Best National Parks to Visit for Christmas

  • 01 of 07

    Best National Parks for Christmas

    United States, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park in winter, thermal pools
    ••• Getty Images/CHARTON Franck/hemis.fr

    The holidays can be a stressful time. It’s a busy time that can often be full of shopping, last-minute errands, out-of-town guests, and lots of cooking. It can be easy to forget that the holidays are a time for family, for loved ones, and a time to appreciate all around you. Luckily the national parks offer a beautiful escape from the stress and an opportunity to bring you back down to what is really important. This year, consider these picturesque winter wonderlands that are a perfect place to celebrate the holidays.

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  • 02 of 07

    Grand Canyon National Park

    USA, Arizona, Grand Canyon with snow, South Rim
    ••• Getty Images/Robert Glusic

    Hiking Grand Canyon National Park in the winter may have never crossed your mind, but, rest assured, it is amazing. Not only is the popular park almost empty, hiking the trails with only the sound of snow crunching under your boots is one of the most beautiful experiences you can have in the park.

    Grand Canyon also offers a great holiday experience for families with the Polar Express. Families can board a train that runs from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim of the park through early January and enjoy a scenic ride equipped with chocolate and cookies. During the ride, Santa Claus himself tells the story of “The Night Before Christmas.” It is a great way for your kids to see the glory of the Grand Canyon and enjoy the magic of Christmas. It’s also a great way to pass onto children the importance of protecting nature and preserving our parks.

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  • 03 of 07

    Mount Rainier National Park

    Snow covered Mt. Rainier and White River, viewed from Crystal Mountain, Washington, USA
    ••• Getty Images/Danita Delimont

    With a summit over 16,000 feet, Mount Rainier is actually one of the nation's most stunning active volcanoes. As it grew, 25 major glaciers carved beautiful valleys, and have formed the largest collection of permanent ice on a single U.S. peak. The park is truly stunning in the winter months and offers plenty of outdoor activities. Visitors can cross-country ski, sled, and snowmobile. A great way to experience the park over the holidays is to snowshoe through the park. With 16 trails to choose from, it’s easy to experience a quiet afternoon deep in the heart of the wilderness.

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  • 04 of 07

    Yellowstone National Park

    Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Winter, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
    ••• Getty Images/Danita Delimont

    You can’t get much more of a white Christmas than this. In fact, Yellowstone, the country’s first National Park, is simply the epitome of a winter wonderland. Your family will enjoy a secluded getaway at Old Faithful Snow Lodge, accessible only by snow coach or snowmobile. Sit by the fire with hot cocoa and look out at the vast wilderness that surrounds you. Daily hikes and exploration of the park will reveal ghost trees, which form when the steam from Old Faithful freezes on nearby pine needles. The park sparkles with Christmas beauty and is an unforgettable way to experience the holidays.

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  • 05 of 07

    Grand Teton National Park

    Grand Teton range and Snake River. Grand Teton National Park. Wyoming, USA winter
    ••• Getty Images/Jeff Foott

    As the snow drapes a wintry blanket across the Teton Range, the area feels peaceful, a sharp contrast from the busy summer season. While some of Grand Teton National Park is closed in winter months, there are ways to enjoy this winter escape. Ranger-led snowshoe tours are a great way to experience Grand Teton in the winter and experience the beauty of Mother Nature. Skiing and snowshoeing are also exciting opportunities to enjoy the area.

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  • 06 of 07

    Rocky Mountain National Park

    Rocky Mountain National Park
    ••• Getty Images/Robert Thomason

    If you really want to get away from it all over the holidays, plan a trip to a park less traveled in the winter. Rocky Mountain National Park is quiet in winter as the park is less populated. However, it’s a great time to visit as much of the wildlife is still completely active. Seeing an elk in its natural habitat is an experience you won’t forget. The park also offers ranger-led snowshoe tours to view coyote, elk, deer, and snowshoe hares. Backcountry skiing and snowboarding are also fun things to do.

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  • 07 of 07

    Virgin Islands National Park

    Caribbean, US Virgin Islands, St John
    ••• Getty Images/Buena Vista Images

    If snow isn’t your thing, don’t worry, the parks also offer great getaways to escape winter. Virgin Islands National Park provides a picturesque beach vacation: white, sandy beaches surrounded by turquoise water. In fact, with more than 800 subtropical plants, coral reefs, and mangrove swamps, you will feel like you traveled outside the U.S. to a tropical getaway.

    Be sure to visit Trunk Bay, considered one of the world's most beautiful beaches. With a 225-yard long snorkeling trail, there is no shortage of unique marine life and underwater beauty to explore. Cinnamon Bay is also a prime spot for visitors looking for water sports like sailing, scuba diving, and snorkeling.