snowshoeing on a mountain

Grab your warmest gear for a winter park adventure. (Photo: Getty Images)

National Parks

9 U.S. National Parks with Epic Winter Sports

As snow falls and temperatures drop, America’s national parks transform into peaceful winter wonderlands where uncrowded trails and magical snowscapes reign supreme.

From Maine to Alaska, spend winter exploring these natural landscapes by skiing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and even dog-sledding in these nine national parks.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park’s winter landscapes range from jagged snowcapped peaks to dripping rainforests. When seeking snow, find unmatched mountain vistas at Hurricane Ridge, the park’s winter recreation epicenter.

With approximately 400 inches of annual snowfall, Hurricane Ridge is superb for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. If you don’t own snowshoes, join ranger-guided snowshoe tours where equipment is provided.

Ride one of the few chairlifts inside a national park at Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area for easier, groomed skiing. Or bring a backcountry setup and hike to steep bowls and glades deserving of the trek. Take kids tubing at the ski area, or let littles under 8 slide for free at the Small Children’s Snowplay Area.

Yosemite National Park, California

ice climber in yosemite
Winter sports kick into gear in Yosemite. (Photo: Getty Images)

At the grand jewel of the National Park System, Yosemite National Park, granite monoliths and frozen waterfalls dazzle under a dusting of snow. Go snowshoeing amid towering redwoods, cross-country ski to Glacier Point, or join rangers on nighttime snowshoe hikes under the full moon.

Down in the valley, skate with Half Dome as your backdrop on the Curry Village ice rink. When fresh snow’s in the forecast, head for Badger Pass Ski, Tube and Snowboard Area for affordable, beginner-friendly skiing.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park’s otherworldly red rock hoodoos delight year-round, but a fresh dusting of snow on these vermillion and tangerine towers adds extra drama. See them on groomed cross-country ski and snowshoe trails along the canyon rim, or ski and snowshoe unplowed roads through the park.

If outfitted with snowshoes or shoe traction devices, hike into the canyon on the Fairyland or Navajo Loop where rock towers soar to 150 feet. Join rangers for free weekend astronomy tours and full moon snowshoe hikes under Bryce’s dark, starry skies.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

climbers in grand teton
Get your gear ready for a Grand Teton climb. (Photo: Getty Images)

Cross-country ski beneath the Tetons or spot herds of bison and elk on a winter trip to Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Often overrun in summer, winter offers an opportunity to see this park in a wild, undisturbed state.

Snow closes many roads to vehicle traffic, allowing snowshoers and cross-country skiers to take to the streets on unplowed sections of Teton Park and Moose-Wilson roads. Get into the wilderness on ranger-guided snowshoe tours of Taggart Lake, or cross-country ski to iconic Jenny Lake.

If biking’s your jam, rent a fat bike in Jackson Hole or book a bike tour to pedal safely on snowy mountain roads.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Spanning the Continental Divide and encompassing mountains, forests and high alpine terrain, Rocky Mountain National Park wows in winter. Silent forests brimming with fresh snow call visitors to break trail in this wondrous snowscape. Sign up for a reservable, ranger-led snowshoe tour, and when solitude calls, glide along forest trails and unplowed winter roads on cross-country skis.

As one of the Front Range’s best backcountry ski destinations, the park draws eager skiers and splitboarders who can earn their turns on 265,000 acres of accessible terrain. Ski the peaks or hike up to Hidden Valley, a former ski resort closed in 1991, for easier, wide-open terrain. Bringing the family? Pack tubes and slide down the resort’s old bunny hill.

Denali National Park, Alaska

skier in denali
Carve snow in Denali. (Photo: Getty Images)

Catch a rare glimpse of the aurora borealis while exploring 6 million wilderness acres in Denali National Park. The freezing, snowy landscape of North America’s largest mountain may seem uninviting in winter, but the park is open for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, winter biking and even dog-sledding.

Be prepared for below zero temperatures, and bring your own ski and snowshoe gear as rentals are unavailable.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Tucked along the Cuyahoga River in Ohio, between Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is technically urban, but its preserved forests, hills and ancient icicle-topped outcroppings feel worlds apart from city life. Brave winter’s chill to cross-country and downhill ski, snowshoe and sled throughout the park.

When temperatures plummet, snowshoe to Brandywine Falls and hope the 65-foot waterfall is frozen into solid blue ice. Visit the Winter Sports Center at Kendall Lake to rent equipment, or ski for the day at Boston Mills and Brandywine ski areas.

Yellowstone National Park; Idaho, Wyoming, Montana

Stretching into Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, Yellowstone was our nation’s first national park and is one of the most popular — and crowded — to visit. But many feet of snow fall from November to March, remaking it into a peaceful winter playground where bison roam. From Mammoth Hot Springs to West Yellowstone, explore the park under your own power on Yellowstone’s endless snowshoe and cross-country ski trails.

With most park roads closed, snowcoach shuttles and snowmobile tours are the way to explore deeper into the landscape. Cozy snowcoaches fuse the concept of a 13-passenger van and a sleigh, allowing visitors access to ski trails and iconic geothermal features. Or go snowmobiling with authorized guides to whiz past herds of bison and the Old Faithful geyser.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Willing to brave a Northeast winter? Acadia National Park on Maine’s Mount Desert Island is a serene escape where snow and solitude collide. Though much of the Park Loop Road closes due to snow, you can explore Jordan Pond, see waves crash at Thunder Hole and walk along Sand Beach. Unplowed roads are open to skiers or snowshoers, with 45 miles of carriage roads explorable on cross-country skis.

For the full Acadia experience, rise before dawn and hike (or drive) to Cadillac Mountain’s summit for sunrise. As the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard, the summit is the first place in the U.S. where the rising sun is visible (from October 7 through March 6).

When snow falls, don’t miss the rugged cliff walk to Bass Harbor Head Light — Maine’s most photographed lighthouse.