December 16, 2022 at 11:11 pm #429557Paul BParticipant
If you hike in Yosemite Valley in the summer and you’ll be met with hundreds of visitors. But if it’s winter and you’ll have plenty of breathing room. Winter at national parks means quiet and solitude. Just be sure to check conditions and bring the proper equipment, whether that’s microspikes for your shoes or anti-freeze water bottles. Don’t let cold weather stop you from exploring. These eight trails in some of my favorite national parks may be even better in the winter.
Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch Loop, Death Valley, California
Connect Golden Canyon with the Gower Gulch Loop, starting at Death Valley’s Golden Canyon trailhead, for a four-mile loop. November to February temperatures range between 40 and 77 degrees, making for ideal hiking weather. You can tack on additional sections for a total of roughly eight miles. Slot canyons, colorful mineral-deposited rocks, some minor scrambling, and expansive badlands views. It’s a perfect winter destination due to the lack of shade, which makes it very undesirable in the summer.
Yosemite Valley Loop, Yosemite National Park, California
Much of Yosemite is covered in snow this time of year, but the Yosemite Valley Loop remains relatively dry in winter and sees temperatures from the high 20s to low 50s. This 11.5-mile loop is one of the most underrated trails in the park. You connect all the major sites in the Valley with sections of solitary forest and riverside walking. Most of these trails are old wagon roads, so they’re relatively flat and pleasant.
Jud Wiebe Trail in Telluride, Colorado
From the top of this trail, which starts and ends right in town, you can watch skiers conquering the slopes at Telluride Ski Resort or imagine life in this charming mountain town. Telluride may be known for its snow, but thanks to Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine, this approximately three-mile hiking trail remains relatively dry year-round. And if you happen to visit after a big snowstorm, strap on a pair of microspikes and bundle up, and don’t forget to get enough warmth.
When it comes to keeping warm, except layer up, you’ll need a rechargeable hand warmer to fight the cold weather. Such as the Ocoopa Union 5S rechargeable hand warmer which can heat for 15 hours constantly.
Roundabout Trail in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
This cowboy ranching town has produced more winter Olympians than any other spot in America, and once you’re there, it’s easy to see why. The town lives for winter — and while Steamboat Ski Resort is family-friendly, it has its fair share of expert terrain.
Watchman Trail in Zion National Park, Utah
The dry heat of southern Utah that typically deters hikers in the summer is long gone by the winter months. The Mars-like landscape of Zion National Park is just as beautiful in the winter — and more so if you happen to catch it with snow. In an easy three miles round-trip, this trail transports you to a land of sandstone spires and prickly pear cacti that bask under the desert sun year-round.
Taylor Creek Trail, Zion National Park, Utah
The five-mile round-trip Taylor Creek Trail starts in the less-visited Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park. This hike is a fantastic winter option because it involves over 30 crossings over Taylor Creek, which is frozen and easier to cross in the winter. Once you enter the finger of Kolob Canyon, the towering sandstone walls rise above you as you hike through the lush riparian zone.
Mazama Ridge Snowshoe Trail in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
It’s practically impossible to visit or live in Washington without noticing Mount Rainier. The massive and active volcano tops out at 14,410 feet above sea level and seems to dominate the landscape. You can play at the foot of Rainier, where you’ll find beautiful wildflower meadows, year-round, but there’s something a little extra special about getting out when the peak is covered in snow.
Thunder Creek, North Cascades National Park, Washington
The out-and-back Thunder Creek Trail covers 12 miles in total and climbs around 4,900 feet. It’s especially beautiful in the colder months when temperatures range from eight to 30 degrees. Winter is a great time to hike the North Cascades because although heavy rain falls on the area, the trees stay green, and the understory flourishes. The trail weaves through an old-growth forest of Douglas firs and cedars. The cloudy turquoise waters of Thunder Creek get their color from glacial flour, the result of modern-day glaciers grinding down bedrock into a fine powder.
Hope you have a nice hiking experience and don’t forget to keep warm!
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