Photos

The 10 Best National Park Hikes for Winter

While the summer crowds hibernate, you can cure your cabin fever. Here are the 10 best national park hikes to do during the cold-weather months.

Swamp Canyon Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park

Best National Park Hikes for Winter - Bryce Canyon National Park
James Marvin Phelps

The contrast of red rock, white snow, and blue sky leaves hikers speechless after an 800-foot climb to the Swamp Canyon overlook,” says Janice Stock, a Bryce Canyon NP spokesperson. Although not as dramatic as other viewpoints, swamp canyon is surrounded by fins and hoodoos that hikers can explore for peace and quiet. 4.3 miles; moderate.

Marble Falls Trail, Sequoia National Park

Best National Park Hikes - Sequoia National Park
John Fowler

As temperatures cool, wildflowers blanket the foothills in Sequoia, making this trail perfect for late winter months. This trail weaves up a mountain canyon about 2,400 feet in elevation to reach Marble Falls, a breathtaking waterfall. 8 miles; moderate.

South Rim, Big Bend National Park

Best National Park Hikes for Winter - Big Bend National Park
Kirk Kittell

“This trail can be deadly in the summer, since \”temperatures run extremely high and the path lacks shade and water,\” Claudia Arnberger of Big Bend National Park says. But it’s a perfectly pleasant overnight trip in the colder months. The climb spans cliffs, canyons, and plateaus over a 2,150-foot elevation gain and an incredible view of Sierra del Carmen and the Dead Horse Mountains. 14 miles; strenuous

Mirror Lake Trail, Yosemite National Park

Best National Park HIkes - Yosemite
Oleg Brovko

“The Mirror Lake trail leads across multiple footbridges while snaking alongside Tenaya Creek. This trail tells the story of the “lake-to-meadow succession” of Mirror Lake through exhibits along the path and is open throughout winter except in the case of unusually heavy snowfall. 5 mile loop; easy

Sand Bench Trail, Zion National Park

Best National Park Hikes - Zion
GuneyCuceloglu

Used primarily by horses during the summer, this trail is great for hikers during the winter. It gains about 500 feet in elevation in order to reach a breathtaking view of the Court of Patriarchs. The sandy path makes it a slower hike, but it is one of the least-populated trails in all of Zion. 3.5 miles; easy

Cadillac North Ridge Trail, Acadia National Park

Best National Park Hikes for Winter - Acadia

Cadillac Mountain is the first point to see the sunrise in the U.S. and remains largely accessible year-round despite frosty Maine temps. This trail is a prime spot to see snowy owls, Kathryn Grant of Acadia National Park says, adding that the contrast of snow-covered mountains against the blue ocean makes it even more striking during the winter months. 4.4. miles; moderate

Wildrose Peak Trail, Death Valley National Park

Best National Park Hikes - Death Valley National Park

You don’t want any part of Death Valley in the summer, but the Wildrose Peak Trail is perfect for winter blues. The trail leads to incredible views as hikers ascend the highest section of the Panamint Mountains for a panorama featuring Mount Whitney and the Panamint Mountains. 8.4 miles; strenuous

Rowdy Bend Trail, Everglades National Park

Best National Park Hikes - Everglades

Escape Florida’s balmy summers by visiting Everglades National Park during the dry season from December- April. Rowdy Bend Trail is optimal for woodland bird watching in the coastal prairie land and shady buttonwoods. This trail can be made into a longer 12.6-mile loop by combining it with the Snake Bight Trail. 5.2 miles; easy

Porters Creek Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Best National Park Hike - Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Reaching 2,600 feet in elevation, this trail remains fairly unaffected by road closures and winter snowstorms. Highlights include the Ownby Cemetery, an early 1900’s Smoky Mountain Hiking Club cabin and Fern Branch Falls, a beautiful 60-foot waterfall. 

4 miles; moderate

49 Palms Oasis Trail, Joshua Tree National Park

Best National Park Hikes for Winter - Joshua Tree National Park

California’s benign winter climate offers perfect conditions for this normally scorching desert trek. Hikers will enjoy the barrel cacti before descending into a rocky canyon where a palm-tree shaded oasis awaits. 

3 miles; moderate

While the summer crowds take the cold months off, you can cure your cabin fever by trying out these winter-friendly trails.

Don’t see a park near you on this list? Find more national park hikes here. Call up the ranger station and they’ll be happy to recommend trails that remain accessible year round.