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10 BEST NATIONAL PARKS IN WINTER (Beautiful Photos + Video)

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virgin islands national park palm trees
Virgin Islands National Park | Best National Parks Winter

Best National Parks in Winter

The holiday season is lovely and all, but very year come Winter we find ourselves pining for the days of warm Summer.

Sure it’s nice to bundle up, sip warm hot cider, play in the snow, gather round a fire. But what if we want to go someplace where it is warm and sunny?

It turns out there’s a place for that. And it’s right here in your own backyard, the National Parks! We’ve ranked the 10 best national parks in winter 2022.

This list is split up into two sections:

  • 5 National Parks to Escape Winter
  • 5 National Parks to Embrace Winter

Our National Park Ranking Criteria

You’re probably wondering how exactly we chose to rank the 5 best national parks to escape winter. Well, we rated based on a few key factors:

  • Warmth & Sunshine – How warm is the park during the winter seasons and how much sun does it receive. This is probably the main factor in deciding our best winter escapes as it’s what we’re all looking for. Give us that sunshine and turn up that heat!
  • Location – The more exotic the better; make us think of anything other than cold. We’re thinking Mai Tais. With that being said, if it’s relatively easy to get to that’s going to score bonus points.
  • What’s Open – Many parks have facilities that close seasonally, especially during winter. We want parks where all the options are still on the table.

Best National Parks to Escape Winter

5. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Coming in at number five, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is located on the big island of Hawaii. It doesn’t get much better than Hawaii in the Winter.

Warm temperatures with less humidity than Summer, long nights, beautiful sunsets, and fiery volcanic beauty comprise this stunning park.

Visitors to Hawai’i Volcanoes should read up on how the park has changed since the 2018 eruption. Activities include exploring Thurston Lava Tube, seeing the Kilauea Crater, driving the Chain of Craters Road and more!

RELATED: 10+ (JAW-DROPPING) Things to Do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

saguaro national park
Winter National Parks | Saguaro National Park

4. Saguaro National Park

If there’s one thing two things that southern Arizona has in abundance it’s sunshine and cacti, none more famous than the Saguaro whose namesake park (Saguaro National Park) is an excellent place to escape winter.

Sunsets here are worth the trip alone, seemingly lasting hours and filling up the sky with magnificent yellow, orange, and deep purple hues.

In the winter months, average high temperatures range in the mid 60s and sunshine is no stranger!

3. Haleakala National Park

In the remote reaches of the island of Maui in the heart of the Pacific Ocean you will find this tropical paradise.

Here you can journey to the house of the sun and discover ancient volcanoes steeped in legend, rugged mountains, dense rainforests, hidden beaches, and the last wild home to spectacular wildlife.

The park is a feast for the eyes from the coast to the summit and is bound to leave you breathless (quite literally at the summit area).

2. Death Valley National Park

Choosing between the top two best parks to escape winter was a really difficult task for us and could have gone either way but we decided to drop Death Valley at the number two spot this year.

Situated in the Mojave Desert, Death Valley National Park is the hottest place on earth in Summer soaring to temperatures in the 130s! But winter in Death Valley is a different story altogether.

Average winter high temperatures are in the 70s in Death Valley National Park which makes for incredible adventure weather. Despite the morbid name this park has an unbelievable amount of things to see and do as the largest national park in the contiguous united states.

francis bay from america hill ruins virgin islands national park st john
Best National Park in Winter | Virgin Islands

1. Virgin Islands National Park

Nothing quite says forget all your troubles (including cold weather) and relax like the island paradise that is Virgin Islands National Park. With average high temperatures in the 80s in the winter months, it’s nearly impossible to beat this park for a winter escape.

Beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise water, sea turtles, palm trees, abandoned ruins to explore, and more makes Virgin Islands National Park the best to escape winter.

Best National Parks (& Forests) to Embrace Winter

winter grand teton national park

5. Grand Teton National Park

Located in the spectacular Jackson Hole Valley and encompassing nearly 500 square miles, Grand Teton National Park boasts an awe-inspiring array of pristine wilderness, glacial lakes, winding rivers, diverse wildlife, and the magnificent Teton Range.

In winter, Grand Teton National Park takes on a whole new life with the scenery getting a thick coat of white snow. The amount of trails you can easily traverse might be limited but the amount of incredible activities is insane.

moose grand teton national park winter
A Moose in Yellowstone National Park in Winter

4. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is an absolutely spectacular and magical national park. A landscape dotted with otherworldly thermal works, bison holdouts from a time when they ruled the prairie, a thriving wolf population, and an encapsulation of the great American west.

In the winter, Yellowstone National Park transforms completely into a veritable winter wonderland complete with snow-coated bison. While access is severely limited in the winter there are few experiences that rival the majesty of Yellowstone in the snow.

ashley national forest winter, flaming gorge utah, national parks winter
Sunrise at the Flaming Gorge | Ashley National Forest

3. Ashley National Forest

The Ashley National Forest is tucked away into the top right corner of Utah and is one of the lesser-visited pieces of public lands in the state. But don’t let that stop you from visiting this incredible place.

In the Ashley visitors can explore stunning gorges, incredible valleys, sprawling forests, red deserts, and beautiful meadows in this remote and beautiful landscape.

In winter, the red rock landscape is coated with white making for a stunning contrast. With the few amount of people who visit you’ll feel like you’ve got it all to yourself.

uinta wasatch cache national forest, best national parks winter
Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest Sunrise

2. Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Massive mountains, beautiful valleys, lush forests, deep canyons, and pristine meadows make up the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. This place is home to some of north America’s most treasured animals and landscapes.

In the winter, the UWC is a mecca for skiers who travel from all over the world to experience the epic slopes of the canyons here.

tumalo mountain deschutes national forest winter
Tumalo Mountain Sunrise | Deschutes National Forest in Winter

1. Deschutes National Forest

The Deschutes National Forest is possibly the most diverse in the entire system (of 155!).

Travel to a land sculpted by ancient volcanoes, where crystal blue rivers carve their way through primeval forests, towering mountains give way to lush valleys and pristine lakes, and deep below the surface lie vast networks of cavernous wonders.

In the winter the Deschutes is one of America’s most breathtaking playgrounds with every winter activity imaginable available here.

Best National Parks in Winter: Our Conclusion

best national parks in winter
The Pattiz Brothers at Flaming Gorge, Utah

That’s a wrap folks! Hopefully you feel like you’ve got a good handle on your next trip to to the national parks in winter. Please leave me a comment below and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Hope to see you on the trails sometime soon!

The 10 Best National Parks (& Forests) in Winter 2022

  1. Virgin Islands National Park
  2. Death Valley National Park
  3. Haleakala National Park
  4. Saguaro National Park
  5. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
  6. Grand Teton National Park
  7. Yellowstone National Park
  8. Ashley National Forest
  9. Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
  10. Deschutes National Forest
Will Pattiz

Co-founder of More Than Just Parks. Husband. Conservationist. Currently living in NYC.

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