With the National Parks Service celebrating 100 years of maintaining the United States’ phenomenal collection of protected lands, a roadtrip or tour to these amazing regions are as popular as ever. But with summer sliding away form us ever so quickly, most are giving up on their travel plans, but we’re here to tell you to stop, hold the phone, pack your bags, and get ready prepare yourself for some of the most enchanting winter getaways that Mother Nature has gifted you for the holiday season. Winter may mean snow and rain for most destinations, but us world travelers shouldn’t be deterred by a little “bad weather.”
Actually, “bad weather” doesn’t exist in our vocabulary, which is why we’re ready to experience the following national parks this winter, when the snow and rain only enhance these already fantastic landscapes.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
With places like majestic Grand Canyon and classic Yellowstone, most people forget about Hawaii Volcano National Park, one of the hidden gems of the West Coast National Parks. The Big Island is perfect (and busy) any time of the year, but it also makes a warm winter getaway for those who want to spend the holidays away from the snow. Of course, on a trip here you can’t miss the chance to explore the rain forests and lava tubes that make up the Hawaii Volcano National Park.
Arches National Park
A little underrated and overlooked, Arches National Park is a hidden gem of Utah. Most well known for its dazzling Delicate Arch, the entire park is filled with complex and wind-carved rock formations that are just waiting for you to explore them. Winter brings a good layer of snowfall, forcing out many of the crowds while leaving the trails open for exploration. Make sure to bring snow trekking gear and check the visitor center to trail conditions, but overall be prepared to be amazed at this winter wonderland.
Yellowstone National Park
Its hard not to mention the grandfather of all national parks on any list, and with good reason. Majestic, diverse, lively, and unique, Yellowstone keeps all its traits and then some when snow descends on the geysers and hot springs. The wildlife can still be seen roaming about with thick-hide buffaloes and snow-white wolves. Most roads but the northeast entrance will be closed to the public, but you can still join a snowcoach tour into the park. Plus, its hard to miss up the chance to see snowfall steam off the mud volcanoes and Grand Prismatic Spring.
Everglades National Park
Like Hawaii, Florida is another favorite for a warm winter getaway. You got the holiday cheer in Disney World, warm beaches of Miami, and rich culture riddled throughout the state. And while most tropical destinations might suffer from rainy weather, the Everglades enters its dry season. Gift yourself with an Everglades day trip this year to experience the amazing wetlands of the Everglades this year.
Olympic National Park
The richly diverse national park of Washington has everything going for it: stunning mountains, vast and untouched forests; and stunning ocean beaches. Come winter, this park enjoys a fresh blanket of snow and rain that breathes new life into the region. The gorgeous rain forests of Hoh and Quinault will come alive with fresh green leaves, perfect for a nature hike, while Hurricane Ridge offers snowboards and skiers fresh powder to race through. Olympic National Park tours run year round, letting you experience this amazing park without worrying about the weather.
Banff National Park
Though not a U.S. national park, we have to mention our northern neighbor’s ever popular gem, Banff National Park. We’ve talked a bit about Banff in our Get to Know a City blog, so you know we’re already a little in love with the central town of this amazing national park. With gorgeous mountain peaks, powdery hills that’ll tempt skiers of any level, and a wealth of magical rivers and lakes to explore, what’s keeping you from visiting? And when you get there, make sure to grab your Banff Gondola ticket to see this amazing region from the new observation deck.
We’re not sure why everyone avoids Death Valley, one of the secret gems of the West Coast.
Oh wait, yes we do.
It’s the heat, which reaches well into 120 Degrees Fahrenheit (49 C) over the summer, making it a health risk for most visitors, especially hikers who want to explore its amazing landscape.
That’s why winter is the perfect time to visit, as the park reaches relatively cool temperatures while all the tourists clear out for the holidays. Hikers can beat the crowds and explore this vast landscape in peace. Give into temptation in Las Vegas and grab a Death Valley day trip to cross the Mohave Desert and experience hottest point in the U.S. at the coldest time of year.
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