10 National Parks to Visit in the Winter


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Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Snow-capped hoodoos (tall, thin spires of rock) protrude from the badlands of Bryce Canyon. National Park Service

The pink-orange spires of Bryce Canyon offer surreal beauty any time of the year. But when those same spires are capped with fresh snow, their gorgeousness is almost overwhelming.

Although it's a cold area in wintertime, the park service provides guided snowshoe tours, including a full moon snowshoe hike. Astronomy programs are also held in the winter months, so provided the skies are clear, you can use powerful telescopes to behold the spectacular stars against the dark skies above this remote area of Utah. The park also hosts a winter festival over Presidents' Day weekend in February [source: NPS].

The desert climate means that there are a lot of sunny — and warm — days during wintertime. However, at night, that all changes. Because parts of Bryce Canyon top more than 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) in elevation, winter temperatures are often brisk, if not downright frigid. That means you'll have to dress accordingly. But the smaller crowds also mean off-season discounts at local motels, so you can snag a room instead of suffering in an ice-crusted tent on a nearby mountain [source: Laypath].

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