Top 5 USA National Parks to Visit in Winter

The beauty of the national parks of the USA is that most of them are open to visitors throughout the year. This means that you can often escape the huge summer crowds during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall (which are usually the most beautiful anyway). It also implies, however, that there’s plenty of U.S. national parks to visit in winter. These are my top 5 USA National Parks to visit in winter on your next vacation.

Top 5 USA National Parks to Visit in Winter

With its long nights, dramatic weather and sometimes challenging conditions, winter is North America’s most adventurous season. When snowflakes float down and ice wraps up rocks and trees, humans tend to keep inside. Those who do venture out, though, will find quintessential “winter wonderlands” in America’s parks. If you’re looking for a wintery destination, consider the following U.S. national parks to visit in winter.

5. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park - National Parks to Visit in Winter
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Winter precipitation is why Crater Lake exists. Not having any springs on this extinct volcano, the lake is fed entirely by rain, snow and ice. This makes Crater Lake National Park one of the top 5 USA national parks to visit in winter, a place that receives dozens of feet of snow each winter. When a layer of white covers the crater’s slopes and its iconic island, photo opportunities are endless. Although driving around the lake isn’t encouraged, you can explore the park on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails.

4. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park - National Parks to Visit in Winter
Yosemite National Park, California

Yes, I realize that this probably won’t come as a surprise, but Yosemite National Park is one of the greatest U.S. national parks to visit in winter. This season, when temperatures drop and snow falls, the park features snow-covered mountains, frozen waterfalls and streams, and misty valleys. Hit the slopes on skis or snowshoes, do some fishing, practice your photography skills.

3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana

Yellowstone National Park - Top 5 USA National Parks to Visit in Winter
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

If you’d like to do some wildlife watching in winter, there’s hardly a better place to go than Yellowstone National Park. This enormous park’s variety in landscapes attracts of wild animals this time of year, from American bison and moose to wolves. (Grizzly bears will be hibernating, though.) The park is open all-year round, offering all kinds of winter fun, including snowcoach touring, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and skiing.

2. Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park - National Parks to Visit in Winter
Acadia National Park, Maine

Although it remains open in winter, a rather harsh season in the Northeast, Acadia National Park becomes pretty much deserted (especially compared with the crowdedness of summer). You can explore this stunning coastal park on skis or snowshoes, see waves crashing into rugged coasts in complete solitude, and even catch a glimpse of wildlife among the bare trees. Other activities are ice fishing and dog sledding.

1. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park - National Parks to Visit in Winter
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

It might be super-colorful the rest of the year, but the vibrancy of Bryce Canyon National Park is brought out by snow even more than usual. You can explore its jaw-dropping landscape on foot (or skis or snowshoes), but note that crampons are essential. Additionally, Utah’s clear skies make for world-class stargazing as well.

Have you ever been to any of these U.S. national parks to visit in winter? Do you have another suggestion? Let us know in the comments below!

About Bram


Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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