While most people choose to visit the National Parks during summer, a few parks are best enjoyed during winter and early spring. These parks are located in the southwest, south, and southeastern U.S., parks that have extremely warm temperatures during summer.
Not only can one visit these parks during winter (they're open year-round), but the daily temperatures will be more comfortable and there will be fewer crowds! Read on for our five favorite National Parks to visit during winter and early spring.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is not only the hottest National Park in the United States; it's also the hottest place in the world! Located along the border between California and Nevada, Death Valley rests at 275 feet below sea level and regularly experiences temperatures exceeding 130 degrees.
While Death Valley may be dangerously hot during summer, the average high temperatures during winter range between 65 and 74 degrees, with low temperatures ranging between 39 and 46 degrees. The sun still shines bright even in winter though, so be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of water!
Bryce Canyon National Park
Known for its hoodoo spire rock formations, canyons, mesas, three distinctive climate zones, hiking trails, and wildlife, it's no wonder Bryce Canyon National Park attracts over 1.5 million visitors each year. And with most visitors arriving during summer, the park can get a little claustrophobic!
An easy solution to experiencing a fun, comfortable, and relatively quiet trip to Bryce Canyon National Park is to visit during winter. The summer months bring high temperatures, lots of sunlight, and very little rain. But the winter temps are much cooler, with Bryce's iconic spires sometimes capped in snow! And finally, lower temps and the school season almost always means fewer crowds in Bryce Canyon during the winter and spring.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park offers stunning natural beauty any time of the year. But during winter, visitation numbers drop dramatically, leading to more wildlife activity. Mammals, birds, and reptiles are more visible during the winter months, and the weather is more comfortable.
During summer, Zion National Park receives close to 500,000 visitors each month. Conversely, the park only receives about 100,000 visitors each month during winter. Further, the park is much cooler during this period, with average daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s. The park is still mostly arid, however, meaning visitors should bring lots of water and stay hydrated!
Big Bend National Park
Located in southwest Texas along the United States-Mexico border, Big Bend National Park experiences incredibly high temperatures during summer. Temps regularly soar to over 103 degrees, with a scorching sun and often very little breeze adding to the effect. Thankfully, the park is open year-round, affording visitors several options in when to visit the park.
Historically, Big Bend National Park has not experienced high visitation numbers. The park is quite remote, which previously discouraged some visitors who sought nature adventures closer to home. However, the National Park Service reported that Big Bend visitation spiked in 2020, with hundreds of thousands of visitors entering the park during that year. Visitation numbers still fall off during winter, though, giving explorers a chance to experience a southern park in comfortable temps and with no crowds.
Everglades National Park
Located in the southeastern United States in South Florida, Everglades National Park is one of the warmest places in the nation. And unlike southwestern parks, the Everglades is in a subtropical zone, meaning this region is hot, humid, and prone to lots of rainfall. Summer months bring high water levels, extreme humidity, high temperatures, and lots of mosquitoes, gnats, and sunshine.
Summer temps in the Everglades can easily soar to the 90s, with humidity levels making the region feel even warmer than that. Thankfully, the park is open year-round, with the park's main entrance being open to the public 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. Explorers may enjoy a winter trip to the park, as lower crowd levels and more comfortable temperatures allow for better wildlife viewing and more space to roam throughout the park.
Enjoying a Different Side to America's National Parks
The summer season is synonymous with travel, exploration, and adventures across the country and world. Summer is when most families get some time off from work and school, and summer weather is often most amicable to exploring the outdoors.
But for those who are able, several National Parks are arguably more enjoyable during late autumn, winter, and early spring. Plus, a journey into these parks during the off-season affords an entirely different experience than what most have come to expect from these natural wonders.
We hope you get a chance to visit one of the warmer parks during the off-season. And if you need a souvenir from a trip to one of the parks or an original vintage design of your favorite winter park, our 63 American National Parks Collection has over 300 unique illustrations to choose from.
Anderson Design Group Staff Writer