Enjoy a winter getaway at a national park
Editor’s note: This content is brought to toy by the Travel Leader’s/Fly Away Travel agency
While national parks are popular places during the summer, they’re also great destinations for a wintertime getaway, whether you want to ski or enjoy some sun. Wherever you go, you’ll find outdoor activities and picture-postcard views.
If it’s an activity that involves snow, you’ll find it at California’s Yosemite National Park. The ski and snowboard area is open from mid-December through the end of March.
In addition to downhill and cross-country skiing, you’ll find snowboarding, snowshoeing, snow tubing and ice skating. Downhill enthusiasts can choose from ten different runs, with options for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers. If cross-country skiing is more of your thing, you can glide along on groomed trails. Adults and children can take lessons at Yosemite’s Ski School, which has been in operation since 1928.
According to the National Park Service, southern Utah’s Bryce Canyon is even more spectacular in the winter, with snow covering the canyon’s spire-shaped red rock formations against the backdrop of a bright blue sky.
One of the best times to visit is during the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival, held over Presidents’ Day Weekend. In 2019, that’s Feb. 16-18. You’ll find cross-country skiing, tours by snowshoe, arts and crafts demonstrations and activities that run the gamut from astronomy to yoga.
In the winter, you can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon National Park in a blanket of snow and without the summertime crowds.
The South Rim, a couple of hours by car from the resort area of Sedona, Arizona, is open year-round. If it gets too cold outside, you can enjoy the view from the panoramic windows in the Yavapai Museum of Geology.
Wildlife, like elk, California condors, bald eagles and mule deer, can be spotted on warmer days.
Of course, visiting national parks in the winter isn’t limited to cold climates. Warm-weather parks also make good wintertime vacation destinations.
November through April is a great time to explore the Everglades National Park in southern Florida. Humidity is low, temperatures are in the 70s and the park’s wildlife is at its most diverse and 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 visit the Everglades, including taking and airboat ride, going on a tram tour, renting bicycles or a canoe, or going on a walk with a park ranger.
With cooler temperatures, winter is the perfect time 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.