From tropical islands to winter wonderlands, these sprawling US national parks are brimming with a sense of exploration and wonder. Visit frozen waterfalls and ski down snowy slopes in Montana at Glacier National Park, go snorkeling alongside sandy shorelines at Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park, or hike volcanic landscapes and lava fields at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Just because it might be chilly outside doesn’t mean you need to put a pause on your adventuring. Our epic list of national parks to visit in the winter is full of excellent choices for stunning scenery, gorgeous views, and just plain outdoorsy fun.
Calling all snowbirds! Everglades National Park is bathed in tropical warmth while the Midwest is still caked in snow. Made up of grassy wetlands landscapes, cypress hammocks, and home to abundant wildlife, there is always something wild to discover, here. Pack the mosquito spray and safari shorts for a day full of airboat tours and croc-spotting. When your day’s up, you can retire to the nearby Florida beaches for some R&R in the sand and sun.
Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park is the both the oldest and most popular reserve run by the NPS. To see it without the packed crowds and with a unique, icy twist, why not come in winter? Snowmobiles and snowshoes can be your ticket to the steaming geysers and prismatic spring pools. Enjoy sparkling views dipped in pristine snow from incredible heights and discover a refreshing outlook on the beauty of winter.
A wintertime trip to the Alaskan frontier of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is no small feat. Seriously, this one’s for the Rambos among us. At Wrangell-St. Elias, thermals are a must. Thermometers regularly go 50 under. Snow and ice block all the roads in, so it’s sled dogs and helicopters only. The reward? Complete and utter seclusion.
About 5,000 miles away from the US mainland, one of the main draws of the National Park of American Samoa is its wild remoteness. With acres upon acres of green tropical rainforests, pristine beaches, and coral reefs, National Park of American Samoa is a true hidden gem. A whopping one third of the park’s surface is under water, so look forward to days filled with snorkeling, scuba diving, whale watching, and learning about the 250 coral and 930 fish species that call American Samoa home.
Located within the blissful Gulf of Mexico in Florida and comprising of seven paradise-like islands, coral reefs, and sparkling shorelines, Dry Tortugas National Park is easily one of the best winter escapes in the US. Enjoy snorkeling by the sandy beaches, swim with adorable sea turtles, visit historic landmarks, and discover stunning hiking trails throughout the sprawling tropical park.
Like a fairy tale in real-life, winter is truly a magical season full of sparkling snow, frozen waterfalls, and stunning scenery at Montana’s Glacier National Park. Perfect for the outdoorsy traveler, enjoy cross country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain climbing, and more at this adventurous winter-wonderland.
Can we tempt you with sugar-white Caribbean sands and palm-threaded isles? Thought so. That’s on offer at Virgin Islands National Park, which sprawls across the tropical isle of Saint John with its sailing channels and ancient jungles. If you’re a tee-shirts-in-December kinda traveler, this one’s for you.
This unique park is made up of clear, turquoise-colored waters, dreamy islands, and coral reefs. Located near Miami city, Biscayne National Park is a world of its own. Enjoy boating, diving, enjoying the sunny weather by the coast, or even try embarking on an underwater eco-adventure. With so much history and culture embedded into one tropical paradise, it’s no wonder so many travelers flock to this spectacular park throughout the winter months.
Embrace Cali’s wild side at Channel Islands National Park, encompassing five islands and their surrounding ocean environment. Winter is a dreamy time to explore the park due to its extensive greenery and budding wildflowers. As a plus, plenty of insane wildlife sightings to be had in the early winter. Witness Gray whales, Northern elephant seals, and Harbor seals along with some of the most gorgeous sunsets year-round.
A little slice of paradise, Haleakala National Park is idyllic for travel during the winter, with low 80s temperatures and life-changing scenery. Full of culture and life, the Haleakala National Park features volcanic landscapes, lush rainforests, and plenty of gorgeous hiking trails to explore.
Hawaii’s sunny, paradise-like climate attracts visitors year-round, and what better way to beat the chilly winter than by exploring the breathtaking landscapes and witnessing molten lava break through the Earth’s crust (from a safe distance of course). With rugged coastlines, active volcanoes, rainforests, alpine tundra, and more- Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is easily one of the most fascinating and epic to explore in the country.
Big Bend National Park is exactly that (and like most things in Texas): big. Bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island, as a matter of fact. Bordering Mexico along the scenic Rio Grande River, Big Bend National Park encompasses various climates and a great diversity of plants and animals. Travelers may dream of summer as the best time to cruise the Rio Grande or view the sparkling stars in Big Bend’s famously dark night sky, but winter equals fewer crowds with more temperate climates to fuel a long weekend of exploration.
Winter in the desert means a tee-shirt and light jacket, plus awesome hiking trails to explore while in mild, temperate climates. Located to the east and west of Tucson, Arizona, Saguaro National Park encompasses sprawling masses of the nation’s most impressive cacti: the giant saguaro, gleaming beneath a desert sun. With cooler temperatures beating the intense heat of the summer, there really is no better time to spend the day outside at one of America’s most iconic western terrains.