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15 Best National Parks to Visit in Winter

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  • Alex Faubel

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon’s towering rock formations are reminiscent of another planet. The quintessential red rock spires take on an even more dramatic look when topped with a layer of white snow.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

With extensive snowshoeing trails, ice-climbing routes and even areas for quiet skiing, RMNP offers breathtaking scenery and soaring snow-capped peaks. There are also three open campgrounds for some winter overnight adventures.

Death Valley National Park, California

Considering temperatures easily soar over 100 degrees during summer, this national park makes a much cooler winter destination. The diversity of sights in Death Valley adds to its appeal, with everything from sand dunes to expansive overlooks.

Biscayne National Park, Florida

It’s hard to top Florida in the winter—just ask the hordes of snowbirds. Biscayne National Park is a great escape from harsh winter weather, with beautiful coral reefs and flawless turquoise waters. Take a snorkeling tour or see the park by glass-bottom boat.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

As one of the busiest parks in the nation, Yellowstone’s crowds can be overwhelming, which is why winter is a great time to avoid the mobs of camera-happy tourists. Not to mention, the colorful hot springs look unearthly against a snowy backdrop.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The South Rim section of the Grand Canyon is open year round, making for a great seasonal getaway. Take in the scene from above, and then visit the canyon floor for amazing hiking trails. Even though storms aren’t uncommon, you’re likely to score a few sunny days.

Yosemite National Park, California

The ethereal beauty of Yosemite’s snow-dusted crags is a common theme in the works of bemused poets and artists alike. Enjoy a sunset from Half Dome and breathe in the emotions of this legendary destination—sans the thousands of people that flock to Yosemite in summer.

Zion National Park, Utah

There’s nothing like experiencing the spectacular sunrise vista across Angel’s Landing without another soul in sight. The warm shades of pinks, oranges and purples paint the sky along this celebrated perch.

Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

Mt. Rainier, especially in winter, is a snow lover’s dream. Visit the Paradise area for all the winter recreation you crave, from snowshoeing and skiing to sledding and climbing. Paradise receives an incredible average snowfall of 54 feet annually!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Expect a true winter wonderland among the icy turrets of trees in the Great Smoky Mountains. Winter transforms the park into a scene from Narnia, with walls of white around every corner. Take a hike on the famed Appalachian Trail—just to say you did.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

For the chance to catch a glimpse of the famed Aurora Borealis, this is your winter destination. Temperatures are harsh, but brave souls can witness this once-in-a-lifetime panorama along stunning layers of blue, grey and white glaciers.

Everglades National Park, Florida

Calling all swamp people! The Everglades are a great destination to escape the cold during winter and potentially see some diverse wildlife, from massive alligators and egrets to the elusive Florida panther.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

This sweltering summer destination offers balmier temperatures during winter. Hikers and adventurers can usually avoid the thick patches of wet snow characteristic of many national parks in winter.

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park is a busy destination most of the year, with ATVers and mountain-bike aficionados out in full force. This desert haven becomes dry and hot during summer, so head off the beaten path and take in the iconic Delicate Arch with a light dusting of snow.

Apostle Island National Park, Wisconsin

This park is home to renowned ice caves along the shores of Lake Superior. Truck-sized icicles and chunks of ice cling to the side of the orange rock caverns, creating a photo opportunity straight off the cover of National Geographic.

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