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Essential Park Guide, Winter 2016: So Many Options In The Parks


There are plenty of options, all across the National Park System during the winter months.

You can cross-country ski through Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, experience the wintry wonders of the brand-new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine, soak up the sunshine on a beach at Virgin Islands National Park in the Caribbean, or simply watch it snow while planning next summer’s vacation.

Winter is peak season in Everglades National Park and neighboring Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida, as it is in Death Valley National Park in California and Nevada. But, it’s the low season in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. For those who venture there, however, the lack of leaves in the forests opens up vistas normally hidden in summer.

You can see where this is going. There are so many ways to enjoy the national parks this winter that your toughest task won’t be finding possibilities; it more likely will be deciding on which one or two to pursue.

To help you decide, Rebecca Latson took her pen along with her cameras to describe three days in Big Bend National Park in Texas. In her story she points out some nice drives and hikes in this well-known, but seemingly overlooked, national park.

On page 22 of this Essential Park Guide you’ll also find details on three wintry destinations scattered across the northern tier of the country: Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

And, plan your next spring or summer trip. Jane Schneider visited Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site in Colorado and got a lesson in Western history prior to the Indian Wars. This site, and some of the others she describes, is short on crowds, and long on history. They’ll leave you with a deep understanding of our colorful Western history and these park units.

If anything, the National Park System offers too many options. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, is it?

We'll be rolling these and other stories out on the Traveler through the months ahead, though you can also order a hard copy ($9.95) or digital version ($2) now and enjoy it at your leisure.

Essential Park Guide, Winter 2016-17

By Kurt Repanshek in National Park Advocates, LLC

38 pages, published 10/31/2016

Your Essential Park Guide to exploring the National Park System for winter 2016-17.
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Winter is a great time to visit Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Coolidge, AZ (an hour southeast of Phoenix).

It was the first archaelogical reserve in the U.S. (1892) and has been a national monument since 1918. The monument preserves remains of an ancient Hohokam-era farming village as well as the enigmatic Great House, which was completed in 1350.

More info is on the website at 

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National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide