Winter doesn’t exactly scream scenic hikes and picnics, but there are still plenty of natural attractions waiting to be enjoyed in the colder season. For some of these places, you’ll get the added bonus of snow. For others, you’ll simply enjoy fewer crowds and greater serenity. Either way, these top 8 natural attractions in the USA are definitely worth visiting in winter.
1. Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is known the world over as being one of the greatest natural attractions, and this stands true regardless of the season that you visit. The magnitude of the Grand Canyon truly must be experienced to be believed and if you’re lucky enough to time your visit after a snowfall, it will be even more magical.
2. Zion National Park, Utah
The popular Zion National Park boasts dramatic red rock formations that are beautiful all year round, but under a layer of winter snow, the park simply sparkles. Temperatures in Zion stay pretty mild throughout winter, although the nights will be cooler. Keep in mind that some trails will be closed, but the accessible magical views will more than make up for it.
3. Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls holds a strong position on USA bucket lists and for good reason. This iconic destination sits on the border between the USA and Canada and the power of the water is maintained through every season, so it won’t matter if you visit in winter. While many people tend to visit in summer because attractions like the Maid of the Mist boat experience don’t operate in winter, there is something special about visiting these falls in the snow. The town is buzzing with holiday cheer, the light show comes on earlier, and everything looks prettier under a layer of white!
4. Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee
The Smoky Mountains might be popular in fall when the leaves are vibrant shades of red and gold, but don’t overlook this destination for a winter getaway. When you picture a natural winter wonderland, this is it. The stunning lines of bare trees, glowing iced branches, and sparkling white everywhere you look. Snowshoeing is a great way to explore, allowing you to be active while also navigating the terrain to experience the best the national park has to offer. The main roads are well maintained so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting there, although beware that some of the trails will be closed.
5. Crater Lake, Oregon
The Crater Lake wouldn’t exist without the snow, so why not visit in winter to see the region in all its glory? The area gets a whopping 44 feet of snow each year, which then feeds into the glorious lake. While you won’t be boating in winter, you can participate in a range of other activities that will allow you to enjoy the magnificent alpine views. Skiing or snowshoeing are great options, with guided hikes operating each weekend,
6. Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
Given the soaring temperatures of Death Valley National Park in summer, it is much better to visit this natural attraction in winter. As the hottest place on Earth, the park boasts sunny days all year round but visiting in the cold season means you won’t have to battle the scorching heat. You’ll also be rewarded with a picturesque backdrop of snow-capped peaks.
7. Glacier National Park, Montana
As the name suggests, Glacier National Park is full of cold weather attractions. The park is home to an array of beautiful glaciers that are perhaps even more impressive against an environment of desolate, yet stunning, ice and snow. Take note that these glaciers will need to be accessed by skis or snowshoes if you visit in winter.
8. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
If the snow and cold isn’t your thing, don’t despair! The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Big Island offers exceptional natural scenery and tropical temperatures all year round. It’s the perfect place to see the power of nature while also escaping the cold.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com