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Essential Park Guide Winter 2016-17

Take A Break From Winter At Dry Tortugas National Park

As you shovel your walks, chip ice from your windshield, and brace against the winter wind, think some warm thoughts, because down south, the Dry Tortugas are calling your name. Stow the snow shovel for a few days to snorkel clear waters dancing with tropical fish, walk the sandy beaches for some relaxation, and watch our feathered-friends as they pass through. It’s beyond wonderful.

A Wintry Destination As Pretty And Inviting As A Painting

It was just for a day, but the late- September snowstorm that closed Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park sent a clear message: winter can come quickly, hard, and heavy in the park, turning it into a winter wonderland with endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment.

Katahdin Woods And Waters National Monument: A Pretty Magical Place

“Perhaps I most fully realized that this was primeval, untamed, and forever untamable Nature, or whatever else men call it, while coming down this part of the mountain.” — Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau’s impression of the Maine North Woods, penned during one of his three trips to the region in the 1840s and 1850s, more than likely would have been different had he visited in winter today.

Snow And Solitude Amidst Yosemite's Winter Splendor

There’s one sure-fire way for avoiding the crowds at Yosemite National Park: visit during the winter. Gone until May are the crowds that fill the Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and the Mariposa Grove. You’ll love the freedom from take-a-number tourism, and be mesmerized by the pure, clean, quiet whiteness. It just might seem like you have the place all to yourself.

Western Frontier: Early Forts Regale America's Fur Trade Era

In the early 1800s, following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, a host of scouts, soldiers, trappers and traders began venturing from St. Louis, eager to explore and exploit the natural riches to be found in the wilderness of the West. It was America’s new economic frontier. The expansion of the fur trade would introduce new cultures and trading partners to farsighted business entrepreneurs.

Around The Parks: Savoring Winter In Comfort

If you find yourself homebound for one reason or other this winter, there are two websites worth exploring for a quick national park fix: the National Park Service’s Treasured Landscapes site (which showcases art collections telling America’s stories) and the Open Parks Network (“350,000 cultural heritage objects and 1.5 million pages of gray literature...”). That’s a lot of information.

Three Days In Big Bend National Park

Quiet spreads across Big Bend National Park during the winter months, both in the lack of visitors to this grand rumpled slice of parkland in southwestern Texas as well as audibly. Silence pervades the Chihuahuan Desert, both day and night. The wind blows, but it’s felt more than heard. The Chisos Mountains are quiet as well. The cactus and Ocotillo plants look drab and thornier than usual without their brilliant spring blooms to grace and hide the sharp spikes. Cooler temperatures prevail, and occasional snow- or hail-storms punctuate the season.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide