The National Parks in North America are some of the most fascinating places on earth. With beautiful snow and slightly less tourist traffic, winter is the perfect time to finally make the trip. Although it is not the most traditional way to celebrate the holidays, it is a fun and unique experience to switch up your routine from the usual.

While some of the visitor centers will be closed on the actual day of Christmas, the remaining areas of the parks will stay open to the public all throughout the year. Whether you have had your eye on a specific place for a while or you just need some fresh ideas for a holiday vacation, you can scroll through this list of the best winter park locations and mark your calendar to visit your favorite one this Christmas.

Glacier Bay National Park – Alaska, United States

Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska is one of the most ideal places to visit during the Christmas season. In the winter months, guests can participate in special winter wildlife viewings of the animal species that come out in the snow. Along with the thick blankets of snow that cover the trees and mountaintops, the park is full of black-tailed deer and moose that you will most likely come in contact with during your trip.

You can also expect to see Canada geese and mallards in the areas that are closest to the water, along with various other water birds that reside in the Southeast area of the park’s perimeter. They don’t call it Glacier Bay for no reason. In fact, visitors can see tons of icy frozen glaciers all throughout the wilderness preserve during hikes and sledding trips across the park.

For families with young children or those who are less active in general, more relaxing activities can still be enjoyed throughout Glacier Bay. If you have a portable stove or some kind of thermos set that will enclose heat, you can take a day out of your trip to have a nice picnic in the snow. No matter what you decide to do, just be sure to bundle up and bring a lot of blankets with you.

Glacier Bay National Park

Image source: National Park Service

Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona, United States

Due to the warm climate in Arizona, most people would be surprised to find out that Grand Canyon is actually open outside of the spring and summer seasons. Known for its unique geology and hiking trails to the top of the rock formations, the average person would not think to plan a trip here around the holidays.

However, these statements could not be more false. In fact, taking a hike through Grand Canyon National Park is actually a much better experience during the winter when it is less crowded. Even though the red and orange rocks are covered in snow during the holidays and the weather is freezing, the experience is surprisingly still amazing.

Grand Canyon National Park is among the most family-friendly destinations for those who would like to spend Christmas in a park, with a real-life Polar Express train for everyone to enjoy. The train circles around the entire park offering captivating views of the canyon on both sides. The ride also includes freshly baked cookies and interesting holiday stories told by Santa Claus himself, or someone dressed just like him.

Grand Canyon National Park

Image source: Pixabay

Everglades National Park – Florida, United States

Everglades National Park is an expansive wilderness area located in Florida with a beautiful subtropical climate. To be exact, the land covers over one and a half million acres in the southernmost area of the state.

Along with the grassy environment and calm, flowing rivers, there are hundreds of unique species of animals that thrive in the park. Some of the animals you might see during your trip include manatees, dolphins, bald eagles, panthers, and even alligators near the water’s edge.

Although the Everglades remains open throughout the winter months, there is no winter season in the park. More specifically, the cold weather that usually occurs in winter will not reflect in the climate of the Everglades. In fact, there is only a wet season and a dry season, so don’t expect to see the wilderness covered in snow during your Christmas trip.

Everglades National Park

Image source: National Park Service

Zion National Park – Utah, United States

Zion National Park is home to a massive lodge with over 100 guest rooms that stays open during the holiday season. The best part about these accommodations is the fact that there are no televisions in any of the rooms. Additionally, there are no loud bar or club venues located in or near the resort at all that could potentially cause disruptions throughout the night. The combination of all of these factors results in a very peaceful stay for those who prefer to stay inside and enjoy the scenery from their hotel room window.

Besides the relaxing sleeping quarters that are available at Zion National Park, there is something for everyone to enjoy during their holiday trip. Hiking enthusiasts can travel to Angel’s Landing or Emerald Pools, two of the most strikingly beautiful mountaintop destinations with unbeatable views.

On Christmas Day, there is a huge Christmas Buffet with premium cuts of meat and lots of other specialty menu items that are only available for this one day out of the entire year.

The staff of the Zion National Park Lodge understands how difficult it is to enjoy a freshly prepared meal while you are on the go and stay in a compact hotel room as you usually would on Christmas Day, which is why they continue to offer this annual festivity. The Christmas Buffet is perfect for families who are traveling for the holidays and would still like to experience something together that feels a little bit like home during their travel plans that are less than traditional.

Zion National Park

Image source: Flickr

Banff National Park – Alberta, Canada

The Banff National Park is actually the oldest national park in the entire country of Canada. It is located in the rocky mountain region and is home to multiple sparkling glacier lakes and energetic wildlife species all throughout. When the weather gets colder, these gorgeous glaciers will freeze over and turn into ice.

The visitors of Banff National Park during the holidays can take scenic drives through the park while staring upward at the tall peaks or travel on foot to hike up the side of the mountains. Especially for the winter season, there is a long list of activities to enjoy that are not otherwise available at Banff National Park, including ice skating on the frozen Lake Louise, taking sleigh rides pulled by a horse, and riding through the park on a snowmobile.

Banff National Park

Image source: GoodFreePhotos

Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado, United States

The Rocky Mountain National Park is almost completely deserted in the winter months as far as tourist traffic goes, especially during the Christmas season when most people are not even thinking of traveling to the park. As a result, the snowy, rocky canyons are more silent and peaceful than they ever will be throughout the rest of the year.

The holidays are a great time to travel to Rocky Mountain National Park and observe the wildlife including deer, elk, and snowshoe hares that thrive in the snowy climate. Fewer people walking around the park translates to fewer disturbances for the peaceful animals that reside there, so you will be much more likely to see them out and about during your holiday trip to Rocky Mountain than you would in the Spring or Summer. Visitors can also enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoe tours guided by park rangers.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Image source: Flickr

Mount Rainier National Park – Washington, United States

Mount Rainier National Park has always been known for its huge active volcano that stretches thousands of feet into the air. However, most people don’t know about the expansive glaciers that lie in the valley below. In fact, there are 25 distinct glaciers that never melt, collectively forming the most lasting ice in one place throughout the United States as a whole.

A visit to Mount Rainier during the Christmas season could include snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, and riding through the park in a snowmobile. Just like the name of the park suggests, there are plenty of slopes down the side of the mountains that are ideal for these kinds of activities. No matter what activities you choose to partake in, Mount Rainier is a great holiday trip for the whole family.

Mount Rainier National Park

Image source: National Park Service

Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming, United States

Covered in bright white snow, Yellowstone National Park is truly one of the best places to visit for Christmas. There is so much snow covering the area that travelers will actually have to drive into the Old Faithful Snow Lodge on the back of a snowmobile because the weather conditions are too severe to travel on foot.

Guests of Yellowstone can take hikes through the snow or simply wander through the trees near the geysers and spot some wildlife along the way. This park is most famous for its active geyser called Old Faithful, which gave the snow lodge its name.

Millions of people travel to Yellowstone every year to see Old Faithful blow steam into the air, and this process does not stop during the winter. If you ever get to witness the explosion, you will see snow being launched into the air against the blue sky.

If you happen to miss the event, you will still be able to see the other things that Yellowstone is known for, which are the “ghost trees”. These trees are located near the geyser and have lost all of their leaves due to the powerful flow of air that is frequently produced right next to them. Over the years, they have become a significant landmark that can be found in different places throughout the park.

Yellowstone National Park

Image source: National Park Service

Yosemite National Park – California, United States

One of the oldest National Parks in North America, Yosemite is nothing less than spectacular. This is even truer during the Christmas season when the entire landscape is covered in a fresh layer of snow.

Holiday visitors of Yosemite can trek through the winter wonderland and take in all of the bright colors, or speed past the trees on a pair of skis. Alternatively, they can ice skate on top of frozen bodies of water or slide down the side of a hill on top of an inflatable tube or a plastic sled.

The winter is actually one of the best times to visit Yosemite National Park, with so many more activities available than the traditional hike through the Mist Trail that is increasingly popular in the summer.

Yosemite National Park

Image source: Flickr

Virgin Islands National Park – St John, US Virgin Islands

Last but certainly not least, the Virgin Islands National Park is located on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. With a plethora of beaches that are bursting with vibrant coral reefs, the island is also home to green forests and bright blue waters.

Although most people would think to visit this park during the summer months when they can swim in the ocean and layout on the warm sand, there is an equal amount of fun activities to do in the winter. You most likely will not see any snow on the islands, but the winds will be strong and the water will be ice cold.

Guests of Virgin Islands National Park during the Christmas season can rent Jeeps to drive through the scenic paths or take hikes through the tropical forests. Additionally, visitors can travel to the Annaberg Sugar Plantation ruins to tour the historic grounds.

Virgin Islands National Park

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

In conclusion, North America is bursting with captivating National Parks that spread all throughout the continent. As you can see, there are beautiful nature preserves in every country, with just as many fun things to do in the winter as there are during the warmer seasons of the year. So after reading through the amazing features of each location in this list, which park will you choose to visit this year for Christmas?