It’s one of the best feelings imaginable. As you first enter, you’re in awe. Expansion surrounds you and wonder fills every crevice of your mind. The landscape draws your attention and directs your gaze towards every curve and bend in the path ahead. The trees, rocks or mountains welcome you as you immerse yourself in its beauty, as your perspectives shift and are forever changed about the world around you. Upon leaving, nostalgia consumes your feelings, until you plan your next return…
The best things in life are not things, and visiting a National Park is no exception. There are so many incredible parks to visit, from a desolate, desert region, to a frigid, dormant terrain. And if you think you can only plan your visit in the warmer months, think again. Most parks are accessible year round, aside from any closures due to winter conditions. But because they are all special in their own way, we’ve listed our personal picks of national parks to visit this winter. So stop what you’re doing, get out a pen and paper, and jot down your favorite on this list. You will not be disappointed, and I can almost guarantee that you will leave feeling energized, refreshed and enlightened.
Yosemite National Park
Perhaps the most notorious park in the country for hikers and rock climbers alike, Yosemite National Park is known for its gleaming granite faces, vast meadows, ancient sequoia trees and enchanting waterfalls. It was first protected in 1864 and has attracted millions of people each year to celebrate its magnificence. And with 1,200 square miles of terrain to explore, one of the best things about visiting Yosemite is that you have 13 different campgrounds to choose from. No campground is like the other, giving you a different experience each visit. If you’ve heard great things about Yosemite, but have never ventured out to see it, what are you waiting for?
Zion National Park
A place that will have you feeling like you stepped straight into a Jurassic Park movie, Zion National Park is definitely unique in its own way. As Utah’s first national park, Zion has a rich history and amazing energy. I remember the feeling I first felt as we slowly approached the park. We weren’t even across the entrance yet, as I spotted red, sandstone cliffs towering in the distance. I truly felt like I left Earth, and entered Mars. The warm climate, bright blue sky and desert shrubbery is unlike anything else on this planet. Zion is a great place to escape the cold, winter climate and immerse yourself in the vast landscape of rock and wildlife in the beautiful state of Utah.
Arches National Park
Another Utah native, rich in red sandstone structures, is Arches National Park. The park is home to over 2,000 stone arches and includes impressive balanced rocks that will have you amazed for hours. The landscape began forming roughly 65 million years ago and continues to evolve everyday by the erosion of water. If you’re looking for an otherworldly experience, head out to Utah this winter!
Rocky Mountain National Park
It’s the place you go to breathe fresh, crisp air and see a spectrum of color in one line of sight. Rocky Mountain National Park was first established in 1915, spanning 415 square miles and the Continental Divide in northern Colorado. Experience snow capped mountains and forests rich in green lush. Home to the highest national park visitor center in the United States, this park will have you feeling like you have an almost aerial view of the ground below. Astonishing, welcoming and humbling, the Rocky Mountains are a sight to see.
Glacier National Park
The last park more than worthy of a trip this winter is Glacier National Park. But visitors beware, this is not for those averted to cold weather. At the very tip of western Montana, expect colder temperatures, and come prepared with warm clothes. And for those of you who aren’t aware, Glacier National Park is known as the Crown of the Continent. Streams inside the park flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and to Hudson’s Bay. How cool is that? It’s also an impressive 1,583 square miles with glacier-carved peaks that will have your jaw drop in a matter of seconds. And if you’re big on hiking, don’t fret. Explore over 700 miles of trails and spot mountain goats out on your journey!