October 23, 2017

10 Great National Parks to Visit this Winter (+ Fee-Free Weekend!)

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Bryce Canyon National Park

It’s that time of year again, time to get into our national parks for free! To mark Veterans Day weekend, the National Park Service is offering fee-free entrance to America’s 398 national parks. So, depending on where you live, break out your hiking boots, snowshoes or even cross-country skis and get out there to enjoy the beauty of our national parks.

America’s national parks are truly one of the last affordable luxuries. They’re perfect for kids when it’s sunny and warm, but they also offer incredible experiences once those big, fat flakes start falling and you need to break out the winter clothes. Take a look at my ten favorite national parks to visit this winter:

Yellowstone National Park: What makes a wintry Yellowstone unique? Bundle up on a snowmobile to easily view bison, elk, wolves and bald eagles.  Plus, as if it needs pointing out, Old Faithful keeps her same schedule all year long.

Yosemite National Park: Wonderland opportunities abound in the shadows of El Capitan with ice skating, snow skiing and overnight cross-country skiing.  This park is a fantastic getaway for winter sport enthusiasts.

Bryce Canyon National Park:  Hiking amongst the red rock hoodoos with puffy, white snow atop is not-to-be-missed and is a breathtaking contrast in the wintertime.

Rocky Mountain National Park:  This is one of the few national parks that allows camping in the front- and backcountry during the winter months.

Zion National Park: Mild southern Utah winters in the desert make this national park great for hikers. The rare seasonal snowfall leaves cliffs of the canyon powder-dusted as a special treat for photographers below.

Great Basin National Park: Explore famous underground caves with smaller crowds and you may even get a tour guide to yourself too. Lehman Caves located in Great Basin National Park remain a constant temperature of 50° F year round.

Channel Islands National Park: ‘Tis the season for whale watching as the humpback whales migrate south for the winter. Just off the coast of the Channel Islands, look for massive whales slapping their tails, and let’s face it, whales are so cool that any kid will worship an epic event like this.

Biscayne National Park: Snow’s not for everyone says this national park in Florida.  Relax in the sun with your pinå colada, snorkel or take a glass-bottom boat tour to see crabs, lobsters and a plethora of fish.

Great Smoky Mountains: Snow tubing! A personal acquaintance local to Gatlinburg, Tennessee declares winter as her favorite time to visit America’s busiest national park. The kids love snow tubing and the roads are less traveled providing more solitude for families.

Olympic National Park: This national park makes my top ten thanks to its three distinct eco-systems. Who doesn’t like options, right? Wild shorelines, stunning rainforests and a winter utopia named Hurricane Ridge, which offers a perfect venue for an array of winter sports.

Do you like to enjoy winter activities in our national parks? Let us know your favorite parks and activities in the comments section below.

Heather Wells is a contributing writer who loves to travel with her husband and three sons. She shares her adventures at The Family Suitcase.

 Photo Credit: OldMan Travels

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