Looking for the ultimate winter family vacation? One of the biggest mistakes tourists make is only planning U.S. National Parks trips during the warmer months. There’s so many great things to do in the winter time the parks, that you’re missing out. I’ve got a list of 6 National Parks To Visit During Winter Months – and just because the calendar says winter doesn’t mean you’ll be in the snow. The peak time to visit these parks, whether north or south, are during the wintertime.
Colder months just happen to be the best time of the year to hit the outdoors. With fewer crowds blocking the views and scenery so unique it’ll get your jaw down to the ground, there’s plenty of reasons to put these epic national parks at the top of your winter bucket list.
Plus, you’ll find so many great activities that kids can do in these National Parks too. With many nationwide schools offering winter breaks beyond Christmas, there’s more travel flexibility than ever before. Whether it’s a quick weekend trip or a big family adventure, it’s time to get outside this winter!
6 BEST National Parks To Visit In Winter
If you’re a National Park newbie, you might want to check out purchasing an “America The Beautiful” National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass. The pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees – for more than 2,000 federal recreational lands. It’s a great deal if you’re planning to visit multiple national parks with in a calendar year – and Florida is the perfect state for that, since some of these are within driving distance.
Families can also download the National Park Services app on their smartphone. It’s full of interactive maps, accessibility information and travel tips. It’s constantly being updated by park rangers and it’s a great tool to have at your fingertips while you’re exploring the parks with kids.
Death Valley National Park, California
While visiting Death Valley National Park during the summer months is not the best idea (it gets scorching hot… we’re talking temperatures in the 120 degrees!), winter is an ideal time to visit this California park. Death Valley is a four-hour drive from Los Angelos and you can easily combine the two destinations into one trip.
Don’t let its name fool you. Death Valley National Park brims with life and there’s no better time in the year to experience its desert magic than winter. It’s also the best time of the year to photograph the desert because there’s less people.
Think eerie-looking rock formations, salt flats as far as the eye can see, and hills splashed with unbelievable color. There have been so many movies that were filmed in Death Valley and you’ll probably recognize certain areas from scenes in your favorite films.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park is pretty much a gem of a place year-round, but during the colder months, the entire national park becomes a winter paradise of snow-capped forests, frozen lakes, and alluring geysers that look out of this world.
Starting in early November, getting to Yellowstone can become a bit of a trek as most roads are closed to traffic and only accessible via special vehicles. Still, though, with a little planning, you’ll be able to enjoy the epicness of this national park in a truly unique way.
One of the easiest ways to experience Yellowstone in the winter, especially traveling with kids, is to sign up for a guided tour vacation. Adventures By Disney offers a Wyoming family vacation that’s full of adventure and everything is planned for you.
If you’re interested in planning your own itinerary, there are so many great Yellowstone lodging options that welcome travelers of all budgets. Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins has several family-friendly lodging options that can accommodate larger groups or multi-generational travel.
Another perk of visiting Yellowstone during the winter? You can take a break from the incredible vistas you’ll find with a ski or snowboarding session in the nearby Jackson Hole.
Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National Park is boasting over two thousand archways that give the park its name, gigantic mesas, and strange-looking rock formations, a visit to this desert wonderland in Utah will make you feel as though you’ve completely left Earth and wandered onto a different planet.
While it does snow in Arches during the winter, it’s not really enough to ruin the day. It’s so doable that it’s just enough for the kids to enjoy. The snow just brings out an epically beautiful contrast of white against the red rock landscape Arches is oh-so-famous for.
Moreover, there’s just something about the winter skies and the dreamy snow-capped La Sal Mountains in the backdrop that make winter sunrises and sunset at Arches something incredibly magical.
Biscayne National Park, Florida
If you’re not the winter traveler who wants to deal with the family and snow, there are options to escape the cold too! Biscayne National Park, in Florida, is just what you’re after if what you’re wanting an escape to the tropics and imagine a winter on a beach.
Located in the Florida Keys, this national park sees sun year-round, but what makes it truly special is the fact that it’s 95% underwater. You can go beneath the surface to explore the magic of this park.
Essentially, have two options: Snorkeling or booking an (epic) scuba diving expedition. If you’d rather not get wet, there’s a secret third option, which involves a glass-bottom boat tour. I love the boat tour if you’re traveling with kids of different swim abilities.
Once you’re done exploring under the waves, you can check out the 5% of the park that’s actually on land and consists of epic little islands that you can explore on foot in search of epic wildlife and unparalleled nature.
As a bonus, there are so many great nearby family-friendly resort options that you can stay at. Even if you’re staying at a different Florida key – you can just drive to the park.
Canyonlands National Park
Picture red rock canyons plastered all over and sandstone spires piercing the sky. Canyonlands National Park is one of the most photogenic spots in the country – located in Utah.
With over 330,000 of land to explore, you can pretty much visit Canyonlands dozens of times and never really get to do the same thing twice. If you’re keen to experience some of its epic desert magic, though, winter is the perfect time to get an excellent introduction.
While it does get chilly during the evenings, visiting Canyonlands during the winter months means fewer crowds, which basically means you’ll get to experience some of the most epic viewpoints. Make sure you plan on a morning sunrise, at Mesa Arch, which is one of the most recognizable photo spots!
Grand Canyon National Park
Imagine one of the USA’s most famous views, but dusted in a layer of snow! If you want to get a truly unique experience at one of the most popular spots in the country, a winter escapade to see the Grand Canyon is a must on your travel bucket list.
While the North Rim closes during the winter, the South Rim (which tends to get super crowded any other time of the year) remains open and gives you the chance to explore some of the most popular hiking trails without the hoards of visitors around.
If you’d rather not break a sweat, you can grab your car keys and drive the scenic road to Desert View or book a flight to get a birds-eye view of the canyon blanketed in snow, which provides for a view you won’t soon forget!
Visiting these national parks during the winter gives you an amazing family adventure. If you love quiet outdoor experiences and would much prefer to have the views all to yourself, then right there is the top reason to pack your bags and hit the road this winter. Waiting to travel until spring breaks is a thing of the past!