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Why wait for summer to take a vacation? Winter can be a wonderful time for a getaway, often bringing far fewer crowds and sometimes good discounts too. You might be able to hole up in a cozy cabin or beautiful lodge, surrounded by a snowy wonderland, cozying up to the warmth of a fire while watching the flakes gently fall. In some cases, the climate will be mild enough for scenic hikes. Of course, snow brings all sorts of other opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors from snowshoeing to cross-country skiing. Whatever you’re dreaming of, these national parks offer some of the best options for an unforgettable escape this winter.
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Grand Teton National Park is home to some of America’s most awe-inspiring mountain scenery as well as being abundant in wildlife like moose, elk and bison. In the winter, it becomes a dazzling wonderland, offering a tranquil escape with few visitors, opportunities for activities in the snow and incredible photo-ops. Triangle X Guest Ranch is open year-round offering secluded, comfortable lodging in cozy cabins with views of the snow-capped peaks. It offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, photography, and wildlife watching right out your door along with four-star dining and an outdoor hot tub.
Home to Mount Rainier, the most famous mountain in Washington State soaring over the Puget Sound at more than 14,400 feet, Mount Rainier National Park is a fantastic escape for winter. It means a peaceful snowy landscape with much of the local life, other than the white-tailed ptarmigan and snowshoe hare, fast sleep under nature’s deep white blankets. This is one of the world’s top spots for snow lovers, with an average of 640 inches annually, and at the Paradise snow play area, visitors can enjoy tubing, snowboarding, and guided snowshoe walks. National Park Inn, tucked among the trees in the Historic Longmire District is just a short drive from the Paradise area, the National Park Inn offers guestrooms and a roaring fire to cozy up next to while sipping hot tea.
One of the most stunning lakes you’ll lay eyes on, with deep emerald waters surrounded by forested shoreline and mountains, Lake Crescent sits inside Olympic National Park and along its banks is Lake Crescent Lodge, offering a serene winter retreat. Its Roosevelt Fireplace Cabins are the most popular, offering winter getaways for overnight stays on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, they include cozy fireplaces that are ideal for enjoying the unbeatable mountain or lake views.
Yosemite in the winter is an unforgettable site sight with its mighty sequoias, sheer dramatic cliffs and looming granite El Capitan dusted with snow against a nearly always brilliant blue sky. Average daytime temperatures won’t be frigid, typically in the low 50s, but it’s a lovely time for enjoying outdoor activities and few crowds. Take in beautiful views while snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or ice skating, then enjoy a stay at the historic Ahwahnee, sitting next to the warmth of the huge lobby fireplace. Over the winter visitors can also enjoy special holiday events and meals.
In the winter, guests can take advantage of shuttle service from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Montana to the park’s north entrance with this season one of the best times for a visit. Enjoy seclusion, tranquility, and a better opportunity for spotting the elusive wolf and their bison and elk prey. Stay at Old Faithful Snow Lodge, located at about 7,300 feet in elevation, to enjoy a variety of explorations, either on your own or with a guide on cross-country skis or snowshoes, exploring miles and miles of trails which pass brilliantly colored mineral pools, erupting geysers and frozen falls.
Zion Lodge is the only option for staying right inside Zion National Park, and it’s open in the winter, hosting spacious guest rooms and suites with private porches or balconies and modern amenities. The front lawn is ideal for stargazing, fantastic on a clear winter’s night. The red rock canyon country is spectacular anytime with its surreal, mystical qualities, but this time of year there’s something even more magical – and, visitors can enjoy reduced rates through special packages, including options for the holidays.
Big Bend in the Chihuahuan Desert is one of the country’s darkest locations, ideal for stargazing, and the Chisos Mountain Lodge is the only accommodation inside the national park. It sits at an elevation of 5,400 feet tucked within the Chisos Basin, open year-round. It offers a variety of accommodation in rooms and cottages, along with a dining room, gift shop and a small store. With daytime highs typically around 60 degrees, snow is usually found only in higher elevations. Enjoy hikes with several trails starting right from the lodge’s parking lot, including the famous Window Trail.
El Tovar Hotel, the crown jewel of the lodges at Grand Canyon National Park, is open year-round and sits right along the rim of the Grand Canyon as it has since 1905. Back then, it was so remote that fresh water had to be delivered by train. Today you’ll find plenty of modern amenities with rooms that are all distinctly unique. Each has a sitting room and several of the suites come with a porch or balcony for gazing out at the canyon. The lodge offers lower rates during the winter, allowing visitors to escape the crowds and immerse themselves in nature. El Tovar has served past presidents and celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Paul McCartney.