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Top 13 US National Parks Ideal for Winter Travel

America's National Parks have always been one of the top family fun ideas, and with their kid-friendly campgrounds, historic lodges, and low entry prices. USAToday

Photo: Shutterstock

But while the most popular national parks are often overcrowded in summer, they are often overlooked in winter. In fact, some of the best national parks worth visiting in winter have 90% fewer people than in summer.

Many of America's finest national parks are also located in deserts and tropics. In winter, these typically inhospitable places have more pleasant temperatures. So, from snowy mountain peaks to warm sandy oases, these are the best national parks to visit in winter.

1. Acadia National Park, Maine

The first rays of the new year in the United States light up Mount Acadia National Park's Cadillac, and nearby family-friendly Bar Harbor has plenty of New Year's activities and fireworks for kids to keep the whole family feeling festive.

Acadia National Park is open all year round, and in winter its roads are prepared for skiers, snowshoe lovers and hikers. Staying in the car is pleasant and warm is also a good option, because traffic drops significantly during the colder months, and the popular Park Loop Road by the ocean remains open for scenic drives.

2 Arches National Park, Utah

One of Utah's famous Mighty 5 National Parks, Arches National Park boasts a crazy number of visitors during the summer months, when long lines cause long waits at popular outlets such as Delicate Arch. But since many Utah visitors prefer ski resorts when it snows, winter is a great time to visit Arches National Park without the crowds or scorching temperatures.

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The white snow, contrasting with the red rocks against the blue sky, creates fantastic views (not to mention the photographs). Most of the hiking trails are open all year round, but be prepared for slippery roads after a snowfall. If you don't feel like getting out of your car, there are scenic winter trips to the Delicate Arch viewpoint.

3. Big Bend National Park, Texas

The winter months are full of sunny days with milder temperatures in Big Bend National Park, making it one of the best national parks to visit in winter - and often more enjoyable than during the scorching summer heat.

The park is located at the Big Bend of the Rio Grande, which runs through the area with high-walled canyons throughout the region. Families can enjoy the scenic Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive through the Chisos Mountain Range.

There are also many hiking opportunities, such as the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. And since it's winter now, why not warm up with a dip in a natural hot spring?

4. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

The landscape of Bryce Canyon National Park adds another dimension as snow falls on its tops. The Red Rock Amphitheater is open year-round, and families can head to popular viewpoints such as Inspiration Point and Sunset Point, or hike their favorite trails including the Navajo Loop and Queen's Garden.

Other winter activities include the annual Bryce Canyon Winter Festival with skiing and snowshoeing hikes, photography lessons, children's activities such as fossil lectures, painting and family concerts.

5Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley? You may associate this national park with intense heat, but the average high temperature in Death Valley National Park is only 20 degrees in January and 23 in February. Visiting the park in winter is a great time to enjoy the stunning scenery, starry skies and endless entertainment. al fresco including a golf course at the lowest point on the planet.

While most of the national parks experience their least attendance in winter, Death Valley has its most attendance during this time of year. Better to choose lower temperatures for hiking and stargazing at night.

6.Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park Located on a remote tropical island 110 kilometers west of Key West, it takes some effort to get to it - it can only be done by boat or seaplane - but it's definitely worth the extra miles to get there.

The park is 260 square kilometers and is surrounded by several small islands of coral reefs. Swimming, snorkeling, diving and boating in clear blue water are all popular activities in the park.

On land, families can explore the historic 19th century Fort Jefferson, located on Garden Key, and built to support ships patrolling the Gulf of Mexico in the mid to late 1800s. The islands have several lighthouses, including the Garden Key Light (also called Tortugas Harbor Light) and Loggerhead Lighthouse on the adjacent loggerhead key.

7. Everglades National Park, Florida

The state has not one but two of the best national parks to visit in winter because winter is dry season Everglades National Park in Florida. The colder months are a great time to explore this tropical national park.

The stubborn mosquitoes, which are ubiquitous during the summer months, have disappeared (as have the heat and humidity). Many birds and wildlife can be seen. Migrating birds from northern climates head to the Everglades, and alligators come out of the water to bask in the sun.

Two-hour tours are available with the company Shark Valley Tram Tours (official partner of the national park), where nature lovers go deep into the Everglades ecosystem.

8. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

North edge Grand Canyon National Park closed from December to mid-May, but the South Shore winter is magical and offers a fresh take on this impressive U.S. tourist attraction.

By visiting the park during the colder months, families can fully appreciate the park's mild winter temperatures, less crowds, and even one of the America's Best Historical Train Rides.

The winter sun is lower in the sky, which means it doesn't set directly over the Grand Canyon, but instead covers rocky peaks and crevasses in lovely purples, pinks, and oranges. And the nights sparkle in a certified park dark sky park, where you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye.

Winter sunrises can be just as spectacular. Savvy photographers appreciate this time of year for the clarity of light, especially in the immediate aftermath of a snowstorm.

9 Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The summer crowds are gone and a blanket of snow covers the mountains when Grand Teton National Park Winter is coming and there is no better backdrop for activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and dog sledding tours than Grand Teton. Racers tie sleds to Alaskan huskies for mountain walks, and families can also ride horse-drawn sleds through the National Elk Refuge.

Those looking for fun for children who are more sheltered from the elements can opt for a snowmobile safari. And there are plenty of family-friendly adventures that offer day trips with local guides, kids programs, activity packages, and plenty of wildlife watching opportunities.

10. Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana

Who wouldn't want to head to a sandy beach with miles of dunes in the middle of winter? Indiana Dunes National Park is located 24 kilometers from the shoreline of Lake Michigan, and while the park is best known for its summer beach activities on the lake, it is also a great place to visit in winter.

Families have plenty of space for hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding on the snow-covered dunes. Spectacular ice shelf formations gather along the coastline of Lake Michigan, giving the landscape a surreal arctic hue.

When the sun sets in the early evening, you will find many opportunities to admire the scenic sunset on the shores of Indiana Dunes.

11. Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Majestic cacti reach out their hands to the sky in Saguaro National Park in Arizona. And like other desert parks, Saguaro is one of the best national parks to visit in winter because temperatures are cooler and snow is possible this season.

This unique desert ecosystem offers many hiking and biking options, including a trail that leads up to a hill with nearly 200 petroglyphs created by indigenous peoples from 500 to 1000 years ago.

12. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Few places match beauty Yellowstone in winter, and therefore it is called wonderland. Yes, temperatures are dropping sharply, but so is attendance - and in an era of social distancing, winter is an even better time to visit.
The richest opportunities for wildlife watching (and viewing geysers) also open up during the height of winter. Bison also roam the area with frozen, crusty manes, while large herds of elk congregate in the lower elevations and are an important food source for wolves, mountain lions and bears. Winter visits to the Yellowstone hinterland are available by snowmobile or snowmobiles 4x4 run by national park guides.

13 Zion National Park, Utah

Named after the Hebrew word for refuge, Utah's Zion National Park is not only one of the best national parks to visit in winter, but one of the most beautiful places on earth. While the apricot-colored canyon walls and endless vistas attract hordes of tourists during the warmer months, the number of visitors drops with temperatures as winter rolls around.

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Weather conditions vary during this time of the year, but there are often sunny days with mild temperatures during the winter. And although Zion National Park has the highest rainfall from December to March, the snow at the bottom of the valley does not last long.
However, ice and snow remain on the peaks and hills, which complicates some of the hikes.

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