Although the majority of state and national parks experience the highest number of visitors in the summer, the winter is the perfect time to visit one. Here are our six reasons why we LOVE to visit in the off-season.
Winter visitors– Some animals visit only during the winter months making it a treat to see them. For warmer climates, such as Channel Islands National Park, winter is prime time to spot whales. The Great Horn Owl is a winter only visitor to Snow Canyon State Park in St. George, Utah. Migratory birds settle in for the winter in the Everglades. It is also a great time to see how year-round residents spend the winter. Animals with darker coats will tend to stand out more in the snowy landscape making it easier to spot them. You can follow their tracks in the snow to discover hidden dens and resting places.
The quietness– Fewer crowds, wide open parking lots, a lack of traffic and empty trails-need we say more.
Winter activities– Sledding, snowshoeing, ice fishing and cross-country skiing are just some of the winter activities you can do in the parks. Many parks offer demonstrations and guided tours to introduce visitors to these winter activities.
Prime photo taking– No longer will you have to crop people out of your photos. You also won’t have to wait in line at the most scenic spots for a perfect pic. Snow-capped mountains and waterfalls turned to ice can make for some beautiful landscapes. In fact, the cold actually brings out more color, especially on those bluebird days.
Special events and activities- Winter weekends take place at Rocky Mountain National Park at the Estes Park YMCA. Bryce Canyon offers nighttime astronomy programs. From backcountry ski tours to full moon snowshoes, like at Bear Creek State Park in Lakewood, Colorado, you can find all kinds of special events that highlight the best of the season. Snowmobile outfitters take photographers to remote places in the park during winter in Yellowstone.
Mild temperatures– The extreme heat that greats summer visitors is months away when visiting the parks in the winter. During these months, you can still find sunny, mild days in the colder landscapes while lower temperatures bring visitors to places like Death Valley that are normally too hot to visit in the summer.
Don’t miss an opportunity to visit your local state park or a national park this winter!