National parks received a big boost in visitors over the spring, summer and fall, with people eager to spend time outdoors, where social distancing is easy.
But the fun doesn’t have to stop in the winter. While some sections may be closed for the season, you’ll find that there’s plenty of room to explore and activities to enjoy, along with the benefit of smaller crowds.
Here are a few suggestions:
Alaska’s Denali National Park is home to North America’s tallest peak. Whether you want to take a short walk in the woods or a longer adventure on skis or snowshoes, you’ll enter a peaceful world just a few minutes away from the winter visitor center. With short days and long nights, it’s possible to see the stars in Denali from early evening through late morning. And thanks to very little light pollution, the constellations are especially vivid.
Towering Mount Rainier, about two hours from Seattle, is one of Washington state’s most iconic landmarks. The national park that bears its name undergoes a breathtaking transformation during the winter. At Longmire, one of the places open year-round, you can stroll around the Trail of the Shadows to view bubbling mineral springs. Birds, deer and other animals frequent the area even in winter. Carbon River is another area of the park that’s especially enticing. You can hike or snowshoe in a beautiful setting of glaciers and old-growth trees.
Grand Teton National Park is just outside the resort area of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. From mid-December to early March, Teton Park Road is groomed for walking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, with stellar views of the mountains. When you’re ready for a break, you can spend some time exploring Jackson Hole’s unique Western-themed shops and choosing from a wide variety of restaurants.
Of course, visiting national parks in the winter isn’t limited to cold climates.
November through April is a great time to explore the Everglades National Park, at the southern tip of Florida. Humidity is low, temperatures are in the 70s and the park’s wildlife is at its most diverse and most visible. You may see alligators and crocodiles and it’s an especially good time for birdwatching, with many species spending the winter in sunny Florida. There are several ways to see the park, including by driving, bicycling, kayaking and taking a boat tour.
With cooler temperatures, winter is the perfect season to take in the stark beauty and unobstructed skies of the desert at Joshua Tree National Park, in Southern California. If you plan your trip toward the end of winter, you’ll see the vibrant colors of the wildflowers that are starting to bloom. You can discover nature at your own pace, too, whether it’s a leisurely walk along a trail, a more strenuous hike or a horseback ride. Joshua Tree is also a great spot for travelers who enjoy photography, birdwatching and stargazing.
For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor or connect with one through Travel Leaders/Fly Away Travel.