Winter months can be a great time to visit our local state parks albeit cold. But the reduced crowds can make it worth it. When visiting state parks in winter, it’s essential to check for weather conditions, trail closures, and any special  requirements related to winter activities. 

Año Nuevo State Park, California

Worth visiting year round but winter may be the most dramatic time. Watch bull seals engage in battles for access to females, pregnant females come ashore to pup, and pups bask in the sun and learn to swim. During this season, the only way visitors can view the elephant seals here is on daily docent-guided walks over 3-4 miles of varied terrain. Reservations strongly encouraged. Docent tour Dec. thru March 31st

Grand Canyon, Arizona

A true nature lover’s paradise with seemingly endless hiking trails, stunning waterfalls and a bounty of campsites to take in stars in the night sky. Travelers can enjoy weather from sunny days to winter snow storms allowing for a transformation of the valley floor and canyon temples and butts in one visit. The south rim (North of Williams, AZ) is open all year round.

Letchworth State Park, New York

Known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park features stunning waterfalls, deep gorges, and picturesque landscapes. Winter transforms the park into a snowy wonderland. Within the park, there are three large waterfalls on the Genesee River and as many as 50 waterfalls found on tributaries that flow into it; the deep gorge formed by the river, with rock walls rising up to 550 feet.

Itasca State Park, Minnesota

Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park and offers a serene winter experience. The park’s highlight is Lake Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi River, which freezes in winter, providing a unique setting for exploration. Go for a ski, snowshoe or hike but be sure to check the latest snow depth and trail conditions report online.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Nevada’s first state park, Valley of Fire a geologic wonderland, and nature preservation area covering nearly 46,000 acres, located 16 miles south of Overton, Nevada. Try to stay for sunset  when the stunning landscape glows red. Admission: $15 entrance fee per vehicle ($10 for NV vehicles), per day. Overnight camping is $25 per night ($20 for NV vehicles), with an additional $10 for sites with utility hookups.

Again please keep in mind that weather can vary wildly during winter months. But do your research, be safe and enjoy all the possibilities a winter storm can bring lending to a memorable, stunning and magical vacation.