10 National Parks to Visit in the Winter


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Halemaumau volcano, Hawaii
The Halemaumau volcano is viewed at night from the Jaggar Museum Overlook, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Keith Burnett/NPS

If you're looking for respite from brutal blizzards and cold temperatures on America's mainland, it's hard to top Hawaii. You can really fire up your imagination by visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on the "Big Island," which proudly features two of Earth's most active volcanoes.

There are spectacular driving opportunities, including Crater Rim Drive, which features scenic stops along major overlooks that offer views of craters and steam vents. You'll get glimpses of Mauna Loa and Kilauea, the latter of which has been erupting pretty much non-stop since the early 1980s [source: Bagley].

This park is a primeval wonderland, and two-legged excursions are just as great, if not better, than the four-wheeled journeys. You'll have your choice of hikes through lush junglescapes and can find lava tubes galore. Don't forget the side benefits of your journey to the islands — big surfing waves and whale watching are at their peaks during the winter months [sources: Wentzel, NPS].

Visiting in winter offers a couple of distinct benefits. Temperatures tend to be a bit more pleasant, meaning you won't be as sticky as you would in July. And the price of accommodations on this particular island are typically cheaper than those found on other Hawaiian Islands.