When the onset of winter comes, most people (including myself) are looking forward to staying warm indoors, cozying up on the couch, and enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be a hermit during the winter, but there are plenty of things you can do outdoors to enjoy yourself as well, such as visiting national parks!
If you have the time and ability to travel, or are simply looking for something fun and exciting to do this winter, go outside of your comfort zone and visit these national parks!
National Parks – Rocky Mountain National Park
If you love the cold weather, you will thrive in Rocky Mountain National Park. With over 60 snow-capped mountain peaks above 12,000 feet, this national park is perfect for doing all sorts of fun winter activities, such as ice climbing, winter mountaineering, snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, and much more. One of the park’s popular areas is Hidden Valley, which is a fun place for people of all ages. According to an article by Trip Savvy, “Deep snow buries rocks and logs creating a safe and fun area for sledding. The valley makes anyone feel like a kid again and is often the scene of snowball fights, rides on toboggans, and snowman building.” If you happen to be out west by Colorado, be sure to make a pit stop to this national park!
National Parks – Grand Canyon National Park
People usually visit the Grand Canyon during the warmer seasons of spring and summer, but this national gem is beautiful during the winter as well. One of the perks of visiting the Grand Canyon during the cooler months is you don’t need to deal with nearly as much congestion and tourists as you would during the spring or summer. Additionally, the temperatures are milder which means no sweating or misery in the heat! Instead you can enjoy the beautiful sites of the canyon without wanting to seek out air conditioning after. Around this time you can catch gorgeous views of the sky, painted pink and purple, as well as the snow-dusted canyon and plentiful wildlife such as elk, mule deer, and ravens.
Valley Forge National Historical Park
If you love history and traveling around the country, this one is for you. A park that is close to home for me, Valley Forge National Park isn’t necessarily known for its jaw-dropping views and attractions, however, it does have deep historical roots that make the trip worthwhile. Located in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (a short ways outside of Philadelphia), Valley Forge is known as one of the significant military encampments for the Continental Army (commanded by George Washington) during the Revolutionary War. After the British captured Philadelphia, Washington and his army camped at Valley Forge from December 1777 to June 1778. At the park, you can enjoy beautiful trails, learn the history of Washington and his army, view interactive stories, and much more.
Yellowstone National Park
Similar to the Grand Canyon, the bulk of visitors to this popular national park travel during the warmer months of spring and summer. If you can tolerate the chilly temperatures, Yellowstone National Park is one of the most beautiful parks to visit during the winter. There are Geysers, fumaroles, and hot springs, which is a nice contrast to the frigid snow and ice that encompass the park. You can ski, go on guided snowmobile tours, and enjoy the views at one of the many warming huts around the park.
Olympic National Park
Among travelers and visitors of our country’s national parks, Olympic National Park in Washington always lands at the top of the favorites list. According to Nicole Dossantos of the Active Times, Olympic National Park is popular “due to its unique combination of three distinctive environments: the mountains (heavily glaciated despite modest elevation), a coast laced with rock formations called sea stacks, and a rainforest where every available inch is covered with growth.” At Hurricane Ridge, you can enjoy snowboarding, skiing, showshoeing, and tubing. If you don’t feel like going in the snow, you can walk along the beach of the Pacific Coast or view the beautiful rain forests!
Have I made you want to crawl off of your cozy couch yet? These beautiful national parks are great places to visit during the winter season. Take a trip, go outside of your comfort zone, and have fun getting out of your normal hot chocolate and Netflix routine!