Wintertime Fun Across The Parks

Statue of Liberty in Silhouette : NPS PhotoThe Coalition of National Park Service Retirees have issued a fun press release today that includes seven different parks that you may want to visit this approaching winter. I like the idea. The release is titled "Beyond Yellowstone: Seven Winter Travel Favorites." Typically, winter travel stories in the parks give too much emphasis to Yellowstone and its snowmobile policies, and so it is refreshing to read about other places and activities around the park system.

The seven destinations described in the release are:
  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore - Wintertime magically transforms the Lake Superior shoreline at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore into a frozen fairyland.
  • Mount Rainier National Park - Storm tracks in the northwest bring enormous snowfall to this area, in some years exceeding 1,000 inches of snow for the season.
  • Dry Tortugas National Park - Not all winter national park visits have to involve waist-deep snow and sub-zero temperatures! (located among the Florida Keys)
  • Big Bend National Park - "For birders, Big Bend is a great place to build those all-important life lists. "
  • Yosemite National Park - "For those who want to get away from civilization and are willing to engage in a bit of strenuous activity, Ostrander Ski Hut is a wonderful destination"
  • Cabrillo National Monument - Between mid-December and March, it is possible to see pods of gray whales as they migrate from summer feeding areas off Alaska to sheltered bays in Baja California.
  • Statue of Liberty - To avoid long lines, plan a winter trip when visitation is way down.

I must agree with the last point made about the Statue of Liberty. Visitation goes way down across the entire park system during the winter. Maybe that is why it is one of my favorite seasons to visit the parks! At Devils Tower a couple years ago, I have such a specific memory of being surrounded by total silence ... no cars, no RVs, no iPods, no generators, no kids running through the campground. Even the babbling brooks take a break from the noise when they freeze up. The experience is so much different from a summer time visit (not better, just different). With no people around, you've got the trails all to yourself. Hmmmm, I wish I were there now.