Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta Canada

Winter is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, and while there may be snow and cold temperatures, that doesn’t mean outdoor adventures and adventures have to go into hibernation.

There are plenty of winter activities during these cooler months, and some of the best can be found in our national parks. Put on your warmest parka, coziest hat and gloves and lace up your snowshoes; here are some of the best winter activities in national parks.

1. Cross-country skiing

(Credit: IrinaK/Shutterstock)Family cross-country skiing in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA

In the summer, national parks have hiking trails filled with lush trees that sometimes lead to bodies of water. And in winter, these trails are covered with snow and become ideal for cross-country skiing. Gliding through these winter wonders is great for exercise and you can explore the nature around you.

Parks like Grand Teton National Park are closing some traffic routes and keep them ready to ski. Remember to wear extra layers and always bring a snack or two for fuel.

Some of the best parks for cross country skiing include:

2. Snowshoeing

(Credit: Patricia Thomas/Shutterstock) Hikers among snow-covered trees in Olympic National Park, Washington State

In lieu of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing is another great winter activity that helps you get in and take in some rare sights. Snowshoeing keeps you active and burns a lot of calories. It’s a low-impact activity that can lead to great heights and stunning scenery.

Grab your trekking poles and your warmest waterproof boots and enjoy the vast snowy landscapes of these national parks:


Read more: 5 US National Parks With Fascinating Features


3. Ice skating

(Credit: Shawn.ccf/Shutterstock) Tourists skating at the Lake Louise winter ice rink. Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies. Alberta, Canada.

Forget Rockefeller Plaza: Instead, put on your skates and slide down the crystal-clear natural ice rinks of the national parks. Surrounded by pristine forests and snow-capped mountains, the national parks offer a breathtaking skating experience. If you’re feeling up to it, bring a hockey stick and puck and you might find yourself in a pickup game.

Yosemite National Park also has an ice rink which is usually open until March. In 1929, with the prospect of hosting the 1932 Olympic Games, the park built the rink. However, Yosemite was not chosen for the games, but you can still skate under the famous ones Half dome.

Some of the best skate parks include:

4. Winter tourism

(Credit: Bryan Neuswanger/Shutterstock) A man walks through a hole filled with icicles in the sand formations of Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore near Meyer’s Beach; Upper Lake.

Exploring nature is one of the best parts of hiking, and hiking in the winter means fewer crowds. You’ll still be able to see snow-capped mountains and masses of evergreens, but with fewer selfie sticks and tourists in the background.

Along with beating the crowds, you can hike trails in the winter that would otherwise be too difficult to do in the summer. Hiking through Death Valley National Park the hottest spot in North America it is much more comfortable for winter walks due to the temperature. And hiking to the ice caves near the Apostle Islands National Lake is made possible by sub-zero temperatures.

Here are some winter hikes to check out in the following national parks:


Read more: Why you should visit national parks after dark


5. Northern lights

(Credit: FloridaStock/Shutterstock) The Northern Lights appear in a cloudless, starry night sky above a remote lodge in Denali National Park

The aurora borealis – or northern lights – is a wonder to behold. These mystical lights dance across the sky and have enchanted our ancestors for centuries. A recent article in Nature Communications explains that perturbations from our sun that pull on Earth’s magnetic field form the northern lights. This creates Alfvén waves, which scatter electrons at high speed into the atmosphere, creating the light show.

While you can see the northern lights all year round, winter offers longer and darker skies for more optimal viewing. You can see these multi-colored lights in some of our northernmost national parks, including:


Read more: The view from space as the Northern Lights light up the sky over Canada

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