a violent eruption triggered the collapse of a tall peak, it’s the deepest lake in the U.S. and one of the most beautiful on Earth.
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK
If snow isn’t your thing, try heading down to Florida for a different type of winter retreat. Between the wet seasons, the temperature is much more bearable, and you can canoe through mangroves, marshes and flatwoods. View a variety of migrating birds, manatees, gators, and crocodiles in their natural habitat.
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TEXAS
Avoid blistering heat and humidity by visiting this breathtaking park during winter months. Hike around the Chisos Mountains, or relax in one of the natural hot springs near Rio Grande village. With temperatures rarely dropping below the 40s at night, it’s a great place for camping and spending time outdoors.