Article Overview: Best National Parks to Visit in February
The best national parks in the February range can take you to the beach or snowboarding, depending on what you like. We’ve spent weeks – not just a few days – at many of these parks. We know what tracks and what places to avoid.
Keep in mind this list isn’t a countdown. It’s a grouping of what we think would appeal to everyone from sun-seekers to extreme skiers. We also have a wide reach, meaning whether you’re a first-time skier or like to hang from ice cliffs with an ice ax – you’re all welcome here.
Each park has additional articles that go more in-depth if one piques your interest. We don’t want to waste your time. At the same time, we want to offer the resources to help you dive deeper into the national parks that shine in winter.
Feedback? At the bottom of this page is our comment section. We’d love to know what great (or not-so-great) experiences you’ve had at a park in February to help others. We’re all about everyone celebrating public lands together. We just start the conversation.
Table of Contents: Best National Parks to Visit in February
Table of contents: Best National Parks in February
- Top National Parks for Winter Activities
- Warmest National Parks in February
- Top 5 Overall Best February National Parks
- Map of Best National Parks in February
- List of Best National Parks in February
- Most Romantic Park Spots in February
- Pin Best National Parks in February
- Helpful Related Links
Top National Parks for Winter Activities
The caveat for winter in national parks prone to snow is that too much of a good thing can close down roads. Ice storms, avalanche risks, and limited visibility risks scare some people off.
For those looking for fresh powder, ski, snowboard, snowshoe, or simply soak in the serene splendor at one of these national parks in February.
5. Olympic National Park in February
The variety shines at Olympic National Park as much in winter as in summer. One of the biggest draws for Olympic National Park in February sits a mile high at Hurricane Ridge. Whether you want to tube with friends or get a ticket to Hurricane Ridge Ski & Snow Area, you’ll enjoy the best of winter’s bounty.
Don’t forget the many Olympic National Park winter hikes, from ranger-guided snowshoe strolls to the challenging ascent up Hurricane Hill.
Another option includes walking through the rainforest, which rarely gets below freezing. Waterfalls stay robust at Olympic National Park in winter; the rainy season drops more than 18 inches on average.
The storms that bring the rain and snow churn the waves on beaches for yet another ecological zone to explore.
4. Glacier National Park in February
Going to Glacier National Park in winter requires a gut check. How prepared are you to handle a park with few amenities but miles and miles of deep snow-covered trails? Keep in mind that the snow can be up to 30 feet deep by the end of winter – 80 feet at the Big Drift.
Experienced and advanced outdoor winter travelers will simply love the solace of Glacier and the lack of crowds.
While Going-to-the-Sun Road closes beyond Avalanche Creek, part of the roadway is left unplowed for winter activities beyond Lake McDonald Lodge.
Vendors offer Glacier National Park winter tours if you lack the experience to go it alone. These winter tours in Glacier offer extreme options for those who want to do activities like ice climbing.
Here are the three backed by NPS.
3. Grand Teton National Park
If I had to choose between Grand Teton and Yellowstone in February, I’d go with Grand Teton. Here’s why – you get all the winter activities inside the park. Then, the proximity to Jackson and its unique winter charm is unparalleled.
Inside the park, wildlife abundance and twice-a-week ranger tours in the snow give you a new perspective on this popular park. February also brings the smallest crowds of the year. Big horn sheep outnumber people this time of year. Skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling round out the most popular activities.
Consider parlaying a Grand Teton trip in February with a Yellowstone trip. The winter season kicks off annually on December 15. That brings a slew of activities those busy summer crowds never see. Numerous guided tour operators await to plan the perfect winter trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton if you’d like.
2. Rocky Mountain National Park in February
Rocky Mountain National Park in winter offers everything you want in a February getaway. Snow-cloaked trails with only the whoosh of skis or the crunch of snowshoes make it feel quite magical. Plus, with a snowy season that lasts so long in the Rockies, you enter the heart of winter.
Keep in mind that March and April bring the most snow to the Rockies. February still gets up to a foot on average.
Nearby Estes Park offers all the rental gear you need. Whether you’re sledding Hidden Valley’s hills or trekking up Deer Mountain in feet of snow, these mountains define winter sports.
At the end of a long, cold, snowy day, some of the most epic mountain resorts wait for you to sit by the fire.
Dive deeper into Rocky Mountain National Park in Winter:
PROTECT YOUR EYES: The sun reflecting off the snow causes damage to the eyes. For people like me who have astigmatism, use these solar goggles to help.
1. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park in February mirrors many of the benefits we’ve noted above. However, the one thing that separates Yosemite from the rest in February is Horsetail Fall.
A fiery waterfall drops at sunset from the top of El Capitan – when conditions are just right. In fact, trying to see the Horsetail Fall (also known as Firefall) now requires reservations on February weekends.
The Firefall could also be a reason to avoid Yosemite if you don’t like crowds. Expect traffic, road closures, and huge crowds around sunset daily.
It’s worth noting that John Muir, the Father of National Parks, never wrote of the Firefall in Yosemite. Could it be that you will see something he never had the chance to view?
Warmest National Parks in February
Kick off those snow boots and grab your hiking boots and flip-flops. The warmest national parks take us to several locations, including one of the least visited national parks.
5. Big Bend National Park
To experience a mild winter, head to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. The park also shares nearly 120 miles with Mexico. You can cross the border to the (safe) town of Boquillas from inside the park.
Peak visitation at Big Bend comes in March, so enjoy the less-crowded February trails. You get three ecosystems in one park, the Chisos Mountains, the Rio Grande River, and the Chihuahuan Desert.
Suffocating daytime summer highs in Big Bend don’t afford the luxury of long hikes. You can do all that in winter. The Langford Hot Springs stays open in winter – like a natural hot tub!
Finally, Big Bend National Park’s night skies are the darkest in the contiguous U.S. park system. You’ll need layers, but the views are worth it at this International Dark Sky Park.
4. Everglades National Park
February brings one of the busiest months at Everglades National Park in South Florida for good reason. File it under “IYKYK” because the beastly summer heat and humidity make it hard to stomach. As a bonus, no risk of hurricanes this time of year either. In fact, February is the dry season in South Florida.
Wildlife activity increases this time of year, and you’re all but guaranteed to see a gator sunning itself on a shore. Take trails by water or land; maybe hop on an airboat tour and explore the passageways that weave through the subtropical wetland.
Overnight camping in the wilderness is ideal in February with low humidity and even chilly nights.
3. Dry Tortugas National Park
Now we come to one of the least visited national parks but one that also sells out months in advance. Dry Tortugas National Park sits off Key West on a series of islands, making it one of the best national parks in February to escape to the islands without the high price of traveling to the tropics.
Cruise calm seas from Key West to Fort Jefferson, an imposing Civil War-era fort rising from the ocean. Epic snorkeling and diving opportunities pepper the beaches and waterways, including shipwrecks and vibrant coral reefs.
February’s weather in Dry Tortugas is dry, sunny, and warm, with temperatures in the mid-70s. Most guests treat this as an out-and-back day trip due to limited campsites.
If you plan to camp, you’ll need to take a special ferry through Yankee Freedom. That’s just one of several nuances about visiting this stunning park. Check out the story below for all those details.
2. Biscayne National Park
Another watery wonder awaits in Florida, this one on the east coast of the state just south of Miami. It’s one of the best national parks in February for those who need some beach time!
Biscayne National Park is 5% land with the rest of the 270 miles of perfect blue ocean water. Biscayne National Park holds the honor of being the largest marine park under the NPS umbrella.
I highly recommend splurging on a rental boat (with or without a captain, depending on your boating skills). You’ll get to explore the key and the water. Dive or snorkel around the coral reefs or climb the Boca Chita Lighthouse, 65 feet up.
Even just sticking to the mainland includes beautiful beaches, a paddling trail, and stunning sunrise spots. Night skies and the moonrise would make a perfect stop on the way back from Dry Tortugas National Park.
1. Hawaii’s National Parks
February brings the most tourists to Hawaii, so what you’ll gain in crowds you’ll make up for in it not being winter here – ever.
Hawaii’s two national parks are Hawai’i Volcanoes, on the Big Island of Hawaii, and Haleakala, on Maui. Here at More Than Just Parks, we can’t get enough of Hawaii’s influential role in the park system. We’ve been several times and are planning another trip. Check out our movies for each park to get a high-definition look at these wonders!
At Hawaii Volcanoes in winter, you’ll walk among the most active volcanoes on the planet. Lava pours while you walk on bubbles of cooled rock. Add in the coastline and rare wildlife – it’s mind-blowing.
Then at Haleakala, you can go from the coastline to the summer, more than 10,00 feet above. Waterfalls and lush forests line the way. Up top, Haleakala Crater Trail remains one of the most bizarre hikes of my life. I tell you about it here.
Is Maui Open?: Yes. As Maui recovers from the wildfires of 2023, island travel and tourism support is welcome. You are asked to respect and avoid the places impacted by the fire, especially Lahaina.
Top 5 Overall Best February National Parks
You could call these national parks in February our “Best in Show.”
5. Yellowstone National Park
For all the belly-aching about “so many roads are closed at Yellowstone in winter,” there sure are many roads open in Yellowstone. Just not in the way you’re used to the rest of the year. Yellowstone kicks off the season with the “Winter Opening Date,” which is usually December 15.
Also, with so many winter tour options in Yellowstone, chances are a shuttle will scoop you up at the hotel and bring you back.
By February, enough snow falls to make all trails and “roads” ready for snowmobiles, skis, tour buses, and sleighs. This side of Yellowstone’s personality also brings out unique wildlife tours. See moose munching in the woods or wolves darting across fresh snow.
Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs stay available in the winter, and the park offers warming huts to get out of the elements.
4. Saguaro National Park
Just outside of Tucson, Saguaro National Park makes a perfect February national park trip day and night. You’ll arrive before the peak season, but still get temperatures in the 70s or 80s.
The trails weave through mountains that the Saguaro cactus calls home. The iconic shape and “arms” of the Saguaro make it well-known, but the cactus exclusively calls the Sonoran Desert home. That leaves this as the ONLY place on earth for viewing them up close.
In August of 2023, a powerful “blowdown” occurred in Saguaro, knocking more than 1,200 Saguaros right off their stumps. The devastation remains while park officials study the shocking event.
Chilly nights require a hoodie or jacket for stargazing. Saguaro National Park ascended to the ranks of Urban Night Sky Place in late 2023.
The Pattiz brothers spent several weeks filming and I used to live in Tucson. We’ve put together these resources to help you plan.
DESERT AT NIGHT TIP: Red flashlights help reduce light pollution when viewing the night skies, but here’s one more recommendation. Scorpions glow in blacklight. Before you sit down on a rock or log, use the blacklight to spot them.
3. White Sands National Park
February at White Sands National Park delivers perfect adventure weather. Highs sit comfortably in the 70s, with refreshing nights in the 40s.
And, OMG, those night skies. The park closes at 7:00 pm in February, but request a “Stay Late” permit to get the park almost to yourself under the stars.
White Sands National Park gets its name from the seemingly endless dunes of gypsum white sand. As one of the best national parks in February, it’s also a month ranking as one of the least-visited, offering more space to explore this surreal landscape.
A rare chance to tour Lake Lucero in February makes another selling point. The likelihood of it selling out is slim. Without ruining the tour, the lake is the “Birthplace of the Dunes.”
MAKE IT A DOUBLE: Pair this with a trip to Carlsbad Caverns, just three hours away. February’s slow pace means a better chance of getting preferred access time and tour reservations.
2. Acadia National Park
This Maine park on Mount Desert Island exploded into the travel niche with visitation up 63% since 2012. February’s low visitor count makes you feel like the island is all yours. Don’t forget to head to the Schoodic Peninsula, where the scenic drive stays open all winter.
The carriage roads throughout the park make this a true “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” experience. Plus, Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, and Otter Point remain accessible. State roads lead to the epic sunset views at Bass Harbor, and it’s hard to find a spot among the summer crowds there.
1. Joshua Tree National Park
This desert delight deserves the attention that only cooler winter desert days can bring. Summers scorch with heat. Get here before the bounty of spring crowds arrives. Enjoy highs in the 60s, with chilly nights perfect for stargazing at this Dark Sky Park.
Snow’s rarity means even if it happens, it’s a novelty to behold. Explore all the trails you want without having to worry about excessive heat. You still need to drink at least a gallon of water a day. Winter dehydration ruins a great hike.
Rock climbers should plan for early February, as the nest raptor season shuts down popular routes in late February.
National Parks to Avoid in February
While almost every national park brings something special to February, several should be avoided. I’ll go through these quickly.
- Isle Royale National Park, Michigan: It’s closed in winter because conditions on the water and island are too treacherous.
- Any Alaska National Park: With limited daylight and below-zero temperatures, getting most of any park poses a challenge. Plus, you even need a heater so your car doesn’t freeze. However, all parks are open through winter.
- Voyageurs National Park: You’ll get the novelty of driving an ice road over lakes and walking on (frozen) water. On the other hand, the northern Minnesota weather shows no mercy. It’s remote, solitary, and only for the most experienced winter adventurers.
- Zion National Park: I probably started a riot with this one. Let me explain. Most people who visit Zion dream of climbing Angels Landing or navigating the Narrows. Ice, snow, and hypothermia-inducing water don’t sound like a dream come true.
What is the Grand Canyon like in February? Hit-or-miss. First, only the South Rim is open. The North Rim closes in December. That takes away the hope of the Rim-to-Rim hike.
The winter road treatment includes rock cinder, not salt or brine. That might catch some visitors off guard. Also, the most popular trails and viewpoints can be slippery beyond belief. Also, water on any trail or rest stop becomes limited when the temperatures freeze.
Map of Best National Parks in February
The Most Important Thing About February in National Parks
The National Park Service offers six fee-free days a year. In 2024, those days are:
- January 15: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- April 20: First day of National Park Week
- June 19: Juneteenth National Independence Day
- August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- September 28: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
Do you notice something not there? President’s Day no longer ranks as a fee-free day in the National Park System. Other public lands outside of NPS and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are the only ones with fee-free President’s Day.
That said, plan for crowds on President’s Day weekend at any national park. The three-day weekend brings out crowds in droves. Even Joshua Tree officials tell us that is one of their busiest weekends of the year.
List of Best National Parks in February
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Acadia National Park
- White Sands National Park
- Saguaro National Park
- Yellowstone National Park
- Haleakala National Park
- Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
- Biscayne National Park
- Dry Tortugas National Park
- Everglades National Park
- Big Bend National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Grand Teton National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Olympic National Park
Most Romantic Park Spots in February
Love is in the air, and I’m not sure if you all realize this, but both Will and Jim proposed to their wives in national parks. (If you need some help planning, just reach out!)
Jim proposed to his wife at Sequoia National Park after a snowstorm and Will dropped to his knee at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.
Smack dab in the middle of February comes Valentine’s Day. We scouted some of the most romantic spots for a scenic view or a knee drop.
- Heart Rock Joshua Tree
- Observation Point Zion
- Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon
- Any Dark Sky Park at night
- Sunrise Summit at Haleakala National Park
- Cupid’s Arch Trail, Arches National Park
- Kalaloch Beach Olympic
- Bass Harbor Acadia
- Heart Rock Joshua Tree
- Kissing Couple Colorado National Monument
Pin Best National Parks in February
Helpful Related Links
May Parks to Visit: 15 BEST US National Parks to Visit in MAY (+2 Parks to Avoid!) 2023
National Parks Rankings: ALL 63 US National Parks Ranked By Experts
Most Visited National Parks: Top 10 Most Visited National Parks
Least Visited National Parks: Top 10 Least Visited National Parks
National Parks Road Trips: 10 Best National Park Road Trips
National Monuments Ranked: ALL 128 US National Monuments Ranked (Best to Worst)
Best Winter Parks: 15 Stunning National Parks in Winter Worth Visiting (+ Photos)