15 Best Winter Camping National Parks

Did you know that some national parks are actually better to visit in the winter? These are the best winter camping national parks to enjoy without the crowds, bugs, or excessive heat!

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Girl In Redwoods - Best National Parks In Winter

Table of Contents

Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

We love visiting national parks! Luckily there are national parks that are perfect for visiting any time of the year, including winter.

As much as we love the parks, we don’t love hiking in 100-degree temperatures, wading through traffic and huge mobs of people, or getting eaten alive by bugs.

Visiting national parks in winter often removes these issues while offering peace and solitude that you can’t find any other time of year.

We have found that visiting and camping in national parks during the off-season is our family’s jam. Not only is it easier to get an RV camping reservation, but we can soak up the peace and quiet without the crowds.

Our family is on a mission to visit and camp in all of the major US national parks. We have made it to 37 national parks so far and these are our top picks for winter camping. 

Pros And Cons Of Visiting National Parks In Winter For Camping

Most national parks in winter are in their off-season.

This is a huge win for travelers that want to enjoy nature and beauty without the crazy summer months with crowds. Park reservations aren’t required for entrance.

It can also offer empty trails and abundant wildlife.

Depending on the park, a light dusting of snow can also really set off the scenery.

There are a few drawbacks to visiting national parks in winter

The cons of national parks in winter include the possibility of closures due to weather.

Some parks have reduced services and main road closures during the winter season.

Winter national park campgrounds may have reduced services such as limited potable water, dump station facilities, and lack of bathrooms with flush toilets.

It is important to check the winter national park website before your visit for current conditions or road conditions and closures.

A little additional planning goes a long way for visiting national parks in winter. It is worth it, though!

Editor’s Pick For Best National Park In Winter For Camping:

Our top pick for winter camping national parks USA also happens to be one of the warm national parks in winter, Joshua Tree National Park.

We fell in love with this enormous park filled with trees that look like they are straight out of The Lorax book.

Snowy Mountain and Lake in Lassen Least Visited National Park Ideas To Avoid Crowds

Why Winter National Parks Make The Perfect Camping Trip

If you are like us, the winter feels like it drags on forever.

It seems like the winter lull starts to get us a little bit down after all the Christmas and holiday fun is over.

It’s easy to want to stay inside with the short cold winter days.

Why not plan a national parks winter camping adventure to break up the monotony of winter?

Nature is the perfect cure for the winter blues!

Why These Best National Parks To Visit In Winter Made Our List

Visiting national parks in winter is perfect to avoid excessive crowds, heat, or bugs for each park on this list.

Most winter national parks on our list have daytime average highs above 40 degrees, and some are above 50 degrees.

Snow is also rare or light, with well-plowed roads in most of these parks.

The best US national parks to visit in winter that made our list have trails, roads, activities, and camping still mostly open in the winter.

These parks can actually be better to visit in the winter than any other season.

Let’s plan your national parks winter adventure!

Rock Formations In Arches Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

Avoid The HEAT With These Best National Parks In Winter

It’s no secret that the desert national parks are just miserable to visit in the summer.

They can also be downright dangerous due to the extreme heat.

No one enjoys hiking, paddling, or camping in 100-degree temperatures. These outdoor activities are amazing in the winter, though.

1) Pinnacles National Park Winter 

Pinnacles is a hidden gem in the national park system. It is a desert park in a very rural area of Central California and most people simply don’t know about it.

Pinnacles National Park Weather – A Best National Park In Winter

We loved this park, and although Pinnacles is already one of the least crowded national parks, it is extremely hot in the summer.

The average summer weather at Pinnacles National Park is 90-100 degrees.

Avoiding the heat makes Pinnacles one of the best California national parks in winter. The weather is perfect for outdoor activities.

The average winter daily highs are 60-70 degrees, with lows of 22-30. Pinnacles National Park snow is common at higher elevations but rare in the park.

Best Time To Visit Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park is one of the warmest national parks in winter, so it is the perfect winter getaway from the cold.

The best time to visit Pinnacles National Park in December is right before the holidays. November and March are also great times to visit.

January and February are the wet season months for Pinnacles, so pack layers and rain gear.

Winter Things To Do In Pinnacles National Park

Visiting in the winter allows you to enjoy popular Pinnacles National Park things to do, such as camping, hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing in comfort.

Pinnacles is known for its unique rock formations and talus caves that are perfect for exploring.

Pinnacles National Park Hikes

Hiking Pinnacles National Park in the winter is a must-do activity. Check out the Bear Gulch Cave Trail to explore the talus rock caves this park is famous for.

Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for use in the caves. This is a great trail for families.

Don’t miss checking out the Bear Gulch Reservoir at the trail’s end, which looks like a black lake.

For the more adventurous hikers, check out the steep High Peaks Trail. Keep your eye out for California Condors that frequent the cliffs.

Winter Pinnacles National Park Camping

Pinnacles camping is open during the winter months. The Pinnacles Campground has tent and RV sites with electricity open year-round. This is a great warm weather pick for winter camping national parks California.

Girl Sitting By Lake In Pinnacles Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

2) Death Valley In Winter 

Okay, this park on our list is a no-brainer. Death Valley National Park is the hottest place in North America, so it makes sense to visit this park in the winter.

We visited in late October, and the temperatures were still in the upper 90s. It felt almost hard to breathe.

The summer Death Valley average temperature is 115 degrees!

Death Valley Winter Temperatures

Death Valley National Park in December would be just perfect for a winter visit.

The winter also provides snow-capped mountains, better-angled light for photography, and wildflowers starting in late February.

The Death Valley National Park winter is less windy, with average daily high temps of 65-75 degrees and lows of 38-50 degrees.

Death Valley snow is rare in the lower valley floor elevations, but it is common in the higher elevations. If there is snow in the valley, it is often just a dusting.

Best Time To Visit Death Valley National Park

Because the average temperature in Death Valley is comfortable in the winter, it is the park’s peak season.

The least crowded window is after Thanksgiving and before Christmas.

The most crowded is during the holidays. Even with crowds, Death Valley may still be the best national park to visit in winter.

Winter Death Valley National Park Things To Do

Winter in Death Valley is the perfect weather for outdoor park activities. In fact, the summer heat can almost be dangerous to enjoy strenuous park activities.

The most popular park activities in winter are hiking, climbing, mountain biking, camping, and horseback riding.

Death Valley Hiking In Winter

The cooler winter weather in the park is just right for hiking.

Our top picks for the best hikes in Death Valley are Dante’s View Trail, Mosaic Canyon Trail, and Death Valley Natural Bridge Trail.

These Death Valley trails are easy or moderate and are perfect for the whole family.

Winter Death Valley Camping

Death Valley National Park camping is extremely popular in the winter season.

There are many areas for camping in Death Valley. The Furnace Creek Campground is the only one that takes reservations in the winter.

Furnace Creek is also the most popular campground in the park, so it helps to reserve your campsite as far in advance as possible to get a spot.

There are 18 full hook-up RV campsites at Furnace creek, which can be booked six months in advance.

Death Valley offers both developed and primitive campgrounds for tent camping, RV camping, and group camping.

Note that cell phone service and internet are limited in most areas of Death Valley.

Adventure Tip: Ask the rangers about the Racetrack sliding rock phenomenon. There are fewer winds in the winter to view this, but it is fun to try.

Girl In Badwater Basin Of The Badlands Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

3) Joshua Tree In The Winter

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best national parks in the winter.

This desert park averages close to 100 degrees in the summer. It is tough to enjoy the beauty of this park in that kind of heat.

Winter in the park is lovely, though. It’s one of the few national parks that are warm in the winter.

Joshua Tree Winter Weather

Joshua Tree weather is mild, with winter average daytime temperatures at a comfortable 61-74 degrees.

The evenings are a bit chilly at lows of 37-43 degrees.

Joshua Tree snow is fairly rare. Those travelers who see snow in Joshua Tree are lucky to experience the park’s beauty with a white dusting.

Best Time To Visit Joshua Tree

Winter is the peak season for this park, so although the weather is great, there may be crowds.

Visiting Joshua Tree in December before the holidays is a less crowded time to visit. January through March is the busy winter season.

Winter Things To Do Joshua Tree

The cooler winter weather is just perfect for outdoor park activities. The most popular Joshua Tree things to do in the park are hiking, biking, camping, and rock climbing.

One of the winter best things to do in Joshua Tree is stargazing.

This park is designated as an International Dark Sky Park, and the especially clear winter skies are incredible for stargazers.

Best Hiking At Joshua Tree

Winter Joshua Tree hiking is perfect without the intense desert heat of summer. What a great way to explore the rock formations and rare trees.

Our top Joshua Tree hikes in winter include the Skull Rock Trail, Arch Rock Trail, Hidden ValleyTrail, and the Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail.

The Cholla Cactus Garden is a quick nature walk, but seeing these unique cactus species is worth the stop.

All of the Joshua Tree trails on our list are easy and family-friendly hikes.

Winter Joshua Tree Camping

All 500 campsites in Joshua Tree are open in the winter, and many are reservable in advance.

Since winter is the busy season, if you will be camping in Joshua Tree, it’s best to reserve your campsite as soon as possible.

Joshua Tree Campsites are reservable six months in advance.

RV camping in Joshua Tree National Park is limited to RVs with a maximum size of 25-30 feet in length. There are no RV utility hook-ups in campsites.

Adventure Tip: There is limited cell phone service in the park. Be sure to download park and hiking maps ahead of time.

Joshua Tree And Rocks Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

4) Saguaro National Park Winter

Seeing the giant saguaro cacti are such a thrill. We love exploring all of the different cactus shapes.

Some of the giant saguaros even resemble the silhouettes of people. During our visit, we had fun striking poses that looked like some of the cacti.

Winter Saguaro National Park Weather

This desert park is downright brutal in the summertime. Summer highs in this park average 95-110 degrees daily.

The winter Saguaro average daytime high temperatures are a comfortable 65-75 degrees. The nightly lows are 40-50 degrees. It’s perfect for outdoor fun.

Best Time To Visit Saguaro National Park

Enjoying outdoor activities in the summer desert heat is tough, but the winter weather is just right.

Because of the pleasant weather, this is also the peak season for Saguaro National Park.

The weather was great during our November visit, it wasn’t crowded on a weekday, and we enjoyed seeing all the massive cactus formations.

Saguaro National Park in December before the holidays is also a less crowded time to visit.

Things To Do In Saguaro National Park

Although the park can be more crowded during the winter months, peak season is also when the park offers the most guided activities.

Check out a Ranger talk or guided walk during your visit.

The winter season is a comfortable time to hike, drive the scenic park loop, camp, and backpack.

Saguaro National Park East Versus Saguaro National Park West

Which part of Saguaro National Park is better?

The park is divided into two districts Saguaro National Park East and West. The Saguaro National Park West section is much smaller and more remote.

Many people feel like the West section is more scenic because it is both farther from town and has more cacti.

Both districts have a visitor center and a scenic drive, but the West district loop is not paved. It is a graded dirt road.

If you have the time, both sections are unique and worth a visit.

Best Winter Saguaro National Park Hikes

When planning your Saguaro National Park itinerary, definitely take some time to enjoy one of the park hikes.

Saguaro National Park hiking is a great way to enjoy the mountain scenery and unique desert landscape.

An easy can’t-miss hike in the East District, also known as the Rincon Mountain District, is the Mica View Loop Trail.

This hike is a great way to experience the cactus forest with incredible mountain views.

For a quick trail with a big dose of scenery in the Saguaro National Park West District, also known as the Tucson Mountain District, check out the Signal Hill Trail.

This must-see trail includes rock petroglyphs. Another quick and easy trail is the Valley View Overlook Trail.

Winter Camping In Saguaro National Park

Sadly there is no RV camping in Saguaro National Park. Backcountry tent camping is available in 6 park areas for backpackers with a permit.

There are, however, free BLM RV boondocking spots near Saguaro National Park. Check out the Snyder Hill Bureau of Land Management area west of Tucson.

For electric RV campsites close to Saguaro, Gilbert Ray Campground is a beautiful Pima County-run campground with mountain views.

Saguaro is one of the best us national parks to visit in winter!

Cacti And Mountains In Saguaro Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

5) Big Bend National Park Winter

Our last desert national park which is one of the best national parks to visit in the winter is Big Bend National Park. This warm winter park makes a great winter getaway.

Big Bend National Park is over 100 degrees for the average summer daytime high, making it hard to enjoy outdoor activities.

Winter Big Bend National Park Weather

The daily winter high temperatures are comfortable at 61-70 degrees with lows of 37-47.

It does occasionally snow in Big Bend National Park, especially at higher elevations. Rare light snow is possible in the rest of the park.

Best Time To Visit Big Bend National Park

Unlike the rest of the parks on our list, Big Bend is one of the least visited national parks, so it is never extremely crowded in any season.

The most crowded time in winter is during the holidays. A visit to Big Bend National Park in December before the holidays is a great choice.

Big Bend is also one of the best national parks to visit in January or February when the weather is just perfect for outdoor activities.

Winter Things To Do Big Bend National Park

Big Bend winter weather is perfect for hiking, floating, camping, and 4-wheeling.

Getting out on the water is a great way to see the park. Floating through canyons on the Rio Grande is a once and a lifetime experience.

A day-use permit is required to take a river day trip.

The river serves as the US-Mexico border, and travelers are not supposed to touch the Mexican bank unless there is a safety issue.

Stargazing is one of the most popular Big Bend National Park things to do in winter. Big Bend is an International Dark Sky Park.

Don’t miss taking a winter dip in the Big Bend National Park hot springs. What a perfect way to soak away your aching hiking muscles!

Hiking Big Bend National Park

The summer heat can be dangerous at times, but for hiking, winter is by far the best time to visit Big Bend.

The hiking in Big Bend is known for the canyon and mountain views. The desert scenery is just stunning.

Some top-rated park hikes for your adventure are the Lost Mine Trail, the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, and the Hot Springs Historic Trail.

Always check trail conditions before setting out. The canyon and river trails are prone to flooding.

Winter Big Bend National Park Camping

Winter is the most comfortable and also a very popular time to camp in Big Bend.

There are 3 Big Bend National Park RV camping campgrounds operated by the national park system.

Each has water available and a bathroom, but none of the RV campgrounds have campsite hookups. Reservations are required and can be made six months ahead of time.

Check out the concessionaire-run campground Rio Grande Village RV Park if you need RV hookups.

You can’t go wrong with a Big Bend winter visit.

Girl At The Grand Canyon Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

Avoid CROWDS Visiting National Parks In Winter

A great benefit to visiting the national parks for winter travels is often fewer crowds.

When we think of national parks, most of us envision peace and reflection in beautiful nature.

The truth is that the national park crowds are so bad much of the year that this can be hard to achieve.

It is possible, though, with one of these best national parks to visit in the winter months.

6) Grand Canyon In Winter: South Rim

A visit to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in the winter months saves you from the insane desert heat and the large crowds.

The crowds in the national park are so low that the shuttle stops running, and you can take your car to enjoy the lookout points.

The Grand Canyon South Rim is one of the best national parks to visit in winter.

Note that the Grand Canyon North Rim is closed during the winter months and is better for a fall national parks visit.

Grand Canyon Winter Weather

This park is much colder than any other desert national park in winter on our list; however, we included it because almost everything is still open to enjoy.

With cool daytime Grand Canyon winter temperatures of 40-52 and lows of 18-27 degrees, you need to be prepared for Grand Canyon National Park weather.

Grand Canyon snow is very common. Always check road conditions before your trip.

Most Grand Canyon winter early mornings have fog, but it often clears out by mid-morning.

Best Time To Visit Grand Canyon

If you love avoiding crowds, then hands down, visiting the Grand Canyon in winter is the way to go.

For those that don’t mind chilly nighttime temperatures, Grand Canyon weather in December without the crowds may be just right.

After the holidays in January and February, the park is even less visited. Peace and tranquility are yours in the winter.

Plus, viewing the canyon with a dusting of snow is another reason why winter is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon. It is incredibly beautiful!

Winter Things To Do In The Grand Canyon

Hiking, RV camping, and Ranger-led programs are all still available in the winter.

Even the Bright Angel Campground at the bottom of the canyon is still open.

Hiking and mule trips are also still available in winter to access the canyon floor.

Don’t miss driving the park road and pullouts in your own vehicle. There is no Grand Canyon shuttle in the winter.

For train lovers, the Grand Canyon Railway also operates day train trips from Flagstaff, AZ, to the Grand Canyon.

Our family took this train trip, and it was a blast. We even got to see wild horses from the train. Our daughter was glued to the window in awe!

Winter Grand Canyon Hiking

Winter is a great time to for Grand Canyon hikes. It does require additional supplies and preparation, though.

Always bring extra supplies, including a flashlight or headlamp, since daylight hours are short in the winter.

Also, bring crampons or strap-on shoe traction devices for hiking in case of ice or slick, steep areas.

It’s much easier to get a winter permit for backpacking. For a wild adventure, you can even hike from the South Rim to the North Rim.

Most Grand Canyon trails into the canyon are extremely challenging and steep. An easy trail with amazing views is the Rim Trail.

Check out the South Kaibab Trail for a more challenging hike with great views. Watch for ice on all trails in the winter.

Winter Camping In Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon camping is more limited in the winter, so reserve RV camping in advance.

The Trailer Village RV Campground is open through the winter and has full hookups.

The Mather Campground is also open for tent and RV camping with no hookups.

The Bright Angel Campground inside the canyon is also open to winter campers which helps the Grand Canyon to make our list of the best winter camping national parks.

Adventure Tip: The sky is clear this time of year with increased visibility and great light for photography.

Note: The Grand Canyon North Rim is closed in the winter. Only the South Rim is open year-round. 

The Grand Canyon Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

7) Redwood National Park Winter  

Seeing the big trees is one of the most magical experiences you can have in nature.

You just have to see the Redwoods to believe them. Our necks hurt from looking up so long at these giants!

They are simply magnificent. However, everyone else seems to think so too, which makes this park crowded.

Best Time To Visit Redwood National Park

The Redwoods State and National Parks are very popular. It can be tough to find a place to park in summer.

The winter months in Redwood National Park are the rainy season, with much lower crowds.

You can hike in peace and enjoy scenic drives without the traffic when visiting Redwoods in winter.

The mild winter weather and fewer crowds make the Redwoods one of the best national parks in winter.

Winter Redwood National Park Weather

The daytime high temperatures are a mild 55-58 degrees with lows in the mid-40s during the Redwoods winter.

Since winter is the rainy season, be sure to bring rain gear for your visit.

One perk of visiting in the winter months is enjoying the sights and sounds of the trees in the rain.

Redwood National Park snow is also common. If you get lucky during your visit, it’s beautiful to see a fresh blanket of Redwood forest snow.

Things To Do In Redwood National Park In Winter

Redwood National Park is actually a combination of state parks and federal land.

It’s important to note that GPS does not work well in the Redwood State and National Parks. Our GPS was a mess when we were in this area!

It is a good idea to pick up a printed park map at one of the visitor centers and ask for directions and information before heading out.

The best place to see the Redwoods is the Avenue Of The Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Another amazing place to add to your Redwood National Park Itinerary is Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Take a drive on the park’s scenic roads. It is so enjoyable to visit the park without the crowds. 

Note that many Redwood National Park scenic drives are not RV friendly, and some are not paved.

A scenic drive through the Redwoods that we enjoyed was the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway.

This drive goes through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and is a great place to view elk and the big trees.

Another must-see scenic park drive is the Avenue Of The Giants. This winding riverside road is a magical trip through the Redwoods!

Best Redwood National Park Hikes

Redwood National Park hiking is the perfect way to view the big trees up close. You may also have a neck ache from gawking for so long.

Watching everyone walk around with necks cranked and mouths gaping open is fun!

A must-do Redwood National Park hike is the Fern Canyon Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

This hike is so green and lush. It feels like moss is dripping from everything, and ferns grow right out of the big trees.

It’s breathtaking. This is also a great place to search for the bright yellow banana slugs that frequent the Redwoods.

Another amazing Redwood National Park hike is the Founders Grove Nature Trail in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Winter Campgrounds Redwood National Park

There are 3 Redwood National Park Campgrounds open in the winter and backcountry or backpacking camping options.

The three winter campgrounds open in winter are Jedediah Smith Campground, Elk Prairie Campground, and Gold Bluffs Beach Campground.

All three campgrounds offer tent and RV camping only for smaller RVs. The campsites have no utility hookups.

The Redwood National Park campgrounds are operated by the California State Parks and can be reserved six months in advance.

Girl And Tree In The Redwoods Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

8) Zion National Park Winter

Zion National Park has grown in popularity over the years to become the 5th most visited national park.

It is a beautiful park but often packed. Visiting Zion in winter allows you to enjoy the scenery while avoiding national park crowds

Winter Zion Park Weather

Daytime high temperatures are a comfortable 52-63 degrees, with nightly lows of 29-37 degrees.

There is some Zion snow at times; however, roads are plowed, and snow doesn’t usually last long on the ground in lower elevations.

Zion National Park snow is most common at higher elevations. Always visit the park page to check conditions.

Most days are sunny, with excellent stargazing at night.

Best Time To Visit Zion National Park

Visiting Zion National Park in winter means fewer crowds and no shuttle except for the holidays.

This means you can enjoy the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and pullouts in your own vehicle at your own pace. What a great way to enjoy this park in the winter!

Skipping the crowds makes Zion one of the best Utah national parks in winter.

Winter Things To Do Zion National Park

Most of the trails and camping are still open. You can even still hike the Narrows by renting a dry suit.

The Zion Canyon Visitor Center is open in winter and shows the park film that usually plays in the Human History Museum.

A quieter winter park can also mean more active wildlife. Be on the lookout for elk and bighorn sheep.

Take a scenic Zion National Park winter drive and enjoy the dusting of snow along the canyon. The winter season brings extra beauty to this park.

Winter Hiking Zion National Park

Winter hiking in Zion can be incredible without the heat and the crowds.

Most trails are open, but there can be closures at times due to falling ice. Check trail conditions before heading out.

When national park hiking in the winter, be cautious of ice in shaded trail areas. Consider using shoe traction devices for winter hiking.

One of the best Zion National Park hikes in winter is the Watchman Trail. This short trail leads to a beautiful lookout 300 feet above the canyon.

This is a less popular trail. You may have it all to yourself in the winter.

Winter Zion National Park Camping

Zion National Park campsites are still open in the winter season and one of the best national parks for winter camping due to the lower crowds and mild weather.

The Watchman Campground is open year-round and has camping for tents or RVs. Some campsites have electrical hookups, but there is no water or sewer at campsites.

The campground is located near the south park entrance next to the visitor center. Some sites are next to the river.

Reservations for Zion National Park Camping at Watchman Campground can be made six months in advance.

Rock Formations In Zion Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

9) Arches National Park In Winter

Arches National Park is every rock and geology lover’s dream location. Photographers also flock to this park.

It is a popular spot, and many travelers would love to experience and photograph it with fewer crowds.

With a visit to Arches National Park in the winter, you can! The crowds lessen with the falling temperatures.

Winter Arches National Park Weather

The Arches National Park winter daytime high temperatures are usually above freezing at 30-50 degrees.

The nighttime lows are a chilly 0-20 degrees.

Arches National Park snow is very common. Large Arches snow is rare, but there usually is some snow.

The roads are plowed but check conditions before your arrival.

Best Time To Visit Arches National Park

Visiting Arches in the off-season with fewer crowds makes this park worth a winter visit.

The snow makes such a beautiful contrast against the rock formations. Arches is perfect for adding to your winter national park road trip.

Things To Do In Arches National Park

Most Arches trails remain open in winter as well as RV camping. The visitor center is also open but has reduced hours.

Stargazing is a popular park activity that is perfect for the chilly clear winter night skies.

Take the Arches Scenic Drive without the summer traffic. Taking the park roads and pullouts without all the people is scenic and relaxing.

A winter Arches National Park dusting of snow sets off the park’s red rock formations. It’s really something to see!

Also, don’t miss checking out Moab in the winter. This cute little town outside of Arches National Park has unique stores, restaurants, and breweries nestled among the red rocks.

Winter Arches National Park Hikes

This is a great winter hiking national park, but be sure to bring shoe traction devices to stay safe on the trails.

One of the best hikes in Arches National Park is especially scenic in the winter.

The Delicate Arch hike in winter provides the opportunity to photograph this beautiful rock formation without the crowds.

Photographers love this spot, but it can be tough to take pictures of the Delicate Arch in peak season with all of the people.

Winter is the season to enjoy this area with fewer crowds and sometimes even all to yourself.

Hiking to Delicate Arch often has ice in shady areas. Make sure to use a strap-on shoe traction device to keep from slipping.

Check with the park for trail conditions before heading out on a hike.

For a short and easy hike, check out the Double Arch Trail.

Winter Arches National Park Camping

There aren’t many campgrounds in Arches National Park available for winter camping.

The Devil’s Garden Campground Arches National Park is open in the winter for tent and RV camping.

This scenic campground has 51 campsites with surrounding areas of stunning red rocks.

In the winter season, Arches National Park camping is first-come, first served and has no option for reservations.

There are no campsite hookups, but a campground bathroom is available.

Bryce Canyon Winter

Bryce Canyon National Park can also be considered a possible best national parks for winter, but it often has colder temperatures and receives more snow than Zion or Arches.

You may want to consider another one of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks if you don’t want to camp in the snow during the winter season.

For those hearty campers, the North Campground is open year-round with 100 campsites for tents and RVs (50 are RV only sites).

Adventure Tip: There is limited cell service in this park. Download national park service park maps and other information before your visit.

Rock Formations In Arches Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

Avoid BUGS Visiting National Parks In Winter

In the South, the bugs can ruin outdoor fun. Between the mosquitos and the no-see-ums, you can feel like you are being eaten alive at times.

10) Everglades National Park Winter

We love visiting the Everglades in Florida, but the bugs, heat, and humidity can make it hard to enjoy.

The winter season is a much more comfortable mild temperature in the Everglades to enjoy outdoor activities.

Winter Everglades Weather

The winter months in Florida are the Everglades dry season with a dramatic drop in humidity and bugs.

Daytime high temperatures are warm and humid, in the 70s. Nighttime low temperatures are in the 50s.

Winter Everglades National Park weather is usually mild temperatures, but occasional cold snaps can get close to freezing.

Cold snaps don’t usually last long, though.

Best Time To Visit Everglades

The summer season is the Everglade’s wet season. This wet weather is also the Everglades mosquito season.

When you combine the rain and mosquitos with the extreme heat and humidity, summer in the Everglades can almost be unbearable.

Winter is dryer and more comfortable to be able to enjoy the park.

Winter is also the peak season in Everglades National Park. It is more crowded, and you want to reserve camping and activities ahead of time.

Best Winter Things To Do Everglades National Park

There are so many unique things to do in the Everglades!

One must-do park activity is to take an Everglades National Park boat tour.

During our visit, we took one of the Everglades airboat tours, and there isn’t anything quite like an airboat.

It was so exciting and our favorite activity we did in Everglades National Park. 

There is also a tram tour, additional park boat tours, hiking, boardwalk trails, paddling, biking, park camping, and Eco Tent rentals.

There are so many park activity choices that you will never be left wondering what to do in Everglades National Park.

Winter Hikes In The Everglades

The winter weather is just perfect for Everglade’s hikes.

Everglades national park hiking lets you enjoy the scenery and often see park wildlife like birds and alligators.

Getting out on the Everglades trails is so much more enjoyable with less heat and bugs.

We still recommend bug spray for any outdoor park activities in the Everglades.

The best hike in Everglades National Park may just be the Anhinga Trail. This Everglades hike is an easy short loop, and you have a good chance of spotting wildlife.

Also, check out the Pahayokee Overlook. This boardwalk ends at an overlook to really get a bird’s eye view of the area.

Winter Everglades National Park Camping

Winter is the peak Everglades camping season. All camping areas are open, and it helps to make reservations as far in advance as possible.

You can reserve Everglades campgrounds six months before your arrival date, as campsites book up quickly in winter.

The Flamingo Campground and the Long Pine Key Campgrounds in the Everglades can accommodate both tent and RV campers.

The Flamingo Campground has electric hookups at the campsite. The Long Pine Key Campground has no hookups.

There is also backcountry Everglades camping available by permit. Always bring bug spray when camping in the Everglades.

Airboat Ride In Everglades Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

11) Dry Tortugas Winter 

Dry Tortugas National Park is the perfect warm national parks in winter getaway.

This tropical island paradise national park feels like you have left the US and headed to the Carribean.

Winter Dry Tortugas Weather

The winter season in South Florida is the dry season. There is less rain, humidity, and bugs.

The weather is perfect for outdoor activities.

Dry Tortugas National Park weather is beautiful in the winter, with an average daytime high temperature of 74-80 degrees.

The nightly park lows are 65-70 degrees. There are occasional cold snaps, but they don’t usually last long.

Best Time To Visit Dry Tortugas

The heat and humidity of summer are replaced with a much cooler and more comfortable winter park visit.

Hurricane season is also over after November, so the risk of severe weather is greatly decreased.

Winter is a great time to visit Dry Tortugas National Park with fewer crowds.

The winter season does come with a couple of drawbacks, though.

The ocean can be rough, which limits Dry Tortugas snorkeling visibility and makes motion sickness worse. The winter months are also very windy.

Dry Tortugas National Park Things To Do

Dry Tortugas National Park ferry or Dry Tortugas seaplane are the only ways to access the park.

Make your transportation reservations to visit this island national park as far in advance as possible.

The Dry Tortugas ferry is often sold out far in advance, and very limited trips are available for the Dry Tortugas National Park seaplane.

Dry Tortugas National Park snorkeling and diving are popular park activities. The clear water and reef are perfect for underwater adventures.

Exploring Fort Jefferson is both scenic and educational. Younger travelers can earn a Junior Ranger badge.

Dry Tortugas Camping

Some visitors to Dry Tortugas enjoy tent camping on the island versus just a single-day visit.

Dry Tortugas National Park camping is located on Garden Key near Fort Jefferson and is first come, first served unless you have a large group.

This camping area is primitive, with only compost toilets available. You need to bring all of your own supplies.

Campers can only arrive via boat as the gear is heavier than is allowed on the seaplane.

Camping Dry Tortugas is its own national park adventure!

Adventure Tip: The boat ride to Dry Tortugas National Park can be choppy. Bring motion sickness medication if needed.

Pro Tip: Before you plan camping at Dry Tortugas National Park, research the Dry Tortugas rats that come out at night.

I don’t have our own Dry Tortugas photo, but here is a photo from the Florida Keys.

Man And Girl Walking To Beach - Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

Most Beautiful U.S. National Parks To Visit In Winter

What if you don’t mind some snow and cold temperatures to be able to enjoy a winter wonderland?

So far, in this guide, I have focused on mild winter national parks. On our list, these next best national parks to visit in winter offer incredible snow-covered views.

12) Yellowstone In Winter

Yellowstone National Park in winter is really something to see. The snow really enhances the park’s beauty.

Plus, the park crowds are gone, and you can enjoy the scenery in complete solitude if you desire.

There are no Yellowstone park entrance reservations required in winter.

Best Time To Visit Yellowstone National Park

For travelers that don’t mind the snow and cold, Yellowstone is a best national park in winter.

Not only is a Yellowstone National Park winter spectacular, but it is a fun adventure.

The roads are usually closed from the middle of December to the middle of March.

Visitors to Yellowstone National Park in the winter get around by snow coach and snowmobile. How fun!

Yellowstone Winter Temperatures

Yellowstone National Park in the winter is extremely cold, with average daytime highs of 25-31 degrees.

Evening lows average 0-5 degrees and can get below zero at night.

Yellowstone snow is very common. The park gets around 150 inches in the lower elevations per year and twice that amount in the higher elevations of the park.

Winter Things To Do In Yellowstone National Park

There are unique winter park activities, such as Yellowstone snowmobile tours and ice fishing.

Other Yellowstone winter tours and winter sports include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Winter Yellowstone National Park Camping

Only backcountry camping in Yellowstone National Park is available during the winter season.

Tent campers must get a permit before winter backcountry camping Yellowstone National Park.

The Old Faithful Snow Lodge is open during winter and would be the perfect place to stay during your national parks winter visit.

I don’t have our own photo of Yellowstone, so here is another photo of Yosemite.

Waterfall And Granite Domes Reservations For Entrance To Yosemite National Park

13) Yosemite In Winter

For spectacular scenery, it’s tough to beat a Yosemite winter.

A dusting of snow makes a Yosemite Valley winter even more stunning.

Best Time To Visit Yosemite

Yosemite is one of our favorite national parks, but the crowds in Yosemite Valley can be tough to deal with.

Visiting in the winter is peaceful without all of the people, and the Yosemite Valley is still open with plenty to do and enjoy.

The exception is the Fire Fall event in February when Yosemite requires park entrance reservations and the crowds are heavy in the park.

Yosemite Weather Winter

Winter weather in Yosemite National Park is often chilly and snowy.

Winter Yosemite Valley weather is usually the warmest, with daytime highs between 45-50 degrees and lows from 26-30 degrees.

Yosemite snow is common but doesn’t always stick around long in the Valley. Snow is heavy and sticks around at higher park elevations.

Even though the Valley is open to cars year-round, you need tire chains if they are required due to weather.

The YARTS bus does still run to Yosemite Valley in winter.

Winter Activities In Yosemite

Popular winter activities in Yosemite include national park hiking, cross-country skiing, sledding, and downhill skiing.

Winter hiking Yosemite National Park is popular in Yosemite Valley and the Hetch Hetchy area. You can also snowshoe Yosemite.

The road is cleared up to the Badger Pass Ski Area (a favorite area for downhill skiing); however, Glacier Point is closed in the winter.

Ice skating in Yosemite at Curry Village may be the most fun and unusual Yosemite National Park winter activity.

Winter Yosemite National Park Camping

Winter lodging and winter camping are available within the park for winter travelers.

Winter campsites in Yosemite are available for tent and RV campers at Wawona Campground, Hodgdon Meadow Campground, and Upper Pines Campground.

Tent-only winter camping in Yosemite is available at Camp 4 Campground.

Half Dome At Sunset Reservations For Entrance To Yosemite National Park

Additional Most Beautiful Winter National Parks

Runner-up postcard-perfect national parks’ winter views are also found in Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Olympic National Park, and Grand Tetons National Park.

While these parks have absolutely stunning snow covered beauty in the winter months, national camping in feet of snow can be a challenge. You could always consider staying in one of the lodges for a classic experience. 

Bonus Must-See Winter Parks

These last two bonus parks aren’t national parks, but if you find yourself in Utah or Northern Arizona in the winter, you have to see these magical places.

14) Antelope Canyon Winter

Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona is a geological marvel. It’s a must-see beautiful stop any time of year.

This carved-out slot canyon looks like waves of red sandstone rock formations. It is just stunning.

Best Time To Visit Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon in winter is the perfect time to visit! The summer heat is intense, but the cool winter weather is perfect for outdoor exploring.

The best time to see Antelope Canyon is without the summer crowds. Winter gives you the space to really enjoy this special place.

Winter Antelope Canyon Weather

The winter daytime average temperature Antelope Canyon is 45-52 degrees.

Exploring the Antelope Slot Canyon does shield you from most of the wind. Make sure to dress in layers to stay comfortable.

Sunny days inside the canyon walls make the weather feel warmer in this park. 

The evening lows are a chilly 25-30 degrees on average.

Antelope Canyon snow is rare but beautiful for the lucky travelers who see it. Snow only averages about 2 inches per year in this area.

Things To Do In Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is beautiful from above, but you must hike through the slot canyon to view its stunning wavy rock walls.

Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land and is regulated by tourist companies.

This is great if you enjoy guided tours with groups of people, but keep reading to find out how you can explore the canyon on your own.

Upper VS Lower Antelope Canyon

It can be tough to choose which Antelope Canyon tours to take. All sections of the canyon are incredible.

Many photographers prefer to visit Upper Antelope Canyon.

It is especially scenic, with beams of light that stream through the top of the canyon at midday.

Lower Antelope Canyon tours are sometimes less crowded, and more tours are available.

The Lower Antelope Canyon tour is narrower to walk through and has a series of ladders to climb into the canyon.

Antelope Canyon X

A newer tour option for Antelope Canyon is visiting Canyon X. This is a great choice for travelers that want to visit the canyon with fewer crowds and for photographers.

Antelope Canyon Kayaking And Hiking

A lesser-known option to explore Antelope Canyon on your own is via kayak.

You can kayak on Lake Powell to the water portion of the canyon and then continue hiking Antelope Canyon on foot.

Going for an Antelope Canyon hike in winter is both peaceful and comfortable with the cooler weather.

Winter Camping Antelope Canyon

No camping at Antelope Canyon is available, but there are amazing campsites nearby.

Free BLM dispersed tent and RV camping is available on the shores of Lake Powell in undeveloped areas of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Another dry camping but developed campground in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the lake is the Lone Rock Beach Primitive Camping Area.

For RV campsites with hookups, check out Wahweap Campground & RV Park or Bullfrog RV & Campground.

Family In Antelope Canyon - Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

15) Monument Valley Winter

Our last bonus winter park is Monument Valley. This beautiful park isn’t a national park but worth visiting!

Monument Valley is famous for incredible photos and movie scenes with the desolate desert road and incredible rock plateau formations in the background.

Best Time To Visit Monument Valley

Crowds flock to this scenic location in the summer, making it tough to get that iconic photo without all the people in it.

Plus, the summer desert heat makes this area tough to enjoy. Monument Valley in winter really is an incredible and comfortable time to visit.

Winter Monument Valley Temperature

Winter daytime temperatures in Monument Valley average 40-50 degrees, with lows between 20-30 degrees.

Monument Valley snow is common, but it is often just a dusting and doesn’t hang around long.

Often the sun is out, and if there is no wind, Monument Valley is one of the warmer winter parks to visit. 

Winter Things To Do Monument Valley

Take the scenic 17-mile Valley Drive. This drive, also known as the Tribal Park loop, is an unpaved packed dirt road.

This drive begins at the visitor center and is a great way to see the rock formations.

In winter, without the crowds, you can really enjoy pulling off for photographs.

Winter Hiking Monument Valley

The only hike that you can enjoy in Monument Valley without a guide is the Wildcat Trail. This 3.2 mile scenic loop is lovely without the heat and crowds.

Infographic showing 5 best national parks to visit in winter.

FAQs Winter Camping National Parks

Can you visit national parks in winter?

You can visit national parks in winter! In fact, winter is the best time to visit many national parks without crowds. Those parks that receive a dusting of snow are extra beautiful.

Do national parks close in the winter?

The only national park that closes in the winter is Isle Royale National Park. Some roads, camping, and facilities are closed in cold weather parks during winter. Check the park website for closures and road conditions.

Which national parks are warm in the winter?

Desert national parks and Florida national parks are warm in winter. Some of the warmest winter national parks include Death Valley National Park, Saguaro National Park, Pinnacles National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Everglades National Park, and Dry Tortugas National Park.

Can you camp in national parks during winter?

Yes! You can camp in most national parks during winter. Some cold-weather national parks have less camping available than in other seasons. Check the park website for winter campsites. It also helps to reserve early since camping can be more limited.

Can you visit Utah’s national parks in the winter?

Yes, all 5 Utah national parks are open in winter. Winter is a great time to visit Utah parks. Not only are the crowds low, but the winters and early spring are often mild during the day. A dusting of snow is gorgeous against the red rock formations and often doesn’t stick around long.

Which Best Winter Camping National Parks Are You Most Excited To Visit?

There are so many great parks on this list. The outdoor adventures don’t have to stop just because winter is here.

I hope this inspires you to get out and enjoy one of the national parks this winter!

Which one would you love to take a winter getaway to? Comment below and let us know!

Want to know my secrets for booking hard to get national park campsites? Check out: How To Score Sold-Out National Park Campsites.

Looking for more national park inspiration? Check these out:   

9 Warmest National Parks To Visit In Winter

3 Most Unusual National Park Hikes

6 Worst National Parks And Where To Go Instead

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Enjoy your adventure detour!

Rocks In Arches - Best National Parks In Winter

Scott and Van Russell

Scott and Van Russell

Scott and Van of The Adventure Detour are travel writers focusing on RV travel, family outdoor travel, national parks travel, and hiking. They have been full-time RV living and traveling across the US since 2015. In 8 years of full-time RVing, they have visited 38 national parks so far with the ultimate goal to see them all. They work as digital nomads while roadschooling their daughter nicknamed Sissy. On the way to all 50 states, they have visited and hiked through 42 states so far. The travel bucket list is forever growing!

Full-Time RV Family In Front Of Mountains

Hello!

We are so glad you found us. We are Scott, Van & Sissy. We turned our love of travel into a 7 year full-time RV living adventure.

Our goal is to guide you to unique US travel destinations, share RV travel tips, and help you navigate full-time RV living.

Something that makes us different is our unfiltered approach. We choose to share both the benefits and the challenges of traveling and the full-time RVing lifestyle.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Kamree Price

    Love this Scott! I think visiting some of these really popular parks during the winter when they aren’t as busy and crowded is so awesome. We went to Arches last year in January and loved every second of it!

    Reply
    • Scott

      Thank you! We love when we can see the parks without the crowds. It is a completely different feeling! That is so neat that you got to see Arches in winter. I would love to see it with a dusting of snow. That would be so beautiful against the rocks. We went in the fall and it was lovely. We look forward to going back. Thanks again and take care!

      Reply

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