Winter Wonderlands: 3 Perfect National Parks for Winter Travel
With the outdoors shifting to cooler mornings and crisping leaves, old man winter and shoulder-season travel are just around the corner. If you’re looking for the perfect family escape or simply want to get away with a loved one, consider three of our favorite destinations for majestic winter adventure – complemented by a dose of relaxation, of course.
Crowded with tourists during the summer, Yellowstone National Park reverts to its wilder, quieter side as snow blankets meadows and steaming geysers mix with the breath of elk and bison. From the swish of cross country skis to the warm blaze of a roaring fireplace, wintertime in Yellowstone delivers a postcard-perfect backdrop to your next holiday family photo. By day, explore via snowmobile, snowshoe and snow coach, keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife tracks. In the evening, gather for a gourmet feast of savory game and roasted vegetables before retiring to the cozy Yellowstone Lodge lobby for hot cocoa and recap. Give your family the gift of a fresh perspective: Yellowstone without the distraction of crowds. They’ll liken you to Yogi (smarter than the average bear!) when you tell them your genius plan to visit the world’s first national park in the ‘off’-season.
They don’t look real, those jagged peaks looming over the valley animated by white hares and cunning foxes. Looming larger than life, the Grand Tetons beg to be explored – even in the icy casing of winter’s freezing grip. Discover why Ansel Adams could never get his fill of photographing America’s mini Alps as you bundle up and zoom down the snowy slopes on inner tubes and wander through a wintry scene by sleigh. Cap the cold day off with a delicious meal and soak in the Jacuzzi before resting up for tomorrow’s adventures. Lit up by a full moon or under the gaze of a star-studded sky, the Grand Tetons stir awe in both young and old, and before you know it, you’re dreaming of seeing this landscape in its next season’s dressing – and combining it with a side-trip to Yellowstone. Good thing the great outdoors is open year-round!
Despite the song, a winter wonderland doesn’t have to include snow; plot your next cool-weather getaway for February and be treated to a bounty of wildflowers and things to do as you venture to the greatest surprise in the West: Death Valley National Park. Nestled in the multi-hues and varied terrain of the lower 48’s largest national park, this misleading name doesn’t capture the thriving life found here. Road bike on some of the Southwest’s most underrated paved routes to the lowest point in the United States at Badwater Basin. Take in sprawling vistas from the soaring heights of Dante’s View before zipping down the smooth road of Coffin Mountain. Hike amongst the textured setting of salt pans, sand dunes, golden canyons and a palette of rock colors that’s fit for a painters canvas. The folklore surrounding this historical region offers plenty to talk about as you enjoy the last rays of the day, raising a glass from the patio of the Inn at Furnace Creek. Cheers to winter vacations!