At These National Parks, it's Snow Problem

Fun Activities and Experiences for the Winter Season
Rebecca GuldinPursuits
A line of park visitors trek in the thick snow, alongside a ridge of snow-covered pine trees
Mount Rainier National Park - NPS Photo

Wintry mix? Plunging temperatures? At these national parks, it’s snow problem. In fact, cold weather is good weather. 

As some creatures hibernate, see national parks come to life in a whole new way during the winter months. Find yourself exploring the calm and quiet of snowy national parks by snowshoe, or as you whip down a hill on a toboggan. No matter how you experience national parks, winter is sure to become your new favorite season of adventure. 

You’re a shoe-in 

Sequoia trees blanketed in snow

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks


Many national parks allow snowshoeing, but what if you’re new to the sport? At Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, you need no experience to take a ranger-guided snowshoe walk in Grant Grove. Dress in warm layers and wear waterproof boots for this maximum 1.5 mile journey. Snowshoe walks begin as soon as a minimum of 8 inches accumulates on the ground and end when there is not enough snow. These tours accommodate 20 participants, so make a reservation ahead of time. Oh, and just because there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean you should leave the sunglasses and sunblock behind! 

Check out these tips for hiking in the winter before you head out into the snow. 

Cowabunga in Cuyahoga 

A child rides a teal plastic saucer, pulled in the snow by their parent, holding their own plastic saucer

Sledding on Kendall Hills, Cuyahoga National Park

NPS Photo

Grab your sled and head to Kendall Hills in Cuyahoga Valley National Park to feel the breeze on your balaclava and the snow in your scarf. Be sure to note the separate areas designated for sledding and tobogganing, and that some areas are closed to keep sled riders and skiers safe from crossing paths.  

While you’re out and about, see how many of these items you can knock off your winter scavenger hunt list! 

Nice Ice 

Sunlight gleams across an expanse of ice, streaked with tire tracks and lightly dusted in snow

Rainy Lake Ice Road, Voyageurs National Park

NPS Photo

National parks are amazing. Where else can you drive across an ice road as if you’re in your own reality TV show? In Voyageurs National Park, traverse the Kabetogama Lake Ice Road in the comfort of your own car. The road stretches between the boat launches of the Ash River and Kabetogama Lake Visitor Centers, and is open pending road conditions. Drivers must obey the 30 mph speed limit and drive only where the ice is plowed. 

Watchin’ in a Winter Wonderland 

Elk graze and lounge in a field covered in snow, dotted with snow-tipped trees

Elk at Rocky Mountain National Park

iStock / Coy St. Clair

Rocky Mountain National Park is spectacular any time of the year, but especially in winter. Take your wildlife viewing to the next level when you see moose drinking from the Colorado River or elk at dusk against a backdrop of new fallen snow. Birdwatchers will spy Steller’s jays, gray jays, Clark’s nutcrackers, and long-tailed black-billed magpies. Many park roads are open in the winter and visitors should always stay up-to-date on road conditions and weather changes. 

Looking for the max amount of birdwatching with minimal wintery weather? Fly south for the winter. 

Mush Ado About Mushing 

A team of dogs pull a dogsled through thickly blanketed snow, with snowy pine trees dotting the landscape

Dog Mushing at Denali National Park

NPS Photo

Denali National Park and Preserve is unlike any other for many reasons, but especially because it is the only national park that maintains a kennel of sled dogs. You may mush in this park if you have your own team or book a tour with a local business. Mushers should pay close attention to trail and weather conditions, and use extreme caution on some trails during the winter.

Light Up Your Life 

Green northern lights dance across the night sky, illuminating the mountain range and water below. A dark dock stretches into the mid-distance

Aurora borealis at Glacier National Park

NPS Photo / Flickr

Glacier National Park proves that half the park is after dark when visitors are treated to the spectacular light show the aurora borealis put on in the winter. Lake McDonald and Goat Haunt are your best bet for an unobstructed view of the natural phenomenon. While you’re there, take the opportunity to stargaze upon the dark night sky, an invaluable disappearing resource.

Winter Wonderlands Travel Guide
Immerse yourself in the beauty found only by experiencing winter in these national park wonderlands! Explore winter activities in 15 national parks, from stargazing to sledding and more!

Start a Conversation

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Stay Inspired
Connect with the parks you love. Sign up to receive the latest NPF news, information on how you can support our national treasures, and travel ideas for your next trip to the parks. Join our community.