Your Perfect Arches Itinerary: 2 Days in Arches National Park

The perfect desert adventure is waiting for you in Moab, Utah, at Arches National Park!

This outdoor playground is home to the highest density of natural sandstone arches in the world: we’re talking over 2,000 documented to date!

Full of breathtaking red rock features and scenic hiking trails, Arches National Park is sure to impress every US national park enthusiast. 

But there’s a lot to see here, spread across 50+ miles of roads, and it can get overwhelming to plan the perfect route to hit all of the bucket list musts in Arches National Park.

Don’t sweat (save that for when you hit the trails!) — we’ve broken down the top things to do in Arches National Park, day by day, into this easy two-day Arches itinerary!

Travel Tips for Arches National Park

Allison exploring Arches National Park on a sunny day

Go early. This is one of the most popular national parks in the Southwest, so don’t expect solitude. Usually, there is a line to enter the park starting as early as 9 AM. 

Try to get an early start on both days, since you only have two days in Arches. Aim for at least one day where you wake up early enough for a sunrise hike!

Be sure to have a car. Arches National Park does not have a bus or shuttle system, so you’ll need a car to access the trailheads and viewpoints in this itinerary. If you’re not driving to Arches from your home state, you’ll likely want to fly into Salt Lake City and rent a car there — flights to Canyonlands Regional Airport are expensive and rentals are limited there.

Not sure where to get the best deal on your rental? I’ve rented cars dozens of times through various search engines and have settled on Discover Cars as the best car rental search engine – it searches over 500 trusted rental companies to find the cheapest price for your rental! Compare prices for car rental from Salt Lake City here.

If you don’t have a car, plan tours. It is possible to do Arches National Park without a car, but you’ll want to book some tours of the National Park and some Moab activities in order to fill up your itinerary.

Slather on the sunscreen. Arches National Park is hot, hot, hot in the summer! Be sure to apply sunscreen at least 10 minutes before a hike, and reapply every two hours or so (or more if you’re sweating a lot). 

Don’t forget exposed skin on the back of your body, like the back of your next, behind the knees, lower calves, etc! This is where I typically end up burned when I’m not diligent.

Bring a lot of water. As mentioned in the previous point, Arches gets quite hot in the summer season and it can be quite easy to get dehydrated. 

In every road trip packing list, I make sure to impress upon how important it is to have a large supply of water in your car just in case of an emergency. 

Define your accessibility needs. Not all of the park is accessible to people with mobility limitations. The following places are wheelchair accessible: Park Avenue Viewpoint, Balanced Rock Viewpoint, Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, and Wolfe Ranch Cabin. 

There is an accessible campsite at Devils Garden (#4H) and the Visitors Center and the restrooms are accessible all throughout the park.

It’s best not to bring your pet. Arches National Park is not a particularly dog-friendly national park. Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails or at overlooks, nor in the backcountry, which basically eliminates all of this itinerary! 

Dogs are only permitted at the Devils Garden campsite, picnic areas, and along paved roads. If traveling with a pet, check out these other dog-friendly hikes in Moab.

Where to Stay when Visiting Arches National Park

Glamping tent lit up from within with starry sky behind it

We give some details on campsites below in the itinerary, but if you’re not planning to camp — or the campsites in Arches are all full — here is where we suggest you stay in Moab!

GLAMPING | Not into full-on roughing it and camping? Glamping is the perfect middle ground where you can experience comfort and ease while also being in nature. Under Canvas Moab knocks it out of the park in terms of comfort, style, and entertainment, and is frequently cited as one of the best glamping lodges in the entire United States.

Book your stay at Under Canvas Moab here!

BUNGALOWS | The charming Moab Springs Ranch has private bungalows that are the perfect place to stay in Moab if you want more privacy than the typical hotel. Each bungalow has its own little terrace, and each room has A/C, TV, a kitchenette and dining area, and a private bathroom. The property also has a restaurant, garden, and BBQ facilities on-site.

Book your stay at Moab Springs Ranch here!

INN | For a rustic stay that nonetheless has all the amenities you need, Red Stone Inn is a fantastic choice. Rooms all come with a kitchenette, AC, TV, and en-suite bathroom. In terms of shared amenities, there is a hot tub and free WiFi throughout the property.

Book your stay at Red Stone Inn here!

5 Things Not to Forget to Pack for Arches

man standing below delicate arch in utah wearing hiking boots

Sunscreen. I’m weaning myself off of chemical-based sunscreens, especially if I’m doing any water activities like rafting or swimming. I love SunBum SPF 50 with Vitamin E as it’s all-natural and moisturizing without feeling icky and sticky.

Hydration backpack. You’ll want to rehydrate a lot while hiking in Arches, especially if visiting in the summertime! I recommend bringing a hydration pack like this Camelbak which you can wear on your back and sip water from, totally hands-free. It has a zipper pocket so you can throw in other essentials — car keys, cell phone, granola bars, etc. and use it in place of a day pack.

Hiking boots. This Arches itinerary includes a number of hiking trails that are rather rocky and uneven, and having ankle support is really key in these instances if you don’t want to roll an ankle and ruin your trip. 

I love my pair of Ahnu hiking boots (for women) and for men, I suggest these similar Keen boots. Whatever boots you pick, be sure to break them in with a hike or two before heading to Arches.

Hiking socks. Don’t forget to pack hiking socks! Regular old cotton socks in hiking boots can lead to massive amounts of blisters — I’ve learned this lesson firsthand, unfortunately! Moisture-wicking hiking socks are cheap but can save your vacation. These DriTech socks are a great and inexpensive option, or you may want to invest in some merino wool quick-drying socks.

Headlamp. Because this Arches itinerary includes some sunset hikes and sunrise hikes, you’ll need a headlamp like this one. Trust me, as someone who hiked back from a sunset hike at Corona Arch in the dark without a headlamp, you’ll absolutely want one! A smartphone flashlight won’t cut it.

Day One of Your Arches National Park Itinerary

Start the day at the Arches National Park Visitor Center.

the rugged landscape of arches national park, starting at the visitor center

Time to get ready for a full day exploring the beautiful red rock landscapes of Arches. 

However, the rugged landscape that makes up the 119 square mile park is more fragile than you may think!

Luckily, the Arches National Park Visitor Center near the entrance station is well-equipped to provide information about park stewardship. 

They also offer important insider details on how to access and appreciate the park’s many famous attractions.

Also, they’ll let you know of any important closures. For example, on my last visit, unfortunately, the Devil’s Garden was temporarily closed.

The visitor center is also a great place to top off all your water bottles! Although there are fill stations sprinkled throughout the park, it’s important to carry plenty of water at all times.

Summertime temperatures often exceed 100ºF/38°C, so proper hydration while tackling this Arches itinerary is extra important — especially if you’re hiking a lot!

Begin your exploration at the Moab Fault Overlook.

view from the moab fault overlook viewpoint over the red rock landscape of this beautiful utah national park.

As you continue into the park from the visitor center, you will begin to gain elevation.

Look around at the sandstone features as you make the switchbacks above the park entrance.

To the left, you will see three pinnacles called the Three Penguins. Can you make out the penguin shapes?

The turnout for the Moab Fault Overlook will be one of the first viewpoints in the park on the right side of the road. 

Check out the impressive fault and read through the helpful interpretive signs to understand the tectonic plates and how they have impacted the beautiful Utah landscape.

Hike the scenic Park Avenue Trail.

red rock formations seen from a hike on this arches national park itinerary.

From the Moab Fault Overlook, continue on the main road to the Park Avenue Trail and Viewpoint

The views are epic right from the parking lot — this stop makes a great backdrop for a group photo, even if you’re not planning to do a hike!

Park visitors that are unable to hike long distances can enjoy an amazing lookout here. The first section of the hiking trail is paved to be wheelchair and stroller accessible.

For those who wish to continue past the paved section, the trail leads toward the astonishing Courthouse Towers in the distance. 

The 2-mile out-and-back trail takes hikers to the canyon floor for a close-up of the various towers and fins!

The trail connects with the main road at the 1-mile turnaround point, so it’s possible to arrange for a private shuttle.

If you want to arrange a shuttle, be sure to do it in advance, especially if you don’t want to hike back to the Park Avenue Trailhead or if you are trying to save time on this Arches itinerary to maximize your trip!

Gaze at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint.

the famous 'three sisters' rock formation seen from the la sal mountains viewpoint in arches national park

After a nice walk through the sandstone monoliths, head back to the main road and stop at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint.

There’s not much of a trail here, but it’s a nice place for scenic views with some interpretive posters to read through. 

You’ll also be able to spot the Three Sisters rock formation here, one of the most beautiful landmarks in Arches National Park!

The La Sal Mountains that you can see in the distance are about 20 miles south of Moab and are the second-highest mountain range in Utah.

They offer great recreation opportunities for locals and visitors with skiing in the wintertime! But in summer, boy, do they make one beautiful backdrop.

Visit Arches’ very own ‘Great Wall’.

large red sandstone 'wall' next to a road with a car on it driving in arches national park on a sunny partly cloudy day.

This feature isn’t quite the same as the great wall you may be thinking of on the other side of the globe. It is, however, really beautiful and impressive!

The Great Wall in Arches National Park is a towering row of naturally formed sandstone cliffs and towers.

Take in a drive-by view of this phenomenal feature or stop at the Petrified Dunes Viewpoint.

From the designated viewpoint, you can see the Great Wall in the distance and the petrified dunes with the La Sal Mountains in the background. It’s picture-perfect!

Hike to the viewpoint at Balanced Rock Trail.

hoodoo holding up a rock that looks like its balancing. mountains capped with snow in the distance at sunset.

This next tower is going to blow your mind! If you’re looking closely, you can even spot it as you drive to the trailhead…

Continue past the Great Wall on the main road until you see the well-marked parking area for the Balanced Rock Trail on the right.

Near the trailhead, there are bathrooms and a nice picnic area. Take some time to regroup, hydrate, and refuel with a well-deserved picnic lunch before you head out on a hike to Balanced Rock.

Feeling rejuvenated? Good!

Now, it’s time to get a closer view. The short and easy 0.3-mile scenic loop will take you around the base of the iconic feature.

This rock formation, known as a hoodoo (the likes of which you’ll see all over Utah, in particular, Bryce Canyon National Park) appears to be balancing a bolder that is 55 feet in diameter.

The total height of the structure is 128 feet!

Explore the Windows Section of Arches National Park.

a giant rock with an arch showing blue sky behind it in arches national park

Not far past the Balanced Rock Parking Area is a side road marked with signs leading to The Garden of Eden, Double Arch Trail, and The Windows Section.

The first hike takes off at the very end of the side road. Park in The Windows Section Parking Area and look for signs that lead to The Windows Trail. 

The Windows Trail is an easy 0.65-mile loop that takes hikers to the North Window and South Window (nicknamed ‘the Spectacles’ for its unique shape)

The hike finishes off with an up-close view of Turret Arch. You can take epic photos of Turret Arch through the North Window for a beautifully composed shot.

As another option, hikers can take Windows Primitive Loop Trail for an alternate view of the North and South Windows. 

Truth be told, all the trails are all scenic in this section of Arches National Park!

Hike the Double Arch Trail.

low angle shot looking up to the double arch off the trail in moab.

The second trail that you must hike on this side road is the Double Arch Trail.

The Double Arch Trailhead Parking area is just a short drive from the Windows Section, so it’s great to pair these two Arches activities back-to-back. 

Set aside ample time to explore this next arch and don’t forget your camera!

This easy 0.25-mile hike begins in a cool desert forest of juniper trees. Continue on the trail until you come to the unmistakable Double Arch! There’s nothing quite like it.

Set up camp at Devils Garden Campground, if camping.

the campsite at arches national park, devils garden, surrounded by trees and red rocks.

A fun-filled day in Arches National Park is best rewarded with an overnight at Devils Garden Campground. It’s also the only campground in Arches proper.

As the only campground in Arches, you’ll want to book it well in advance online at recreation.gov

Bookings open six months in advance ($20 site fee), and so you’ll want to book as far in advance as time allows if you are trying to camp within the park. 

There are only 50 sites in all of Arches National Park for camping, and it is full pretty much every day between March 1 and October 31, when it is by reservations only.

If Devils Garden is all booked up, you may want to check out the Slickrock campground outside of the park.

Not trying to camp? Refer back to the top of the post where we suggest places to stay in Moab, and skip forward to the sunset hike in the next section. After that hike, you’ll return to your hotel.

Located right inside the park, this campground makes a perfect starting point for your next day’s adventures. The sites in this campground are all well laid out providing some shade and red rock views.

It’s also a great place for stargazing in Arches!

Take in the sunset at Skyline Arch.

skyline arch seen with brilliant colors and red rocks.

Did you think you were done for the day? No way! Arches National Park is famous for its glowing golden hour!

Right from the campground, take the short and easy walk over to the Skyline Arch. The round trip walk will be less than 0.5 miles from the trailhead.

If you have extra time, you could also tack on the short 0.3-mile hike to Sand Dune Arch, located just a short walk from the Skyline Arch. 

However, if you have to pick one, Skyline is better at sunset.

If you brought your headlamp along, stick around for the star show. The uninterrupted night sky is sure to reveal some stellar views of the Milky Way.

That’s officially all for day one. Now, it’s time to rest up for an early start!

Day 2 of your Arches Itinerary

Catch sunrise on the Broken Arch Trail.

view of an arch that looks partly broken, with a small crack in the rock, seen at sunrise.

Rise and shine!

Grab your headlamp, camp stove, instant coffee, and a breakfast bar for the trail, because this is a sunrise you will not want to miss. Mornings are hard, I know, but this will be 100% worth it.

Right from the campground (or driving in from your hotel), hop on the Broken Arch Trail

The arch is located less than a mile from the trailhead, and it offers a perfect spot to sit and brew some morning coffee as you watch the sun come up over Arches National Park. 

This is one of those great short hikes with an epic reward, especially if you time it for sunrise.

From Broken Arch, you can complete the loop to pass by Sandstone Arch on your way back to the campground or go back the way you came. The distances are about the same.

Trek through Devils Garden on one of Arches’ best hikes.

two hikers walking down a trail in the devils garden section of arches national park.

Take your time breaking down your campsite as you prepare for another day of adventure in this desert playground! 

Don’t forget to top off on water here, as refill spots can be few and far between in Arches National Park.

No trip to Arches is complete without a hike on the Devils Garden Trail. Within only 2 miles of hiking, you will pass by a dozen natural sandstone arches, including Landscape Arch.

Landscape Arch is the longest sandstone arch in the national park, stretching nearly 300 feet across. 

It looks impossibly thin at points — its thinnest section is only 6 feet across — which is wild when you consider its size!

This is a good hike to do earlier in the day before temperatures become too hot (hence the name Devil’s Garden!).

With detours to grab a closer look at some of the arches, the total distance on this hike becomes about 5 miles — so it’s not for the faint of heart. 

Be prepared to tackle this hike and bring lots of water, preferably in a Camelbak for easy access.

To amp up the difficulty, you can tack on the Double O Arch, also accessible off the Devils Garden Trail. 

However, this is on the hard side of moderate difficulty, so be sure to be prepared with proper footwear and water. 

Note that this is not for the faint of heart as there is quite a bit of drop in some sections of the hike, as well as some sections where you need to scramble and do some wayfinding.

Whatever hiking adventure you choose, return to the parking area to find some shade and a cool drink of water!

Take a scenic drive to the beautiful Fiery Furnace Viewpoint.

lots of beautiful red rocks at the fiery furnace viewpoint in arches

On the main road headed toward the park entrance, there is a parking area for the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint. 

From here, you can get an epic view into the thick fins, hoodoos, and arches of this area.

To hike in Fiery Furnace, you must obtain a permit from the visitor center or join in on a ranger-led hike (I recommend this latter option). 

You can book a ranger-led hike on recreation.gov: note that you need to book at least 4 days in advance, and it’s suggested to book several weeks ahead if possible as these are all small groups of no more than 25 people.

Note that since there are no maintained trails through Fiery Furnace, it’s easy to become disoriented and lost — another reason a ranger-led hike is a fabulous idea.

Visit Delicate Arch for sunset.

sunset at the scenic and iconic delicate arch with sunset colors and mountains in the distance.

We saved the most iconic arch in Arches National Park for last! You will probably recognize Delicate Arch from the many social media snaps of it, and even from Utah’s license plate!

To reach the trailhead, continue on the main road toward the park entrance until you reach the turn for Wolfe Ranch / Delicate Arch Viewpoint Road on the left. 

Continue down the side road and park at the Wolfe Ranch Parking Area — this is where you’ll start your hike to Delicate Arch.

The hike to Delicate Arch is a little challenging and requires hikers to follow the cairns marking the trail to avoid getting lost. 

However, there are usually a fair number of hikers here, so it’s hard to get too lost.

Take your time and be observant. At 3 miles round trip, this hike is well worth the close-up view of the arch!

Say goodbye – for now – to Arches at the pristine Panorama Point.

one last look at arches national park before finishing up this itinerary

Take one last good look at Arches National Park from Panorama Point.

This is the perfect place to reminisce and plan your next Utah adventure — trust me, there will be another one!

Take one last good look at Arches National Park from Panorama Point.

This is the perfect place to reminisce and plan your next Utah adventure — trust me, there will be another one!

Have More Time in Arches National Park?

the red rocks of tower arch in a more remote park of arches national park, seen shortly after sunrise in the morning light

This is already a fairly ambitious Arches National Park itinerary, but if you’re a fast hiker who doesn’t spend a lot of time soaking up views or photographing, you may want to tack on a few additional hikes in the park where it makes sense.

You may also want to keep these in your back pocket in case the crowds of Arches start to get to you: these are lesser-visited and a bit off the tourist path, though they are by no means a secret.

Here are a few additional arches in the park worth the hike!

Tower Arch: A moderate 2.7-mile roundtrip hike in a more secluded section of the park — this is great if you’re tiring of the crowds on the more on-the-beaten-path part of Arches and want to make a detour to shake off the crowds.

Pine Tree Arch & Tunnel Arch: These can easily be added onto a hike to Landscape Arch while hiking the Devils Garden section of the park. These are less-visited than some of the other arches in the section, but the Devils Garden area is still rather popular, so don’t expect total solitude.

Additionally, you can add some more fun activities in Moab, like this sunset cruise on the Colorado River, a half-day rafting tour, or a 4WD tour in Hell’s Revenge.

Where to Go Before or After Arches National Park

Allison visiting Mesa Arch in Canyonlands national park sitting in the middle of Mesa Arch

Arches National Park is often visited in conjunction with other incredible Utah bucket list destinations.

If you base yourself in Moab, you’ll likely also want to visit Canyonlands National Park (where you’ll find Mesa Arch — contrary to popular belief, this arch is not in Arches!).

You’ll also want to spend at least a half-day exploring Dead Horse Point State Park, where the Colorado River bends beautifully in a way similar to Horsehoe Bend in Arizona.

People often spend a few days in Salt Lake City before making their way to Arches, but you can also do this in reverse.

Other stops people often make include Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park. 

I’ve included all of these on my one-week Utah Mighty 5 road trip itinerary, so if you are planning a longer stay, be sure to read that post!

I also have a post that combines all the best Utah attractions with some stops in Arizona like the Grand Canyon as well as Nevada in this Southwest USA itinerary.

Road Trip to Alaska: Top Sights Along the Alaska “Alcan” Highway

The Alaska Highway, or Alcan, is often listed as one of the ultimate North American road trip routes. We couldn’t agree more!

With winding mountain roads cutting through the remote reaches of British Columbia and Canada’s wild Yukon, this 1,390-mile scenic highway takes travelers all the way to beautiful Alaska. This road trip is unlike any other you’ve experienced before!

Quick Note: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the border between the U.S. and Canada is currently closed to non-essential travel. While some Americans are permitted to travel on the Alaska Highway, you must have a legal, valid reason to do so. You must also follow all the laws of Canada while you transit through the country. Tourism and sightseeing is not a valid reason for travel, and this post is strictly meant for post-pandemic travel plans.

Please read this helpful page from the Canadian government website if you are planning to travel between the continental U.S. and Alaska via Canada to ensure you follow all laws.

An American and a Canadian flag side by side next to barren fields and a deep blue lake while driving the Alcan Highway road trip to Alaska

Originally built during World War II to connect Alaska with the contiguous United States, the Alaska Highway has seen drastic improvements since it’s opening in the 1940s.

No longer a treacherous dirt road, it’s paved and ready for your modern-day road-tripping rig!

This scenic highway begins in the town of Dawson Creek, British Columbia. With a population of about 13,000 people, Dawson Creek will be one of the larger towns on your route.

Load up on groceries and fuel, check over your road trip packing list, because you’re in it for the long haul!

Road Trip to Alaska: Alcan Highway Itinerary

Stop One: Dawson Creek (Mile 0)

Sign with three flags reading "You are now entering the World Famous Alaska Highway Dawson Creek BC"

Welcome to Dawson Creek, where your adventure officially begins! Brush up on the famous route’s history at the Alaska Highway House Interpretive Center.

Here, you can watch an educational film about the highway’s construction and explore some of the equipment used in the rigorous building process. This was no small project!

If you’re planning to spend multiple days in Dawson Creek, you’ll have plenty of time to take a trip over to the Kiskatinaw Bridge. Check out this bridge’s quality craftsmanship.

Built during the construction of the Alaska Highway, the Kiskatinaw Bridge was the first curved wooden bridge in Canada and is one of few that remain intact today.

Ready to hit the road? Dawson Creek features a fun sign marking the start of the Alaska Highway. This marker makes a great photo opp to commemorate the beginning of your road trip.

Let the journey begin!

Stop Two: Charlie Lake (Mile 52)

Logs and trees on the shore of a lake, which is still and mirroring the clouds above it.

The first scenic stop along the Alaska Highway is Charlie Lake. This magnificent lake sits right next to the road and is a convenient pull off to enjoy the views.

Don’t be shy, go take a closer look! There are two wonderful parks along the lake’s shore, Charlie Lake Provincial Park and Beatton Provincial Park.

Charlie Lake Provincial Park, on the west shore of the lake, offers some short scenic hiking trails, a boat launch, and a campground with full hookups.

Stretch your legs, take some memorable photos, and relax by the water!

Stop Three: Muncho Lake (Mile 462)

Jade green waters surrounded by some leaves and greenery with mountains and clouds in the distance on a road trip to Alaska

This next lake is definitely a sight to see while you road trip to Alaska!

Similar to Charlie Lake, you can’t miss this one because the Alaska Highway runs right along its eastern shore! Muncho Lake is a jaw-dropping jade-color. No filter needed!

With a backdrop of towering mountains and pristine wilderness, you’ll want to stay here for days, which is actually possible if you snag a camp spot.

Strawberry Flats Campground in Muncho Lake Provincial Park is a great place to spend a night or two. Most of the campsites here even offer direct access to the lake for fishing and the ultimate sunset viewpoint. You can’t beat that!

While you’re here, take a hike on one of the area’s awesome trails. The 3-mile Stone’s Sheep Trail offers hikers an epic view of Muncho Lake and the surrounding landscape. Be on the lookout: there’s always a possibility to see stone sheep and caribou!

Stop Four: Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park (Mile 496)

Woman with short brown hair in a colorful bathing suit in turquoise water at a hot spring in Canada surrounded by green grass and trees.

Bathing suit? Check. Towel? Check.

You’re ready to soak and relax at Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park.

As the second largest natural hot springs in Canada, there’s no wonder why this remote paradise is on so many traveler’s bucket lists! It’s a wildly spacious pool for soaking, but it’s also right in the middle of an incredibly beautiful boreal forest.

Make your way from the parking area to the hot springs using the boardwalk trail. You’ll feel like you’ve entered into a fairytale!

The Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park has a campground for those wishing to spend the night. Keep in mind, the sites tend to fill up quickly, so plan to arrive in the morning!

Stop Five: The Sign Post Forest (Mile 635)

Sign which reads "Sign Post Forest" surrounded by lots of signs from all over the world along the AlCan Highway

Looking for a sign? Well… Here’s over 77,000 of them!

Make a stop to walk through Watson Lake’s most popular attraction: the Sign Post Forest.

It’s encouraged to bring a legally obtained sign representing the town you’re visiting from! Make your mark on the growing forest and add to one of the posts.

This interesting tradition was founded by a soldier who decided to mark the distance to his hometown while working on the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942. It’s said that he was homesick for his small Illinois town.

Interested in learning more about the history of The Sign Post Forest? The Alaska Highway Interpretive Centre is only a 5-minute walk away!

Stop Six: Whitehorse, Yukon (Mile 872)

Welcome to Whitehorse, the capital of Canada’s Yukon territory!

With a population of around 25,000 people, this is the largest town you’ve seen in a while. Whitehorse maintains a small-town vibe with friendly locals and rich history.

There’s a lot of fun activities to do in Whitehorse, and it’s often recommended that Alaska Highway travelers spend multiple days here.

Witness the Northern Lights

Green Northern lights above the lights of the town of Whitehorse, Yukon in Canada along the AlCan Highway

This spectacular light show is most commonly viewed in the wintertime, but it can make appearances during late summer and fall when the days begin to grow shorter. 

To see the Northern Lights, you’ll have to take a drive out of town to escape any bit of light pollution. The darker the better! Bring some hot chocolate and camp chairs to enjoy your evening under the stars.

Walk Under the Midnight Sun

For those visiting in midsummer, you may be able to experience the midnight sun.

Long summer days have a whole new meaning when you travel this far north!

Hike in Miles Canyon

Brilliant turquoise water on the Yukon River, surrounded by rocks and green trees

Explore along the Yukon River, and wander through the area’s most magnificent natural feature.

Here, you will see how the river’s powerful flows wore through the basaltic lava rock to form Miles Canyon.

Takhini Hot Pools

Another soak? Yes, please!

The beautiful outdoor pool at Takhini Hot Springs is the perfect place to relax for the day.

If you’re searching for a place to stay the night, there’s a nice campground with full hookups and a welcoming hostel right on location.

Explore the Local History

Become immersed in Yukon history at the MacBride Museum’s downtown location. Connect with the groundbreaking events that founded today’s modern Yukon and the people who originally inhabited the rugged landscape.

For some more on the mining history, the MacBride Copperbelt Mining Museum offers a fun and interactive interpretive experience. A great excursion for all ages!

There’s still more to discover! Visit the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site, and check out the fully restored riverboat. Before modern roads, riverboats connected the area to the outside world.

Stop Seven: Kluane National Park and Reserve (Mile 1,016)

Ice fields in Canada surrounded by tall mountains covered in green and orange foliage and grass.

After an exciting stay in Whitehorse, it’s back on the road toward Haines Junction.

Calling all mountain lovers! From Haines Junction, outdoor enthusiasts are urged to stop by Kluane National Park and Reserve.

Home to the largest non-polar ice fields in the world as well as Canada’s tallest mountain, Mount Logan, this park is a dream for mountaineers and front country users alike. Just from the road, visitors can view wildlife and the towering peaks of the Icefield Range.

Looking for a short hike to get your steps in? Head out on an easy ½ mile hike along the Soldier’s Summit Trail to witness the site of the Alaska Highway’s official opening.

For those looking to spend the night, the campground at Kathleen Lake offers tremendous views, and it’s a great basecamp for area hiking. Many people choose to spend multiple nights here because of the vast outdoor recreation opportunities!

As you explore Kluane, keep on the lookout for grizzly bears, black bears, Dall sheep, wolves, and mountain goats!

Stop Eight: Destruction Bay (Mile 1,083)

Soft blue water against beige sand in a bay in Canada, with larger hills in the distance and lots of cloud.

Wondering how this sweet little community along the Alaska Highway earned such an ominous name?

After a severe storm destroyed materials and buildings during the route’s construction, the name Destruction Bay seemed appropriate!

At the northern tip of Kluane Lake, Destruction Bay makes for a great place to pull off the highway and take in the views.

For those who have been fishing along the drive, Kluane Lake is a great place to put that license to use! Cast a line into the icy cold waters for a chance to catch one of the legendary monster trout.

Stop Eight: Delta Junction (Mile 1,390)

A family of three moose -- a mother and two babies -- crossing the road of the AlCan Highway with some pink flowers on the side of the road.

It’s the end of the road but the beginning of your next adventure.

From the end of the Alaska Highway in Delta Junction, AK, you now have to decide whether you will head north towards Fairbanks to explore the wild landscape of Denali National Park or make your way towards the coast in Anchorage.

Wherever you end up next, we know that adventure waits for you there!

Pin This Guide to Road Tripping to Alaska Along the Alcan Highway!

11 Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

landscapes of glacier n ational park with the highline trail in sight

With over 734 miles of scenic hiking trails, Glacier National Park has a wealth of hiking to explore.

There’s a trail for every experience level and age group from a family-friendly boardwalk hike around the massive old-growth cedars near Lake McDonald to challenging mountain passes that offer rewarding views of the pristine landscape below.

Pack your backpack, grab your camera, and don’t forget the bear spray. These are the best day hikes in Glacier National Park you won’t want to miss!

Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier

Brilliant turquoise blue water surrounded by white glacial ice, with green grass with red wildflowers on the edge, surrounded by tall mountain edges lightly covered in snow.

Mileage: 10 miles or 7 miles using the boat shuttle

Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet

The Many Glacier Valley in Glacier National Park is a true hiking paradise. One of the most commonly suggested hikes in this area is to see Grinnell Glacier.

There are at least 35 named glaciers in the park, and Grinnell is one of the most accessible… and seeing a glacier has got to be on the top of your list of things to do in Glacier National Park.

Now, let’s talk about how to get there…

From the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead, hike along the north shores of Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. The mountain views from this section of the trail are beautiful!

The trail doesn’t begin to gain much elevation until you have passed the lakes. The last 3 miles are fairly steep, but at least there are plenty of wildflowers to occupy your attention as you climb. Seeing a glacier up close is worth the effort!

If you’re short on time or can’t manage a 10-mile hike, you can shave off 3 miles from the trek by using the park shuttle boats. Taking the shuttle boats costs a small fee and may require advanced registration. The boats can be used to shuttle across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine.

Grinnell Glacier Alternative: Grinnell Lake Trail

Male hiker wearing blue jacket and blue backpack sitting after doing some Glacier National Park hiking, looking over the teal colored Grinnell Lake, surrounded by mountains dusted with some remaining snow.

Mileage: 7 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet

The trail to Grinnell Glacier can hold snow for much longer than the lake trail below.

If hiking through snowfields on a steep trail sounds uncomfortable, you can still enjoy a nice view of Grinnell Glacier from a lower elevation at Grinnell Lake.

Hikers can also use the boat shuttle to eliminate a few hiking miles.

St. Mary and Virginia Falls

Waterfall cascading over a cliff, with trees surrounded the edges of the cliff with a small sunburst poking through the trees.

Mileage: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 450 feet

Hiking in Glacier National Park isn’t complete without a trip to St. Mary and Virginia Falls!

At the western end of St. Mary Lake, there is trailhead parking for the falls. You can also use the shuttle bus to get to this scenic waterfall trail.

Once you’re at the trailhead, hike downhill toward the St. Mary River. You will mostly be hiking through a historic burn area, which has beautiful wildflowers every spring.

Soon after you reach the river, you will come across St. Mary Falls. Take the bridge across St. Mary River to continue on your way toward Virginia Falls.

You can continue hiking on what is now the Continental Divide Trail for as long as you’d like, or flip around and head back to the trailhead.

Avalanche Lake

Green mountains with waterfalls cascading down the sides of it, towards the pool at the bottom that is Avalanche Lake, surrounded by pine trees and blue sky.

Mileage: 4.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 750 feet

Early in the springtime, many of the park roads are still closed for snow removal. Avalanche Lake is one of the first alpine lake trails to become accessible as the roads reopen!

From the Trail of Cedars Trailhead, follow signs to the Avalanche Lake Trail. The trail climbs steadily uphill while paralleling the icy blue waters of Avalanche Creek.

For a more secluded experience, continue 0.7 miles to the other end of the lake. It’s arguably a better view than the main beach!

Trail of Cedars

The brilliant turquoise Avalanche Creek, surrounded by mossy boulders and cedar trees on this easy Glacier National Park hike.

Mileage: 1 mile

Elevation Gain: 50 feet

The Trail of Cedars can be wandered before or after visiting Avalanche Lake.

The area includes boardwalks that weave through the impressive cedar trees.

There are plenty of interesting interpretive displays to read through and if you look carefully you may be able to spot the resident deer roaming around. This is a great place to wander with young or new hikers!

Redrock Falls

Small cascade over red rocks at Redrock Falls, a popular hike in Glacier National Park, surrounded by trees and blue sky.

Mileage: 4 miles

Elevation Gain: 285 feet

Head to the end of the road in the Many Glacier Valley to access this scenic waterfall. Park at the Swiftcurrent Trailhead and follow the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail.

You will come to the cascading waterfall after about 2 miles of hiking. Many small side trails wander around the falls offering different viewpoints.

If you were hoping to spot a moose during your trip to Glacier National Park, this is your best bet! Moose frequent the wetland area about 1.5 miles into the trail.

No luck? Take the short detour to Fishercap Lake and scan the shoreline. The best times to spot moose are in the mornings and evenings.

The first best part of this hike is the waterfall, but the second-best is that it ends close to the general store, which sells huckleberry ice cream!

Swiftcurrent Pass

View of glacial mountains which have eroded to leave a valley behind, covered in green grass and foliage, with small emerald greenish-blue lakes in the deep valley below it.

Mileage: 14 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,766 feet

Often considered the most challenging day hike in Glacier National Park, the trail to Swiftcurrent Pass is full of outstanding views, alpine meadows, emerald lakes, and wildlife. If you are rugged enough to take on this trail, you won’t be disappointed by the beauty it holds!

As you would if you were hiking to Redrock Falls, park at the Swiftcurrent Trailhead and follow the appropriately named trail. You will get to see Redrock Falls, Redrock Lake, and Bullhead Lake along the way. Both lakes offer great views and provide excellent habitat for moose!

Soon after Bullhead Lake, you will begin your ascent up toward the pass. Make your climb up the many switchbacks for an excellent view of the valley below. The trail is pretty narrow and steep in some spots, which doesn’t pair particularly well with a fear of heights.

Iceberg Lake

Blue glacial water topped with some unmelted glacial ice, surrounded by reddish-brown rocks lit up orange-red by the last of the afternoon light, on a popular hike in Glacier National Park

Mileage: 9.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,450 feet

Begin your trek to Iceberg Lake from the Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead, which is nearby the trailhead used to access Redrock Falls and Swiftcurrent Pass.

From the trailhead, follow signs to stay on the Iceberg Ptarmigan Trail. Soon after you reach Ptarmigan Fall, you will arrive at a junction. Here, you will veer left and follow the Iceberg Trail.

Your efforts will be rewarded with an epic view of the emerald blue lake and floating ice chunks. The lake is surrounded by 2,000’ tall cliffs that are frequented by mountain goats.

In addition to the goats and bighorn sheep you will probably see, keep an eye out for moose, bear, and deer. This trail is a wildlife photographer’s dream!

Highline Trail

A dirt path winding through the beautiful green mountains of Glacier National Park, with some purple wildflowers and views of the other glacial mountains in the park.

Mileage: 15 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,578 feet

Due to the long mileage and difficulty of this scenic hiking trail, it is often done as an overnight backpacking trip. Although challenging, seasoned hikers could make this particular trek in a single day.

For those wishing to embark on a multi-day adventure, the Highline Trailhead is the starting point for endless miles of exploring, including a popular route that traverses most of the park.

Park at the Logan Pass Parking Area or take the shuttle bus to access the trailhead. You’ll want to get on the trail early! Follow signs to Highline Trail and begin your steady climb up. This scenic trail will bring you along the garden wall followed by an opportunity to detour to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook. Adding the detour to Grinnell Glacier makes the total distance closer to 17 miles.

Continuing on, you will  eventually reach the Granite Park Chalet, which historically provided accommodations for visitors to Glacier National Park. Now, it is a National Historic Landmark and a comfortable backcountry camp for backpackers.

After taking in the view at the chalet, head back the way you came toward Logan Pass. Keep an eye out for wildlife, there are many reports of hikers encountering grizzly bear and mountain goats!

This trail is very exposed, and anyone with a sensitivity to heights is encouraged to seek other options.

Upper McDonald Creek Trail

Brilliant emerald-turquoise waters at Upper McDonald Creek, surrounded by rocks covered in green moss and trees.

Mileage: 5 miles

Elevation Gain: 278 feet

Hikers of all levels will love this scenic creek-side trail. Beginning from the Upper McDonald Creek Trailhead, which is only a short drive past Lake McDonald.

The trail starts by wandering through an old-growth forest. This section of trail is a common place to spot grazing mule deer. As you continue, you will encounter the glacial-blue Upper McDonald Creek.

This is an out and back trail, so continue as far as you feel comfortable before turning around and heading back toward the trailhead.

Florence Falls Trail

Mileage: 9 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,174 feet

This is just one of the many spectacular waterfalls in Glacier National Park. Begin this out and back hike at the Jackson Glacier Overlook, where there is a good amount of parking available.

Along the way, you’ll pass Deadwood Falls. This 10’ falls may be stout, but it’s quite loud as it spills into Reynolds Creek. The main event is further down the trail.

Florence Falls is a tower of cascading falls. Each cascade ranged in height from 30 to 50 feet! Bear frequent this trail in the springtime because of the abundance of cow parsnip that grows in the area.

Be bear-aware anytime you are hiking in Glacier National Park!

Pin This Guide to Glacier National Park Hikes

The 10 Best Grand Teton Day Hikes

Many people travel to Grand Teton National Park to get a glimpse of the iconic Teton Range, scout out some of the area’s diverse wildlife, and go on a scenic hike in the Tetons.

With over 200 miles of beautiful hiking trails in Grand Teton National Park, there’s no shortage of choices.

Every experience level and age group can find a trail they will enjoy from a family-friendly nature walk in Colter Bay to challenging mountain passes that offer rewarding views of the pristine landscape below.

Load up your backpack, grab your camera, and don’t forget to pack the bear spray. These are the best day hikes that Grand Teton National Park has to offer!

Best Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park

Taggart and Brady Lakes

Still lake at Taggart Lake reflecting the Teton range above it, surrounded by trees, rocks, and foliage.

Distance: 6 miles

Elevation Gain: 585 feet

A trip to Grand Teton National Park is not complete without a hike to Taggart and Brady Lakes. These lakes are nearby each other and are both worth visiting.

Being such a scenic hike, this is a well-well-trafficked trail. With that said, there is limited parking at the Taggert Lake Trailhead, and arriving early is highly recommended so you can find a parking spot easily.

Take in the stunning views of Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range, from the parking area. When you are ready to get your blood flowing, depart from the trailhead and hit the trail. When you come to the first trail junction, veer right and follow the sign toward Taggart Lake Trail.

A little farther down the trail, you will come to yet another junction. The trail is very well marked. Just remember you are following the signs to Taggart and Brady Lakes! A map helps too!

Next, cross the sturdy footbridge over Taggart Creek. Look upstream to get a glimpse of the cascading waterfall. The trail begins to climb a bit starting here. Make your way through the forest of lodgepole pines and thick aspen groves.

After you’ve hiked about 1 mile, you will come to another trail junction. Heading left will take you to Taggart Lake. However, if you wish to visit both of the lakes keep right and check out Brady Lake first. Just a little way farther, and you will be rewarded with multiple scenic overlooks of Taggert Lake!

Once you come to the Valley Trail Junction, keep right and you will shortly arrive at the shores of Bradly Lake. When you are finished soaking up the Teton views, head back to the Valley Trail Junction and take the Valley Trail this time to get a closer look at Taggart Lake and complete the loop back to the trailhead.

String and Leigh Lake

Narrow footbridge crossing a section of String Lake surrounded by green trees at the start of this Grand Teton hike.

Distance: 4 miles

Elevation Gain: 50 feet

Begin your hike at the String Lake Picnic Area. At the trailhead, you will find stunning mountain views from the sandy beach at String Lake. This is a great spot to refuel with some lunch or cool off with a dip in the chilly lake.

The trail wraps around the shore of String Lake until you come to a junction that will lead toward Leigh Lake. Unlike String Lake, accessing the shore of Leigh lake can be a little trickier. Keep an eye out for a well-used trail down to the lakeshore.

From Leigh Lake, continue back the way you came and complete the loop around String Lake. For a much longer hike, you can choose to hike to Bear Lake from Leigh Lake. This would add an additional 4 miles to the hike.

Jenny Lake: Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls

Giant boulders in front of the view from Inspiration Point, showing lots of evergreen trees in front of a brilliant blue lake with some clouds on the horizon but an otherwise clear sky.

Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 330 feet

If you make a visit to hike in Grand Teton National Park, definitely plan for a stop at Jenny Lake! There is so much to do at Jenny Lake, it is well worth dedicating a half-day to.

Who doesn’t love a waterfall hike? The hike to Hidden Falls is one of the most beautiful in the park. This trail is short enough that it is considered a novice and great for families. Hop on the boat shuttle at the docking area. This will cut off about 5 miles from the hike and offer beautiful mountain views as you cross the lake. There is a small fee for taking the boat shuttle.

Once on the other side of the lake, begin your hike on the Cascade Canyon Trail. The trail climbs quite a bit before reaching Hidden Falls and the viewing area. Hidden Falls is a towering 100’ and is often regarded as the most scenic waterfall in Grand Teton National Park!

Continue on your way up to Inspiration Point. Since it is less than a half-mile from Hidden Falls, it’s worth the climb, but if your legs are exhausted, you can always choose to turn back to the boat dock. Inspiration Point offers a great view of Jenny Lake and the distant mountains.

Jenny Lake Loop

Hiking in Grand Teton National Park along the perimeter of Jenny Lake, a brilliant sapphire blue lake surrounded by rocks and pine trees.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 275 feet

This scenic loop around Jenny Lake offers countless photo opportunities and chances to gaze up at the stunning peaks known as the Cathedral Group in the Teton Range!

The loop begins at the Jenny Lake Trailhead and stays fairly close to the lake throughout the entire hike. This is a great long hike for those hoping to avoid super strenuous hills or elevation gain.

Along the way, you can choose to veer off to visit Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, which are mentioned previously.

If you were hoping to experience solitude while hiking in Grand Teton National Park, this may not be the ideal trail for you. Although scenic and rewarding, this is a very popular trail. The road is nearby part of the trail too, and it can interrupt the quiet of nature at times.

Phelps Lake Overlook

View over the sapphire blue Phelps Lake surrounded by pine forest on a clear, cloudless day with mountains on the horizon.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

The Phelps Lake overlook is a fairly easy hike that wanders through a pine forest and aspen groves before opening up to a scenic viewpoint. This hike begins at the Death Canyon Trailhead, which is located at the end of a rutted dirt road.

From the trailhead, you will enter the forest and follow the well-maintained trail for 1 mile. Phelps Lake sits at over 7,000’ in elevation and is a common place to spot moose and waterfowl.

Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes Trail

Still lake reflecting back the mountains and foliage above it, covered in some light snow that hasn't yet melted.

Distance: 10.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,900 feet

This hike is perfect for anyone looking for a low-mileage overnight backpacking trip or a challenging day hike! At just over 10 miles round trip, you can expect the first half of the trail to be an uphill slog. However, the dessert of this rugged incline is two pristine alpine lakes surrounded by beautiful rocky cliffs.

Begin the trek at the Lupine Meadow Trailhead and head toward Glacier Gulch. After many switchbacks, you will first reach Surprise Lake. A little farther down the trail awaits Amphitheater Lake.

Lake Solitude

Green and brown grass, with some pine trees sparsely populating the landscape, and a tiny blue lake at the foot of mountains on a remote Grand Teton hike.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,350 feet

Another hike that begins at Jenny Lake is the beautiful hike to Lake Solitude. Surrounded by mighty peaks, Lake Solitude is a great challenge for anyone looking to experience an alpine lake, possible wildlife sightings, and seasonal wildflowers.

The hike to Lake Solitude begins just like the hike to Inspiration Point, with a boat ride across Jenny Lake. This time, when you make it up to Inspiration Point, you will continue climbing on the trail instead of turning around.

The trail will level out a bit after Inspiration Point as you enter into Cascade Canyon. In the early summer, you will see a variety of colorful wildflowers. As you always should while hiking in Grand Teton National Park, be bear aware as you make your way deeper into the canyon.

The trail passes by a series of ponds before the scenery transformed into a pine forest. Keep trekking along until you finally arrive at the lake!

Lake Solitude sits just above 9,000’ in elevation and should only be tackled by experienced hikers that are prepared for a challenge.

Christian Pond Loop

A blue river or pond surrounded by yellowing grass with some low mountains behind it

Distance: 3.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 250 feet

This easy loop is well-known for wildlife and wildflowers!

Begin your hike to Christian Pond from the trailhead parking next to the horse corrals at the Jackson Lake Lodge. As you approach the pond, be on the lookout for moose and elk grazing as well as trumpeter swans gliding through the shallow water.

The trail leads to the shores of Emma Matilda Lake before looping back toward the trailhead. Take a little detour and hike along the lake’s edge. Another great spot for wildlife viewing! When you’ve taken in all in head back to the Christian Pond Loop and back to the trailhead.

Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail

A mostly still lake reflecting the mountains of the Teton Range beautifully in its glassy, slightly rippled surface.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 150’

The Lakeshore Trail in Colter Bay is a perfect walk for families or anyone new to hiking in a national park! The trail is made up of two scenic loops and can be shortened as necessary to meet your experience and comfort level.

From the Colter Bay Visitor Center, walk toward the marina and find the trailhead for the Lakeshore Trail. From the trail, hikers can easily access the rocky shore of Jackson Lake to take photos or scout for wildlife.

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Winter in Zion National Park: What to Know Before You Go

Many outdoor enthusiasts argue that winter in Zion is the best time to visit this beloved national park in southwest Utah!

Home to Angels Landing and the famous Emerald Pools, Zion National Park is often ranked as one of the most visited national parks in the United States.

However, in the winter, Zion’s tall canyon walls become accented in powdery white snow, and the crowds of summer become a distant memory. 

Although the shift in seasons may change the scenery, there are still many fun activities in Zion National Park in the winter! However, there are a few things you should know about visiting Zion in winter, first.

Zion Winter Road Closures

Curve in the road going through a snow covered section of Zion National Park in the winter on a sunny day

Zion Scenic Drive

During peak visitation in the summertime and between December 24th – January 2nd, the Zion Scenic Drive can not be accessed by personal vehicle.

All visitors wishing to explore the Zion Scenic Drive by vehicle must use the park’s shuttle bus system.

The wintertime buses generally run between 8 am and 5 pm and can be used to access trailheads for hikes like Emerald Pools and the West Rim.

When the shuttle bus is not operating in Zion National Park, visitors can use their personal vehicles to access the trailheads and attractions along the Zion Scenic Drive.

The park service recommends arriving at trailheads early in the day because trailheads do fill up. Once a trailhead is full, there will be no more parking allowed, so it is a good idea to have a secondary plan in place.

Zion Mount-Carmel Highway

For visitors traveling from Springdale, UT to the eastern side of the park near Mt Carmel Junction, the Zion Mount-Carmel Highway is the shortest route. This drive does pass under the famous Zion Mount-Carmel Tunnel, which is just over 1 mile long!

Passenger vehicles can pass through the tunnel at any time, but oversized vehicles do have a few prerequisites and restrictions.

All vehicles 11’4” tall or taller or 7’10” wide or wider, including attachments and accessories, will require a tunnel permit. Tunnel permits can be obtained at the entrance stations and cost $15 in addition to park entrance fees.

The final obligation of oversized vehicles using the tunnel is that the vehicles must use the tunnel during operating hours, which are between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm in the winter.

Semi-trucks, vehicles over 13’1”, and single vehicles over 40’ long are prohibited. For more information on prohibited tunnel vehicles or using the tunnel, contact Zion National Park at (435) 772-3256.

Kolob Canyons Road

Wintertime conditions such as impassable snow and icy roads can cause frequent temporary closures on Kolob Canyons Road. The road is maintained throughout the wintertime and is open to private vehicles year-round.

Kolob Terrace Road and Lava Point Road

The Kolob Terrace Road is open year-round. However, 4-wheel drive and tire chains may be required to pass safely through the winter driving conditions.

West Rim Road

The West Rim Road closes during the winter season.

Zion Winter Hours of Operation and Facilities

Snow on the valley floor of Zion National Park, next to a small river, with snow-covered trees and red cliff rock faces showing a winter Zion landscape

Although Zion National Park is always open to the public, some of the facilities do undergo reduced hours of operation come wintertime.

If you are visiting Zion National Park in the winter, you will want to be aware of these facility hours and seasonal closures:

Zion Canyon Visitor Center: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Zion Canyon Wilderness Desk: 8:00 am – 10:00 am and 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Park Store: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Kolob Canyons Visitor Center: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm

Zion Human History Museum: closed

Zion Nature Center: closed

It is always a good idea to begin a national park trip with a stop at the visitor center. This is a great way to make sure you have the most up to date information, and it allows you to review your itinerary with professional park staff. They may even have some insider tips to share with you!

Winter Camping in Zion National Park

Snow-covered mountain near the Watchman Campground, with a partly cloudy sky in the background. Red rock showing behind the snow.

Many who come to Zion National Park choose to camp during their visits. During the summer months, there are three different campgrounds: Watchman Campground, South Campground, and Lava Point Campground.

However, Lava Point and South close in the fall leaving Watchman Campground as the only front country year-round camping option in Zion National Park in winter.

Although there are many other lodging accommodations and campgrounds in the town of Springdale, UT, winter visitors with their hearts set on camping at Watchman Campground should plan to arrive early for first come, first serve camping beginning in December.

The campground capacity does reduce for the winter season in Zion!

Winter Safety in Zion National Park

Icy Trails

With limited daylight and cold nighttime temperatures in the wintertime, one of the greatest cold season hazard in Zion Canyon becomes icy trails and icy chains.

Many of the most popular trails, including Angels Landing, remain open year-round. It’s not uncommon to have clear dry trails.

However, ice may be lingering in the shady sections of high elevation trails, which can be especially dangerous on trails like Angels Landing which have sheer-face drops and require the use of chains for leverage!

To combat icy trails, many hikers choose to carry along Yaktrax or spikes. These handy accessories will help you keep your footing on slick surfaces.

Hypothermia

A woman in a lavender top and leggings hiking the ridge of Angel's Landing covered in a light snow, looking over a snow-covered valley in Zion in winter.

When your body temperature falls to dangerously cool levels, you begin to experience hypothermia.

Although Zion National Park is well-known for its mild wintertime temperatures, wet clothes combined with lower temps found in the narrow canyons can create a high-risk.

To avoid hypothermia, the park service recommends wearing non-cotton clothing and eating high-energy foods before chill takes effect.

Thermal layers and leggings will keep you a lot warmer than cotton, and be sure to also bring a waterproof jacket in case of rain, sleet, or snow.

Rockfall

Rock formations covered in snow, surrounded by fog on a wintry day in Zion national park

Rockfall is a year-round hazard in Zion National Park. When recreating within the steep canyon, be aware and alert.

If a rockfall occurs, the park service advises visitors to safely move out of the way. If it is not possible to move out of the way of falling rock, seek shelter behind a large and stable rock feature and place your backpack over your head.

Although rockfall can occur at any time, the risk can become increased due to water freezing behind the cliff walls. When the water freezes, it can cause the cracks behind rocks to expand occasionally lodging the rocks out of place.

Rain is also a big risk for causing rockslides, so even if it’s not freezing or snowing, you do have to be aware when visiting Zion in the winter!

Things to Do in Zion in Winter

Snowshoe to Observation Point

Kolob Canyon walls covered in a light snow which shows from underneath the red rock, a stormy sky with dark clouds above.

If you are fortunate enough to visit Zion National Park after a fresh snowfall, you may be able to cross country ski or snowshoe on some of the park trails! The higher elevation areas in Zion can hold snow from late October until March.

Kolob Canyons’ high  elevation makes it a great place to have fun in the snow all winter long. However, if you are looking for a snowshoe adventure in the main part of Zion National Park, you must check out the trail to Observation Point!

Beginning from the Weeping Rock Trail, hike up the switchbacks and out of the deep canyon. You may not need snowshoes at the beginning part of the hike, but the East Rim is known for holding deep snow. Check current conditions with a ranger before departing!

The trail to Observation Point is much wider than the trail to Angels Landing, but it has quite a bit more elevation gain. From Observation Point, you will be 700 feet higher than the summit at Angels Landing! This 8-mile round trip hike includes a look at Echo Canyon as well as one of the most iconic views in all of Zion National Park.

Take a Scenic Drive Through Zion Canyon

Snow-covered canyon walls with a sunny sky with some clouds, a plowed road that is empty winding through Zion in winter.

Parts of the Zion Scenic Drive are closed to private vehicles during the summer season. Once the crowds disperse, the shuttle bus shuts down, and visitors are allowed to travel through this section of Zion National Park in their own vehicles.

Traveling this scenic route in your personal vehicle allows for the opportunity to stop as needed and take in the gorgeous canyon views. This 57-mile scenic drive is well worth the trip with chances to see wildlife and the ability to stop frequently for photographs. The drive takes about 1.5 hours depended on the number of detours you choose to explore!

Most travelers begin the drive near St. George, UT, and continue through Zion National Park toward Mt Carmel Junction.

Try for Wildlife Viewing

Two goats or sheep with horns looking at the camera, perched on some snow on a red rock landscape in Zion National Park in winter.

There is no better season than winter to spot some of Zion National Park’s wild turkeys roaming the canyon.

Although some of the park wildlife hibernates during the wintertime, it is still possible to spot mule deer, bighorn sheep, and even eagle along the Virgin River!

Binoculars and a keen eye may be necessary to spot some of these well-camouflaged residents. Roaming the park after a fresh snowfall may make it easier to spot deer and bighorn sheep.

Practice Your Wintertime Photography

View of Zion's red rock cliff landscape juxtaposed with bits of white snow in the higher elevation crevices of the canyon on a blue sky winter day in Zion National Park

Zion National Park’s beautiful landscape becomes something even more picturesque once the snow begins to fall. The tall cliffs become dusted with powdery white snow and the wall’s red colors begin to pop.

Visitors hoping to capture Zion’s winter landscape can travel the Zion Scenic Drive while using turnouts and designated parking areas to find the perfect angle. Since many of the trails stay open year-round, photographers can also hike to scenic vistas like Angels Landing and Observation Point.

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Winter in Glacier National Park: 21 Things to Know Before You Go!

Towering peaks, lush meadows, alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife sightings await visitors in Glacier National Park no matter the time of year.

A well-known piece of the Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park is home to over 700 miles of hiking trails, making it a paradise for outdoor adventures!

In the summertime, grizzly bear can be spotted grazing in the meadows and the tall peaks of the Northern Rocky Mountains reflect in the icy blue waters of Lake McDonald. The highest peaks in Glacier can hold deep snow all summer long depending on the year, but many of the hiking trails are accessible without snowpack between June and September.

Glacier National Park quickly begins to transform into a winter wonderland come late fall. Although the backcountry in Glacier National Park is more accessible during the warm season, there is still much to explore and see once the snow begins to fall.

However, a winter vacation to Glacier National Park still requires some forethought and planning due to challenges that snow and closures present. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Glacier National Park in winter!

Glacier National Park Winter Road Conditions

Going to the Sun Mountain from the East Tunnel of the Going to the Sun Road, the sides of the mountain are covered in a light snow, road has been plowed before the road closes in Glacier National Park in winter.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

The stretch of road between the Lake McDonald Lodge and St. Mary Entrance is closed throughout the wintertime. When the road closes is entirely dependent on weather and road conditions.

The Going-to-the-Sun road reopens again once the national park operators can plow the alpine section of road clear of snow and it is deemed safe for private vehicle traffic. Due to the somewhat unpredictable mountain weather, there are no set opening or closing dates.

This road is considered one of the best scenic drives in the USA, but in the wintertime, it is socked in under many feet of snow with even deeper snowdrifts!

Once spring approaches, the road sees various stages of reopening. Be sure to call ahead for an accurate and updated road conditions report.

West Entrance to Lake McDonald Lodge

This is the only section of road that stays open year-round, weather permitting. This ten-mile stretch of road from the West Entrance to the Lake McDonald Lodge is plowed throughout the winter to allow for private vehicle traffic.

Just beyond the Lake McDonald Lodge, the road is gated to prevent further travel.

Many Glacier Road

The road to the Many Glacier Hotel is closed between November and April due to impassable winter road conditions. Folks who wish to explore this section of the park in the snow must either snowshoe or ski down the road.

Two Medicine Road

This road also goes unplowed during the wintertime and is considered closed once the snow is impassable. Call to talk to a ranger at Glacier National Park for current road conditions.

Inside North Fork Road

The Inside North Fork Road travels the western boundary of Glacier National Park leading travelers towards the Canadian Border. During the summer, the road is bumpy and is best taken at a leisurely pace. Once the snow begins to pile up, the road closes to private vehicle traffic.

Camas Road

The Camas Road, which connects West Glacier to Polebridge closes due to impassable snow conditions. However, it does transition into a fun scenic snowshoe trail once the snow is deep enough.

Winter Weather in Glacier National Park

An empty bench with footstep tracks next to it, looking out over Lake McDonald and all the snow-covered mountains surrounding it.

Winter in Glacier National Park can be summed up in a word: cold. I mean, the word ‘glacier’ in the name should be a hint!

Here is the average temperatures for winter months in Glacier National Park (which I’ll call November through March)

November: Average highs of 33° F and average lows of 21° F, with approximately 19 days of rain or snow.

December: Average highs of 27° F and average lows of 14° F, with approximately 19 days of rain or snow.

January: Average highs of 30° F and average lows of 17° F, with approximately 19 days of rain or snow.

February: Average highs of 32° F and average lows of 14° F, with approximately 16 days of rain or snow.

March: Average highs of 39° F and average lows of 20° F, with approximately 18 days of rain or snow.

Winter Hours of Operation and Facilities in Glacier NP

Snow-covered evergreen trees next to a lake, in front of a pyramid-shaped mountain covered in light snow.

Although recreation in Glacier National Park is technically open year-round, some of the facilities undergo reduced hours of operation or close completely come wintertime.

However, note that restrooms and potable water are available at the Apgar Visitor Center year-round.

If you are planning to visit Glacier National Park during the off-season, which is between late September and early May, you will want to be aware of these changes to facility operations:

Apgar Visitor Center: Closed during the winter. Outdoor informational exhibits are open year-round.

Logan Pass Visitor Center: Closed during the winter.

St. Mary Visitor Center: Closed during the winter.

Apgar Village Camp Store: Open intermittently throughout winter.

Backcountry Permit Offices: Call to assure staffing.

Note: All in-park lodging is closed during the wintertime, so you will want to stay in a nearby town, like West Glacier, Hungry Horse, or Whitefish.

Since Glacier National Park is home to such a rugged winter environment, it is a good idea to begin your trip by calling ahead to talk with a park ranger.

Where to Stay near Glacier National Park in Winter

Since you can’t actually stay in the park in the winter, you’ll have to stay nearby. Luckily, there are plenty of great options: these ones are all in Whitefish, which has the most options in terms of accommodations, but you can also look at West Glacier, Hungry Horse, or Kalispell.

Luxury

Lodge at Whitefish Lake: This cozy 4-star lodge boasts a beautiful location, an on-site spa, cozy rooms, and an award-winning restaurant — what else could you want when visiting Glacier in winter? The Spa is a great place to relax after a day recreating in Glacier National Park, with massages, facials, treatments, a steam room, a hot tub, a relaxation room, and more in their wellness center!
>> Book your stay the Lodge at Whitefish Lake here

Mid-Range

The Firebrand: This chic boutique hotel is one of Whitefish’s newest offerings, and it’s a great place with tons of personality. Amenities include a fitness center, ski storage and ski pass sales, and on-site restaurants and bars. Cozy robes and luxe en-suite bathrooms make each room feel spa-perfect.
>> Book a stay at the Firebrand here

Budget

Grouse Mountain Lodge: This cozy lodge is no-frills, but it’s a lovely place to stay in the winter when all you want is a roaring fireplace, lovely log cabin vibes, and snow-covered scenery! It has some great amenities including an outdoor firepit and hot tub as well as an indoor pool and a Finnish-style dry sauna.

Winter Camping in Glacier National Park

The unfrozen surface of Lake McDonald in early winter in Glacier National Park, reflecting the snow-covered mountains with a patch of fog on a sunny winter day.
Lake McDonald, where you’ll find the only winter Glacier campground at Apgar Campground

Many national park travelers like to camp during their outdoor adventures. Glacier National Park is home to thirteen front-country campgrounds, which are spread throughout the one million acre park!

During the busy season between May and most of September, many of the popular campgrounds are on an online reservation system and are full each night.

Out of the thirteen front-country campgrounds, Apgar Campground on Lake McDonald is the only one that stays open year-round.

The campground sees reduced site availability and primitive camping only during the cold season. Primitive camping in Glacier National Park means there are vault toilets open, but no potable water available.

Luckily, if you are unable to snag a site inside the park, there are plenty of camping opportunities and lodging accommodations ranging in levels of luxury nearby in West Glacier and Hungry Horse.

Winter Safety in Glacier National Park

A man wearing weather-appropriate clothing hiking through the snow, exhibiting winter safety guidelines in Glacier National Park in the snow.

Hypothermia

When your body temperature falls to dangerously cool levels, you begin to experience hypothermia. Wet clothes combined with freezing outside temperatures can create a high-risk environment.

To avoid hypothermia, the park service recommends wearing non-cotton clothing and doing everything possible to avoid submerging yourself in water.

According to the National Park Service, water is the number one cause of fatality in Glacier. If you are recreating near water, avoid walking on slippery rocks and crossing over moving water on thin snowbridges.

Staying Found

Trails covered in a fresh layer of snow can become difficult to follow. As you snowshoe, ski, or hike along, pay close attention to trail markers and junctions signs. Cell phone coverage is spotty to nonexistent in most areas of Glacier National Park. If you do become lost, stay where you are, and wait for rescue.

Always pack a map with navigation tools, and remember to tell someone where you are going before departing for the trail. If you are unsure of your abilities, always go with companions.

Avalanche

The deep powdery snow combined with the steep mountain terrain in Glacier National Park is the perfect formula for avalanches.

If you plan to recreate in the backcountry during the winter season, you should be professionally trained in avalanche safety and know how to use the appropriate safety gear.

Snowbridges

The thin layers of snow and ice covering water, crevasses, or massive snow caves can be difficult to detect. The fragile ice can give way to your body weight and leave you victim to the hazards below.

Before recreating on glaciers, in snowfields, or near bodies of water in the winter, be sure to talk to a park ranger about snowbridge safety.

Wildlife

Glacier National Park is home to diverse and magnificent wildlife. Although there will be many great opportunities to view wildlife, always make sure you are doing so safely. If it is a hoofed animal, such as moose, elk, sheep, and goats, keep back 75 feet. For grizzly and black bears, always try to maintain a distance of at least 300 feet.

Although bear hibernate in the wintertime, Glacier National Park is still grizzly country. Carry bear spray and follow appropriate bear aware protocol while recreating.

Things to Do in Glacier National Park in Winter

Go for a Scenic Drive

Icy surface of Lake McDonald as seen in winter, wth snow and ice on the banks of the lake, with snow-covered mountains in the distance.

As you have learned, many of the roads in Glacier National Park shut down due to impassable snow in the wintertime. However, there is still enough roadway open to private vehicle traffic for a fun drive through the snowy mountains!

The section of road between the West Entrance and the Lake McDonald Lodge remains open year-round due to the exceptional plow operators. The 10-mile stretch of road winds along the scenic and picturesque shore of Lake McDonald.

Although you may not get to see the lake’s colorful rock shores in the wintertime, you can still appreciate the towering peaks, such as Stanton Mountain, McPartland Mountain, and Heavens Peak, in the background.

This drive is perfect for photographers hoping to capture the beauty of Glacier National Park’s front country. As you drive along, use the frequent turnouts to access the lake’s shore and capture every accessible angle.

It is common to spot whitetail deer roaming along the roadway, but keep an eye out for other wildlife like moose, elk, fox, and coyote.

The bear may be fast asleep during your visit, but if you’re coming during the late fall or early spring, it is possible to spot bear grazing along the shore.

Go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing

Female hiker in snowshoes with trekking poles wearing a black jacket and baby blue pants, looking over a snow-covered mountainous landscape in Glacier National park in the winter time.

Winter is the dominant season in Glacier National Park and all of northern Montana, since all the other seasons are so short-lived!

To make the best of the snowy months and continue exploring, strap on a pair of snowshoes or cross country skis.

The Apgar Village has a variety of ski and snowshoe trails for everyone to enjoy. For a short 3-mile outing, consider exploring the Lower McDonald Creek Trail.

Those who are looking for something a little longer in the Apgar Village area might like the 6-mile round trip trail to Rocky Point, which offers multiple viewpoints featuring Lake McDonald and surrounding peaks!

Take a scenic snowmobile ride

Snowmobile tracks on the frozen lake at Whitefish Lake in Whitefish, MT with houses and lodges in the background.

For those looking for a little high-octane adventure, rent a snowmobile and explore the backcountry areas around Glacier National Park for yourself.

While snowmobiling is not permitted within the park itself, you can snowmobile just outside of the park’s limits. Snowmobiling is one of the most popular winter activities for visitors to Northern Montana, with snowmobile tours departing from common bases like Whitefish and West Glacier.

I recommend traveling with Action Rentals, who offer independent and guided snowmobile rentals departing from Whitefish, MT.

Book a snowmobile rental here!

Go ice climbing

A woman in a pink jacket and red pants climbing up the icicles of a frozen waterfall with climbing equipment and harness.

Winter’s answer to rock climbing is ice climbing!

This fun activity allows you to scale up beautiful, otherworldly landscapes like frozen waterfalls and icy, snow-covered cliff edges, equipped with little more than ice picks and a harness.

Ice climbing is dangerous to do solo, so make sure you go with a trusted guide like Whitefish Vertical Adventures.

What to Pack for Glacier National Park in Winter

Baby blue and pastel pink sky at sunrise over the trees and mountains of the Montana winter landscape in Glacier National Park

Waterproof Parka: In the snow of Glacier in winter, you’ll want a really warm winter jacket, like this ultra-insulated North Face parka. I admit it’s a bit pricy, but it comes with a guarantee that it’ll last a lifetime.. and I tested this guarantee by sending in a zipper to be fixed which got damaged after 4 years of abuse wearing it every winter day to cycle 15 miles — my jacket came back like new and better than ever.

I’ve had my North Face parka for literally 10 years, and it’s held up from winters biking through New York City to multiple trips north of the Arctic Circle in places like Tromso and Abisko. It’ll serve you well in Glacier in winter!

Get the exact jacket I have here! 

Waterproof Pants: If you’re cross-country skiing or snowboarding or doing some winter hiking, you’ll absolutely want waterproof pants. Jeans put you at risk of hypothermia if you get wet, so avoid at all costs.

Snow Boots: Since you’ll likely be trudging through quite deep snow both in Glacier National Park and wherever you set up your base, you’ll absolutely need proper snow boots for a trip to Glacier in winter. I love these stylish and warm Sorel boots for women, which are waterproof and warm but also have plenty of traction. For added steadiness on your feet, throw on some Yaktrax to the bottom for grip on icy surfaces and pathways. These are a godsend (they saved me from eating it many times when I was in Tromso!)

Warm Leggings: There are two choices when it comes to a cozy base layer for your bottom half: fleece-lined for people with sensitive skin like me, and merino wool for people who don’t find wool itchy like I do. I own several pairs of these fleece-lined leggings in a variety of colors (I have black, gray, and maroon). Be sure to wear waterproof layers over this if you’ll be out in the snow, though! For people who like wool, merino wool leggings are the way to go – the absolute warmest you can get. However, it’s too much wool for me to handle, but I have particularly sensitive skin.

Fleece-Lined Knit Hat: If you enjoy fashion, winter can be a bit of a drag because you basically commit to one jacket (typically in a neutral color) for an entire season. I absolutely live for livening up my look with tons of different colors of knit hats. I have one in virtually every color, but I love red and yellow best for the best ‘pop’ of color against the snow. Since I have so many hats, I don’t really have anything special: just a snug knit hat lined in fleece and with a pompom that does absolutely nothing to add warmth but I love them anyway.

Thermal Top Layer: Again, what kind of thermal you go for will definitely depend on whether or not you have any skin sensitivities and if you can handle wool. I hate wool on anything but socks, so instead, I go for thin performance thermals like this Heat Plus layer from 32 Degrees. However, if you’re a fan of wool, a merino wool base layer will keep you insanely warm. Better yet, wool doesn’t trap odors the same way other materials do, meaning you can re-wear it several times before your under-layers will need to be washed — great for people who pack light!

An Enormous Scarf: I go for big, warm, and infinite-style scarfs. I tend to opt for bright, bold colors to liven up my look. I love these ones — they’re cheap and feel cashmere-soft, but they aren’t pricy like it.

Touchscreen Friendly Gloves: You’ll likely want to have your hands out of your pockets at times when you’re navigating on Google Maps, looking up something you’ve bookmarked (maybe this blog?), etc.! Most gloves these days tend to be touchscreen-friendly, but check before you buy. These gloves are cute, smartphone-compatible, and inexpensive.

Waterproof Gloves: You’ll also want to layer waterproof gloves over your touchscreen gloves if you’re snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, or anything where you are out and about in the snow and need your hands out for balance or gripping poles, etc.

Headlamp (and Extra Batteries): Glacier National Park in winter can get dark early — and quickly! — due to the early sunset time that naturally occurs in winter… plus the mountains making it get dark long before that! Bring a headlamp in case any outdoor excursions take longer than expected. You don’t want to get lost after dark in the snow. This Petzl headlamp is highly-rated and affordable.

Waterproof Backpack: You’ll want to keep your belongings dry, especially if you’re doing long treks on cross-country skis or snowshoes in the snow or freezing rain. Bring a waterproof backpack — you won’t regret it, especially if you’re carrying pricy camera equipment.

Snowshoes (optional): Many trails in Glacier National Park in winter will require proper snowshoes (different than snow boots — these allow you to ‘float’ on top of snow instead of sinking through it!) as well as trekking poles if you want to do some winter exploring. You can also rent them, but they’re pretty cheap to buy and will last you for future winter trips, so I recommend investing in them if you are a fan of snow travel.

Camera: You’ll want a camera to capture all that Glacier National Park winter beauty. I use and love my Sony A6000! It’s mirrorless, so it’s lightweight and perfect for a high-quality camera that won’t weigh you down. Be sure to bring a handful of extra batteries! Trust me, I’ve learned from many an experience in the cold photographing the Northern Lights that batteries burn out sooo much faster in the cold.

Battery Pack: Going off of what I said above, extend that to your phone as well! Cold weather depletes cell phone batteries extra quickly, so if you’re using your cell phone as your primary camera and navigation device (and who doesn’t these days?) you’ll absolutely want the ability to power up without a wall outlet while you’re out enjoying nature. I rely on an Anker battery pack to keep all my devices charged in the cold — and as a blogger who takes frequent winter trips to the Arctic and beyond with way more gear than a normal person needs, it’s served me very well!

Your Ultimate 2 Day Everglades National Park Itinerary

everglades with an airboat tour

Rich with diverse wildlife and vegetation, Everglades National Park is a must-see destination for anyone fond of birding, hiking, paddling, or being surrounded by salty ocean air.

Here, the Atlantic Ocean meets the dense mangrove forests of southern Florida to form this spectacular environment, which is home to 36 protected species.

This 1.5 million-acre subtropical wilderness is habitat to over 360 species of migratory and nesting birds!

In addition to the plethora of avian species, the area is also home to the Florida panther, manatee, American crocodile, and some species that can only be found in Everglades National Park.

Grab your camera, sunblock, bug spray, and sense of adventure because a lot is waiting to be explored in America’s third-largest and one of the best national parks!

PLANNING FOR EVERGLADES AT A GLANCE:  

When to Go: Everglades might be an all-year-round destination but the best time to visit is between December and April which is the park's dry season. At this time of the year, mosquitoes and other biting flies are almost non-existent plus there is an increase in the number of wild animals as they gather to drink from the remaining water holes — this makes wildlife viewing a breeze.

Where to Stay: There are no lodges inside the park but you can find lots of accommodation in the nearby cities. But if you want to stay inside the park, you can opt for tent camping or rent an RV.

However, if camping is not your thing, there are various accommodation types in the nearby cities and towns but I recommend basing yourself in Homestead since the park is huge and this Everglades itinerary is written with an assumption that you'll be staying on the east side of the park.

In that case, I recommend staying at Floridian Hotel for a comfortable and affordable stay, Courtyard by Marriott Homestead for an upscale and luxurious stay, Hilton Garden Inn at Homestead for a cozy and familiar stay in a hotel chain. And if you prefer a homey feel, I suggest staying at this lovely home.

How to Get Around: A car is essential for visiting Everglades National Park as there is no public transportation to or from the park, and without a car, you'd have to rely on tours. If you're renting a car, compare car rentals and prices from here. Alternately, you can rent an RV or campervan via RVShare and save on accommodations. 

Don't want to drive or plan? You can book this full-day Everglades tour from Miami.  

3 Things Not to Forget to Pack: Binoculars are key for spotting wildlife like Alligators, Flamingos, and bison-- I suggest these Nikon binoculars. For hikes, you'll want a sturdy pair of hiking boots -- I love my Ahnu boots -- and some bug spray to keep away mosquitoes and biting flies. 

Know Before You Go: If you plan to visit multiple national parks in a year, the America the Beautiful Pass will save you a bundle! It costs $80 for an annual pass (for an entire vehicle traveling together) to all US national parks and federally managed sites. 

Where to Stay in the Everglades

airboats in the everglades national park

For the purpose of this Everglades itinerary, we’re going to suggest you stay in Homestead, as the park is really large and we’ve opted to cover the park as if you were based on the east side of the park, as many people visit the Everglades from Miami or as a side trip on their way driving to Key West, as opposed to coming from Western Florida.

COMFORT | For a cozy stay in a familiar chain hotel known for classic comfort, opt for the Hilton Garden Inn at Homestead. I’ve stayed at many Hilton Garden Inns over the years and I’m always impressed by the high-quality amenities and spacious rooms at a reasonable price.
Perks here include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and a 24/7 front desk.
>> Check prices, reviews, and availability here

UPSCALE | For a slightly more luxe stay, opt for the Courtyard by Marriott Homestead, which has a gorgeous outdoor pool area with plenty of sun lounger seating, a beautiful indoor/outdoor lobby, and spacious rooms with all the standard creature comforts. Other amenities include a fitness center, on-site restaurant, and dry cleaning and laundry services.
>> Check prices, reviews, and availability here

BUDGET | For a comfortable yet affordable stay, check the Floridian Hotel. It’s not quite as highly rated as the two above properties, but at about half the price of the other two choices, it’s not at all hard on the budget. There’s still an outdoor pool (and a shuffleboard court), but rooms and amenities are more modest, particularly the fitness center is a big downgrade from the above two options. If you just want to have a place to lay your head at night, though, this will do the trick!
>> Check prices, reviews, and availability here

What to Pack for 2 Days in Everglades

swamp in the everglades with lily pads and reeds

I have a complete road trip packing list here but below is an overview of the essentials you’ll need in Everglades.

Travel guides: While I’ve packed this Everglades itinerary with all the useful information you might need, sometimes guide books provide more details as they have more time to do all the research needed! Combine my first-hand experience with this Everglades National Park guide book and I guarantee you’ll have an amazing time in the park.

Layered Clothing: Depending on the time of the year you visit, you’ll want at least 2 shirts (synthetic or wool, long and/or short sleeve depending on the season), 2 pairs of leggings or pants, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 fleece outer layer, a waterproof jacket, beanie, gloves, and 3 pairs of socks.

Comfortable Footwear: There are many exciting trails to hike but you’ll need comfortable hiking boots or even sneakers. I never go hiking without my Ahnu Sugarpine boots for women, and for men, I suggest the KEEN Durand boot. If you opt to go with sneakers, make sure they have good traction and are comfortable enough to hike in for several 2-4 miles.

Sunscreen: Being in the dry season, you can be assured of sunburns if you don’t wear sunscreen. But don’t just take any random sunscreen — I suggest this chemical-free organic sunscreen. Wear it all the time and keep reapplying it every few hours for maximum protection.

Sunhat: A sunhat will not only accentuate your wildlife look but also protect you from the sun. I recommend this packable hat with a strap to avoid being blown away by the wind. And the best part is that you can wear it on your back if you get tired of wearing it on the head.

Day pack: A lightweight day pack is essential when visiting Everglades to put in all your travel essentials. I like this inexpensive and compact Osprey day pack. Apart from being durable and lightweight, I like that it has mesh panels on the back to allow for airflow — no more sweaty backs, even in the heat of Florida!

Snacks: Make or pick up a picnic lunch or pack a few snacks to eat in case you get hungry. I suggest things like protein bars (I love CLIF bars), nuts, or other high-density snacks that give you a lot of caloric energy for their weight!

Bug Spray: Everglades is like the breeding home for mosquitoes and biting flies so it would be a mistake to leave bug spray behind. Throw this bug spray in your day pack for maximum protection.

Camera: While my phone camera takes some nice photos, it just doesn’t cut it when it comes to taking good quality wildlife and landscape photos — that’s why I always take my Sony A6000 along, I love it! It’s a mirrorless camera, not a D-SLR, so it doesn’t weigh me down like other larger cameras yet I get the same or even better quality photos with it. But since it’s just the body, you’ll need to carry along a zoom lens for wildlife and a wide-angle lens for landscapes.

First aid kit: Don’t let little things like blisters ruin your Everglades trip! I suggest taking this HART Weekend First Aid kit with you. It’s lightweight and unobtrusive, but if you ever need it, you’ll be glad you packed it.

Water filter bottle: Stay hydrated by packing a water filter bottle that you can refill every time it runs dry! There are a wide variety of water filtration systems and treatments, but I love the GRAYL Geopress. It’s compact and easy to use and filters out 99.99% of microplastics, viruses, bacteria, and other nasty particles, making water instantly safe to drink without plastic waste.

Binoculars: Everglades is a perfect place for birdwatching on top of other wild animals and these Nikon Binoculars will make the experience even more exciting.

Camping essentials: If you plan to camp inside the park, take this camping tent, a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, and a camping stove if you’ll be preparing your meals.

Day 1 of Your Everglades Itinerary

Welcome to Everglades National Park!

If you stayed outside the park in Miami or Homestead, plan for your drive time to the entrance station. Miami is about one hour from the park boundary, while Homestead is the gateway community.

If you’re flying into Miami or Fort Lauderdale, it’s a good idea to rent a car — it’ll be really tricky to navigate a self-guided Everglades itinerary without one.

Not sure where to get the best deal on your rental? I’ve rented cars dozens of times through various search engines and have settled on Discover Cars as the best car rental search aggregator – it sifts through dozens of trusted rental companies to find the cheapest price for your rental! Compare prices for your car rental here!

It’s a good idea to stock up on food and drinks before entering Everglades, especially if you’re planning to camp. Services are quite limited within the park.

Start the day at the Ernest F. Coe Visitors Center

Road to the Visitor Center in Everglades National Park, a road passing through a forest with trees on either side.

The first stop for many visitors when entering the park near Homestead is the Ernest Coe Visitors Center. This is the perfect stop to use the restroom, purchase souvenirs, and pick up a park map.

With a variety of well-designed interpretive displays, the Ernest Coe Visitors Center is also a great place to educate yourself on the park’s history and natural resources.

Don’t forget to watch the park’s orientation film, so that you can learn how to be a good steward of the fragile environment in Everglades National Park.

Although open 365 days per year, check the center’s hours before arriving as they do fluctuate with seasonality.

Walk the scenic Anhinga Trail

A scenic wooden boardwalk winding through a marsh with lots of plant life on the surface of the water, the Anhinga trail is a must on any Everglades itinerary.

Now that you’re fully educated on all that Everglades National Park has to offer, it’s time to hit the trails!

The Anhinga Trail is a perfect place to start. At less than a mile round trip, this trail offers opportunities to spot alligators, turtles, fish, and anhingas.

This is a popular trail in the wintertime because of the excellent birding! A variety of migratory birds flock to this pristine sawgrass marsh beginning in November.

The trailhead is conveniently located at the Royal Palm Visitor Center, which is only a 4-mile drive from the Ernest Coe Visitors Center.

 Walk the Pahayokee Trail

Swamp with vibrant autumn foliage, tan marsh grass and still water, on the Pahayokee Trail.

Continue back onto Main Park Road and head deeper into the Everglades. Stop in the turnouts along the way to take in the landscape!

After about 10 miles, turn right onto Pahayokee Road and continue toward the trailhead parking.

Once you arrive at the trail, hike above the grassy marsh on the raised boardwalk.

The short 0.16-mile scenic trail takes hikers to an overlook platform offering views of the surrounding area. Bring your binoculars along to scout for birds from the overlook.

Check out the wildlife at Eco Pond

The still water of the swamp at Eco Pond mirroring the cloudy sky perfectly in the water.

After a nice scenic drive through the park, you have arrived in the Flamingo Area on the coast.

There are plenty of short walking and hiking trails in this area, but one of the most highly recommended is Eco Lake.

It’s not far past the Flamingo Visitor Center. Look for the trailhead parking on the right.

This leisurely half-mile loop will take you around Eco Pond with chances to spot plenty of wading birds and songbirds.

If you’re observant, you may be able to spot Florida soft shell turtles or American alligators.

Although rewarding in beauty, this trail is famous for its intimidating mosquito population. Bug spray and bug nets are highly recommended!

Try to spot a manatee at the Flamingo Marina and Visitor Center

A manatee taking a breath at the surface of turquoise blue water near the Flamingo Marina in Everglades National Park: an itinerary must!

A fun hike around Eco Pond should be celebrated with an ice cream bar from the Flamingo Marina Store and scouting for manatee around the docks — spotting manatees is one of the top things to do in Florida, so it’s an Everglades itinerary must!

It is common to see these magnificent animals peacefully floating around the marina in the wintertime!

Beginning in November, Florida manatees begin to seek a warm hideout for the colder months ahead. Manatees are unable to withstand exposure to water under 68F for long!

See the Everglades from another perspective

Nose of the red kayak against the background of a man rowing in a kayak and water lilies

The Flamingo Marina is a great basecamp for exploring the open ocean and mangrove canals.

Here, you can rent canoes or kayaks to explore the coastline in search of more manatees, otters, alligators, birds, and even dolphins! This is one of the best places for kayaking in Florida, so be sure to take advantage.

You can also take a mangrove kayaking tour where you enjoy an easy paddle through the unique mangrove forests of the Everglades in a ‘sit-on-top’ style kayak — great for first-time kayakers.

Book a mangrove kayaking tour here!

Find a place to stay near the park

Tent sites placed along the beach in Everglades National Park in Flamingo Campground

As you wrap up your exciting first day in Everglades National Park, there are a few options for lodging accommodations.

Flamingo Campground is right on the beach near the marina, however, staying in Flamingo will leave you with some extra car time the next day.

Staying at Long Pine Key Campground, which is closer to the park entrance, or at a hotel in Florida City are the best options for splitting up the drive.

Wherever you choose to spend the night, plan to get some good rest for another fun (but full) day on your Everglades National Park itinerary!

Day 2 of your Everglades Itinerary

There’s a lot of fun waiting for you on the final day of your Everglades National Park 2 day itinerary, including embarking on one of the best Everglades airboat tours, walking on scenic boardwalks, and learning about the Indigenous history of the Everglades.

Breakfast is best sought in Florida City before hitting the road on Route 41 to another section of the park!

Take an airboat tour at Everglades Safari Park

A man standing on an airboat in a swamp with lots of water lilies floating on the water in Everglades national park

Have you ever been on an airboat? There’s no better place to take your first airboat tour than in the Florida Everglades!

On an Everglades airboat tour, guests coast through the River of Grass with an experienced and knowledgeable guide while searching for wildlife such as American alligators and migratory birds.

In addition to a scenic airboat ride, visitors get to experience alligator wildlife watching paired with an educational talk and the opportunity to explore the crocodilian exhibits along the park’s walking trail.

Book your Everglades airboat tour online here!

If you’re a serious wildlife enthusiast, you may prefer a longer boat ride with a focus on wildlife photography.

In this case, an airboat is not the best option as it can be noisy and unstable. If photography and wildlife spotting is the name of the game, opt for this large boat tour of the Everglades led by a Florida-certified Master Naturalist.

If you’re concerned about keeping social distance, don’t worry — the boat is limited in size to six guests, and there is plenty of room to spread out, set up your tripod, and photograph away to your heart’s content!

On the tour you’ll have the chance to see all sorts of birdlife — from spoonbills to ibises to herons to egrets to bald eagles — as well as marine life like manatees, turtles, and dolphins.

Book your wildlife photography tour in the Everglades here!

This is one of the best ways to have family fun in Florida on a budget!

Visit the Miccosukee Indian Village

Traditional Miccosukee wooden totem shaped like a bird in a wetland scenery in Everglades, Florida

After spending the morning exploring Everglades Safari Park, it’s back on the road toward the Miccosukee Indian Village.

The Miccosukee Native Americans were part of the larger Seminole nation until 1962, when their independent tribe was given formal federal recognition.

The Village graciously welcomes Everglades National Park visitors to learn more about the Tribe’s traditional culture, history, and artisanship.

Explore the village gift shop for handmade crafts or attend one of the world-famous alligator “wrestling” demonstrations.

You might be getting a little hungry by now! Luckily, there is a casual place here called Our Little Eatery.

With a classic menu including burgers and fries, there is something for everyone to enjoy. If you haven’t tried alligator bites yet, now is your chance. Tastes just like chicken!

Head to Shark Valley Visitor Center for a tram or bike tour

The trail through Shark Valley with a large structure that is an observation tower which offers views over the national park

Now that you’re fully fueled up on gator bites, backtrack on the road less than half a mile to the Shark Valley Visitor Center.

The Shark Valley Visitor Center has informational videos, bike rentals, brochures, and souvenirs for purchase in the gift shop.

If time allows, hop on one of the Shark Valley Tram Tours. These fun guided tours take passengers on a scenic ride through the everglades unlike any other.

Halfway through the excursion, passengers can get off the tram to explore the Shark Valley Observation Tower. The tower has the highest observation platform in Everglades National Park.

If you want to get a good workout in, rent bikes at the Shark Valley Visitor Center to explore the 14-mile tram road loop on your own time. Remember, bikes must stay on the designated trail.

Stroll the Bobcat Boardwalk Trail

Boardwalk leading through a swampy landscape with lots of lilies and native swamp plants surrounding the boardwalk trail

Explore Shark Valley’s tropical hardwood forest on the Bobcat Boardwalk Trail. Appropriately named, the trail is made entirely of boardwalk!

Follow the trail as it meanders through the forest and sawgrass slough. This easy walk is a half-mile loop that begins behind the Shark Valley Visitor Center.

Keep your eyes peeled for fish, migratory and nesting birds, and even alligators!

Continue your sightseeing on the Otter Cave Hammock Trail

Woman in a white t-shirt, long light blue pants, and sneakers walking on the boardwalk of Hammock Trail in Everglades National Park

There’s even more to see in Shark Valley on foot! The Otter Cave Hammock Trail is about a mile round trip and wanders farther into the tropical hardwood forest.

This trail is perfect for anyone hoping to see more wildlife after walking the Bobcat Boardwalk.

This trail is easy to follow, but watch your step because it’s primarily composed of rough limestone! Along the way, you’ll cross over a small stream using the sturdy footbridge.

The trailhead for the Otter Cave Hammock Trail is located a half-mile behind the Shark Valley Visitor Center.

During the summer months, the trail can become flooded. Always check on trail conditions at the visitor center before setting out!

***

This is where we leave you to discover your next Florida adventure.

Continue along Tamiami Trail to explore the Gulf Coast and popular ocean cities like Naples and Fort Meyers or rent a canoe to venture deeper into the Everglade’s pristine wilderness.

Wherever you go from here,  you’re sure to bring wonderful stories about your visit to Everglades National Park!

Pin This Guide to Everglades National Park!

Yellowstone in Winter: 30 Useful Things to Know Before Visiting

Yellowstone National Park becomes a wintery wonderland by mid-fall. The peaks are heavy with snowpack, bear hunker down with their full bellies, and the rivers steam at the touch of the frosty air.

As the temperatures begin to drop, the summer crowds disperse and Yellowstone in winter quiets down.

While normally you have to go back-country to get away from the crowds, in winter, Yellowstone front-country becomes a place to seek solitude and silence.

Yellowstone in Winter FAQs

View of Mammoth Hot Springs in sunrise light with lots of mist and steam and pastel colors from morning sun.
What is there to do in Yellowstone in winter?

Quite a lot! While most of the park is closed to private vehicles, snowmobiles and snowcoaches will take you to many of the most scenic parts of Yellowstone without the crowds. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are two of the most popular winter activities in Yellowstone, as well as wildlife spotting and wildlife photography.

Where should I stay in Yellowstone in winter?

Many of the lodges in the park itself are closed, with the exception of the Old Faithful Lodge.

Instead, I recommend staying in Jackson Hole or West Yellowstone.

For Jackson Hole, I suggest Wyoming Inn. This cozy inn features Western-style decor complete with a roaring fireplace, warm woodsy colors, rustic design touches, and large, modern rooms. Check photos and reviews here.

For West Yellowstone, I suggest the hip The Adventure Inn. This stylish spot has a minimalist style, with a Scandinavian sensibility mashed up against a woodsy edge. It’s like a Brooklyn loft and a mountain cabin had a baby: it’s beautiful. Check photos and reviews here.

Can I drive through Yellowstone in winter?

Only through the North Entrance in Gardiner, MT leading to the Northeast Entrance — otherwise a snowcoach or snowmobile transit must be booked. More on that below.

Road Conditions and Seasonal Closures in Yellowstone in Winter

Road leading into Yosemite National Park in winter

As Yellowstone National Park transitions into winter season activities, there are some important dates to keep in mind!

While certain roads close to private vehicles, others begin to open to over-snow transportation such as snowmobile and snowcoach – We’ll talk about these more in a bit.

Yellowstone Entry Price in Winter

Sun low on the horizon showing through a puff of steam from hydrothermal area of boardwalk

The price to enter Yellowstone National Park in winter is the same as at any other time of year: $35 for private vehicles and $30 for snowmobiles, each granting 7 days of admission.

However, if you like National Parks, I highly recommend investing in an America the Beautiful pass! It gives you one year of free entry to all National Parks and other federally-administered protected areas (National Forests, National Seashores, etc. — over 2,000 sites!) for the low price of $79.99.

Plus, 10% of that goes back into the National Park Foundation to keep the land pure, beautiful, and accessible for all.

>> Buy your America the Beautiful annual pass online here! <<

Yellowstone Winter Opening Dates

Paved road with snow covered trees in Yellowstone National Park

These opening dates apply to over-snow travel only. Over-snow travel includes snowmobiling, cross country skiing, snowcoach tours, and snowshoeing. It does not include personal private vehicles.

If you would like to drive your own vehicle into the park, you will need to use the North Entrance in Gardiner, MT — the only open road.

The road between the North Entrance and the Northeast Entrance remains open for private vehicles all year.

The following sections of road open mid-December for over-snow travel:

  • West Entrance to Old Faithful
  • Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful
  • Canyon Village to Norris
  • Canyon Village to Yellowstone Lake
  • Old Faithful to West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake
  • South Entrance to Yellowstone Lake
  • Yellowstone Lake to Lake Butte Overlook

Yellowstone Winter Closing Dates

Yellowstone geyser in winter showing blue turquoise water with orange rim in white snow

If you are planning to make a late winter trip to Yellowstone National Park, you will want to be aware of the winter closing dates for over-snow use.

The following roads close to over-snow travel in early March:

  • Sylvan Pass
  • Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris
  • Norris to Madison Junction
  • Norris to Canyon Village

All remaining roads close for over-snow travel, with the exception of the road between the North Entrance and Northeast Entrance, in mid-March.

Winter Road Conditions in Yellowstone

Curving paved road leading to Yellowstone in winter with snow-covered trees.

Always check on Yellowstone National Park’s official website for updated road conditions before traveling to the park. The weather can change quickly, and you’ll want to be prepared.

That means snow chains if you are driving the North-Northeast Entrance route, safety flares or triangles in case of a breakdown, and warm clothing / emergency blankets in case you are stranded for a while waiting for a tow.

When to Visit Yellowstone in Winter

Frozen Lower Yellowstone falls with trees on the landscape.

The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park for winter activities is between the end of December and the end of February. It’s one of my favorite National Parks to visit in December for good reason!

This is because it falls into the over-snow travel period but before the period ends, and it has the fewest crowds while also having some of the most stunning snow-covered landscapes you can imagine: white snow broken only by the beautiful kaleidoscope of the rainbow-hued geothermal pools in the ground!

Weather in Yellowstone in Winter

Misty foggy landscape of Yellowstone in winter with trees and mountains.

Yellowstone in winter can be summed up in one word: FREEZING.

Fun fact: The West Entrance recorded the park’s record low of -66°F in 1933. BRRR!

Here are the breakdowns for winter weather in Yellowstone and what to expect on a month-by-month basis from November through February.

November: Average high of 34° F and an average low of 13° F, with 12 days of rain/snow

December: Average high of 26° F and an average low of 4° F, with 13 days of rain/snow.

January: Average high of 28° F and an average low of 3° F, with 13 days of snow/rain.

February: Average high of 31° F and an average low of 4° F, with 11 days of snow/rain.

Getting Around Yellowstone in Winter

View from behind of a man on snowmobile with another snowmobile ahead on a sunny winter day.

Traveling in Yellowstone National Park is a little different in the wintertime.

Some pre-trip planning is in order if you plan to visit Old Faithful, Canyon Village, Yellowstone Lake, or any other area of the park that is inaccessible by private vehicle.

If you want to explore these areas of the park during the wintertime, you will want to schedule a snowcoach or snowmobile tour well in advance of your trip date! These excursions are popular among wintertime visitors!

Booking an Over-Snow Tour

A yellow snowcoach plowing through snow in Yellowstone National Park

You have two options for over-snow travel in Yellowstone in winter: snowcoach and snowmobile. And they are very different!

A snowcoach is an enclosed vehicle with large tires capable of driving on the park’s snow-covered roads with ease. They have comfortable seats and large windows for viewing the snowy landscape.

Snowcoach tours are great for families or visitors who want to sit back and relax while exploring the park with a knowledgeable professional.

For those with an adventurous spirit, a snowmobile tour will offer a thrilling Yellowstone winter experience!

Although driving speeds are limited to 25 mph in the park, riding a snowmobile past herds of bison and elk is exhilarating and unlike any other scenic tour. The best part is, the professional outfitters will make sure you are geared up to stay warm throughout the entire ride!

Now, let’s talk about what kind of fun winter activities there are in Yellowstone!

Overwhelmed by Visiting Yellowstone National Park in Winter?

Pack of elk with horns with one standing in the river and others in background

Admittedly, Yellowstone is not the easiest national park to visit in the winter if you are used to being able to drive to different points and not have to worry about over-snow transportation.

If reading this far into the post has gotten you feeling a bit anxious and overwhelmed by all the planning that needs to go into a successful Yellowstone winter trip, I strongly recommend opting for a 4- or 5-day guided tour which will handle all the logistics.

This 4-day tour includes transportation from Jackson, Wyoming on the beginning and end of the tour as well as 3 nights of accommodation in West Yellowstone, ending in Jackson Hole.

It includes the following: wildlife sighting opportunities in Grand Teton National Park (keeping an eye out for wolves, elk, bison, moose, elk, bison, foxes, eagles, deer and more!), a snowcoach trip to see Old Faithful and other hydrothermal areas in Yellowstone National Park, a horse-drawn sleigh ride into the National Elk Refuge, boardwalk hikes through Fountain Paint-Pots and Mud-Pots, and lots of stops for beautiful winter photography opportunities.

Check the itinerary and more details of this 4-day Yellowstone and Grand Teton winter trip!

Pack of four wolves walking through snow in Yellowstone National Park in winter

Another option is this 5-day wildlife-focused tour which covers Yellowstone extensively. It starts in Bozeman, Montana (a wonderful place to stay in winter!) and includes 4 nights of accommodation, dropping you off in Bozeman on the return.

It includes the following winter activities: a day of wildlife sightings (keeping an eye out for both bald and golden eagles, white-tailed deer, coyotes, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, and more), visiting Old Faithful via chartered snowcoach and also seeing Fountain Paint Pots along the way, Cooke City for the best place on earth to see wolves (located in the northern range of Yellowstone), and wolf winter safaris in Lamar Canyon with experienced wildlife guides and wolf researchers.

Check the itinerary and read more details about this 5-day Yellowstone wolf and wildlife focused tour!

Cross Country Skiing in Yellowstone

A white woman smiling and going cross-country skiing in Yellowstone national park

Yellowstone National Park is full of wonderful ski trails from groomed front country loops for beginners to remote backcountry routes for seasoned and highly-experienced skiers!

If you’re interested in getting out into nature on some cross country skis, these are our favorite beginner-friendly trail options for getting out into the nature of Yellowstone National Park in winter!

Upper Terrace Loop Ski Trail

View of Mammoth Hot Springs with orangey-pink sunrise sky and mist floating up from geyser.

A little spontaneous? This trail is great for last-minute trips into Yellowstone National Park in winter.

Since you can drive to the trailhead in your personal vehicle without booking over-snow transportation in advance, there’s often minimal planning involved.

The 1.5-mile loop is routinely groomed, but it can be considered difficult for beginners due to the few steep sections.

Enjoy this scenic trail around the upper terrace geysers and hot pots in Mammoth’s hydrothermal area. It takes about 1-hour to complete this loop, but leave time to take photos with the geysers, including Mammoth Hot Springs, Canary Spring, and Orange Spring Mound!

Black Sand Basin Trail

Steam rising from a geothermal feature with flowing river and snow on each side

The Black Sand Basin Trail is a great option for beginners or experienced cross country skiers!

This groomed ski trail begins at the Old Faithful Visitor Center and heads to the Upper Geyser Basin Trail. The 4-mile trail will take about 3-hours to complete as you glide past the many steaming hydrothermal features.

This ski trail is located near Old Faithful and is inaccessible to private vehicles during the wintertime.

Advanced planning is needed to accommodate for over-snow transportation.

Blacktail Plateau Ski Trail

Pack of elk with horns eating in the snow

Were you hoping to encounter some wildlife while skiing in Yellowstone in winter? Cover some ground on the Blacktail Plateau Ski Trail to spot bison, elk, and maybe a wolf pack in the distance!

This trail has a few challenging sections and stretches 8-miles with a trailhead on both ends.

It is common for skiers to park one vehicle on both ends of the tail or only ski in a few miles before turning around toward the trailhead. Either way, know your experience level and make a plan before hitting the trail.

Cross Country Ski Rental

A man on cross country skis with back turned heading towards a geothermal feature in Yellowstone in winter

Forgot to pack your cross country skis, or don’t know if you want to make the investment in your own pair just yet?

There are plenty of rental shops located in the towns of West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Big Sky, and Bozeman.

Stop by a rental shop or call ahead and they can outfit you with everything you need to experience Yellowstone National Park’s groomed cross country ski trails!

Snowshoeing in Yellowstone

A man with a red jacket and backpack snowshoeing on a misty day with snow

For those looking to take the trails a little slower, snowshoeing is a great option!

Snowshoes and trekking poles can be rented at many of the same outfitters offering cross country ski rentals, so no worries if you couldn’t bring your own along.

Many ski trails in the park are also snowshoe-friendly. Just avoid walking on top of ski tracks whenever possible, as this makes it difficult for cross-country skiers to return (as they trace their tracks!).

Here are a couple of trails to try out.

Observation Point Loop Snowshoe Trail

A blue sky day with snow on the ground and a view of Old Faithful geyser erupting steam high into the air

This trail is a must-do for anyone staying at the Old Faithful Lodge!

Conveniently located just past the Old Faithful Visitor Center, the Observation Point Loop Trail is a great way to watch the timely eruption of the world-famous geyser, Old Faithful!

Strap on your snowshoes because this 2 mile loop trail is closed to skiing. Along the way, you’ll catch views of other area geysers and maybe even some wildlife.

Tower Fall Ski Trail

For those looking for a longer snowshoe outing, the Tower Fall Ski Trail is a great choice.

Along this 5 mile trail, snowshoers will be rewarded with wintry views of Tower Fall and the Yellowstone River Canyon. Keep your eyes peeled, bison and wintering elk frequent these areas!

Winter users can park their personal vehicles in the parking area nearby Tower Junction and follow the unplowed road behind the gate.

The trail begins with a gradual uphill, which is great for warming up on chilly days! This trail is also popular for cross country skiing.

Winter Yellowstone Wildlife Viewing

A red fox looking towards the camera in the snow

A lot of Yellowstone National Park’s wildlife remains active throughout the winter season.

Although bear hibernate in their cozy dens during the snowy months, wildlife such as elk, bison, wolves, fox, coyote and bald eagle can still be spotted!

If you are taking a private tour in a snowcoach or on snowmobiles, your guide will be sure to point out any wildlife in view.

Wildlife Spotting Without a Tour

A grey wolf looking directly at the camera with snow-covered trees behind him

For those who are planning to take their own vehicles into Yellowstone, we have a few tips!

  1. Drive out toward the Lamar Valley with binoculars, hot beverages, and warm blankets. Find a nice spot where you can look out over the valley and start scanning! The Lamar Valley is famous for wolf sightings and a fresh blanket of snow often makes them easier to spot.
  2. In the wintertime, Mammoth Hot Springs becomes a popular spot for wintering elk to settle in. Spend some time in this area and count how many elk you can find!
  3. Bison can often be viewed along the drive to the Lamar Valley. If you see Bison as you drive along, be sure to only stop in designated pullouts for safety.

What to Pack for Yellowstone in Winter

A woman in a pink hooded parka with a camera photographing snow-covered trees

Waterproof Parka: In the snowy weather and freezing temperatures of Yellowstone in winter, you’ll want something like this wonderful North Face parka. It’s pricy to be sure, but it comes with a lifetime guarantee (which I’ve tested by sending in my zipper to be fixed after four years of use and abuse cycling in it all winter long – my jacket came back looking like new!).

I’ve had this one for ten years and it’s held up beautifully from everything to biking in NYC in winter to visiting north of the Arctic circle in Tromso and Abisko. It’ll certainly do you just fine in Yellowstone National Park in winter!

>>> Get yours here! <<<

Waterproof Pants: If you’re doing any winter hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, etc. (basically, anything more intense than just a stroll around town) you’ll want waterproof pants: trust me, jeans just won’t do when you’re dealing with snow this deep.

Snow Boots: For snow boots for walking around Yellowstone National Park as well as whatever town you’re using as your base, I suggest these cute and cozy Sorel boots for women, which are waterproof and warm but also have plenty of traction. Add some Yaktrax to the bottom for grip on icy surfaces and pathways. These are a godsend!

Warm Leggings: You have two options for ultra-warm leggings in winter – fleece-lined for people with sensitive skin like me, and merino wool for people who don’t find wool itchy like I do. I own several pairs of these fleece-lined leggings in a variety of colors (I have black, gray, and maroon). I wear these underneath my waterproof pants in the snow. For people who like wool, merino wool leggings are the way to go – the absolute warmest you can get!

Fleece-Lined Knit Hat: I live in several different colors of knit hats in the winter. Since your jacket is likely a dark or neutral color, it’s fun to liven up your look (and photos) with a selection of colorful beanies. I like a snug knit hat lined in fleece and with a pom pom that does absolutely nothing to add warmth but tons to add cuteness!

Thermal Top Layer: Again, this’ll depend on if you like wool or not. I don’t, so I go for thin performance thermals like this Heat Plus layer from 32 Degrees. However, if you’re a fan of wool, a merino wool base layer will keep you insanely warm and it won’t trap odors, meaning you can re-wear it several times before it needing a wash — great if you like to pack light.

An Enormous Scarf: The bigger and thicker and more wrappable the scarf, the better. I tend to opt for bright, bold colors to liven up my look. I love these ones — they’re cheap and feel soft like cashmere but aren’t pricy (or in my opinion, itchy!) like it!

Touchscreen Friendly Gloves: Taking off your gloves to use your phone when navigating on GPS, looking up something you’ve bookmarked, etc. is so annoying. Most gloves these days tend to be touchscreen friendly, but check before you buy. These gloves are adorable, touchscreen-compatible, and affordable.

Waterproof Gloves: You’ll also want to layer waterproof gloves over your touchscreen gloves if you’re snowshoeing or cross-country skiing and generally out and about a lot in the snow when you can’t put your hands in your pockets.

Headlamp (and Extra Batteries): Yellowstone National Park in winter can get dark early — and quickly — due to the early sunset time plus the mountains making it get darker even before that. Bring a headlamp in case any hikes take longer than expected! This Petzl headlamp is highly-rated and affordable.

Waterproof Backpack: You’ll want to keep your belongings dry, especially if you’re doing long hikes in the snow or freezing rain. Bring a waterproof backpack — you won’t regret it, especially if you’re carrying pricy camera equipment.

Snowshoes (optional): Many trails in Yellowstone in winter will require proper snowshoes (different than snow boots!) and poles if you want to do some winter trekking. You can also rent them, but they’re pretty cheap to buy and will last you for future winter trips!

Camera: You’ll want a camera to capture all that Yellowstone winter beauty. I use and love my Sony A6000! It’s mirrorless, so it’s lightweight and perfect for a high-quality camera that won’t weigh your pack down. Bring extra batteries as they burn out faster in the cold.

Battery Pack: Cold weather depletes cell phone batteries insanely quickly, so if you’re using your cell phone as your primary camera and navigation device (and who doesn’t these days?) you’ll absolutely want the ability to power up without a wall outlet while you’re out enjoying nature. I rely on an Anker battery pack to keep all my devices charged in the cold — and as a blogger who takes frequent winter trips to the Arctic and beyond with way more gear than a normal person needs, it’s served me very well!

Cooke City Excursions

A misty close up view of the peaks near Cooke City

Cooke City is a fun destination for self-guided winter trips into Yellowstone National Park. Here, winter is the primary season!

It’s not uncommon for folks to be snowmobiling in the surrounding national forest area into late June or even July!

If you’re planning on spending the morning searching for wildlife in the Lamar Valley, Cooke City makes a great place to enjoy a hot meal around lunchtime.

***

Bundle up and enjoy your winter adventure into Yellowstone National Park!

Pin This Guide to Yellowstone in Winter

9 Best Hikes in Yellowstone for All Levels of Hikers

With over 900 miles of hiking trails, Yellowstone National Park has plenty of beautiful terrains to explore on foot.

There’s a trail for every experience level and age group from stroller-friendly boardwalk trails abound the colorful geysers near Old Faithful to challenging mountain summits that offer rewarding views of the pristine landscape below.

Pack your backpack, grab your camera, and don’t forget the bear spray. These are the 10 best hikes in Yellowstone National Park you won’t want to miss!

The Best Hikes in Yellowstone for All Levels

Fairy Falls

Distance: 2.5 miles (5 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 250 feet

Who doesn’t love a scenic waterfall hike in Yellowstone? Fairy Falls is arguably the m ost beautiful waterfall in Yellowstone National Park, but lesser-known than Tower Falls, Upper Falls, and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone.

Fairy Falls is most commonly accessed from the Midway Geyser Basin near Grand Prismatic. To hike to Fairy Falls from the Midway Geyser Basin, park in the Fairy Falls Parking Area about 1 mile south of the geyser basin parking.

From the parking area, cross the bridge over the Firehole River and follow signs to Fairy Falls. After about a half-mile of hiking, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful overlooking view of the Midway Geyser Basin including Grand Prismatic.

This is a perfect spot to stop for photos! The Yellowstone hike to Fairy Falls is about 2.5 miles each way, with under 250 ft of elevation gain. Once you arrive at the falls, you’ll be blown away by the water’s free fall from 200 ft above!

Before you head into the park, check with a park ranger or online for trail conditions. The Fairy Falls Trail is closed in the springtime for bear management.

Avalanche Peak

Distance: 2.1 miles (4.3 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation gain: 2,100 feet

Extraordinary views of Yellowstone Lake, remote wilderness, and towering alpine peaks wait at the summit of Avalanche Peak.

At 10,574 ft high, Avalanche Peak is a challenging Yellowstone hike fit for experienced hikers with tolerance to steep terrain and high elevation.

One of Yellowstone National Park’s more physically demanding day hikes is also one of the most rewarding.

Roundtrip, this tough Yellowstone hike is about 4.3 miles. In the first 2.1 miles heading to the summit, the elevation gain is a whopping 2,100 ft!

The switchbacking trail that leads to the summit offers stunning views the entire way.

This trail is not recommended during September or October as grizzly bear activity heightens in the months leading up to their winter hibernation. Always hike in groups, make noise, carry bear spray, and be bear aware whenever hiking in bear country.

Winter is also not recommended due to high levels of snowfall.

Uncle Tom’s Trail

Note: Temporarily closed: check here for updates or check AllTrails trip reports for up-to-date information.

Distance: 0.6 miles (1.2 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 30 minutes – 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy in length, but lots of stairs, so more like moderate for those with bad knees/mobility limitations
Elevation gain: 350 feet

The view from the observation deck at the base of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone is a must-see for anyone visiting Yellowstone National Park.

Located in the Canyon Area at the South Rim, this heavily trafficked trail takes hikers from the top of the canyon down 328 steps to the base of the Lower Falls, which is a towering 308 ft high!

The hike down into the canyon is no problem with the well-crafted staircase, but keep in mind you’ll have to climb back out. There are many comfortable places to rest on the return hike, and it’s not a race to the finish.

The original trail, constructed by Uncle Tom Richardson in the 1800s, was not as you see it today. Before the well-constructed series of staircases and switchbacks, the trail was made primarily of rope ladders, which brought hikers down to the base of the falls.

Tower Fall Overlook

Note: At time of writing, this beloved Yellowstone hike is closed. Check AllTrails data for recent updates to see if it’s opened back up!

Distance: 0.9 miles (1.8 miles return)
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Elevation gain: 250 feet

Check out the epic 132 ft drop of Tower Creek from the Tower Fall Observation Point! The waterfall is ominously framed by towering pinnacle rock formations, which give the creek its name.

Access to the observation point is very convenient! From the roadside parking area, head towards the trailhead, which is just past the general store.

There’s a popular overlook that’s a short walking distance from the parking area and another that involves covering a little more effort. The second viewpoint includes a 1-mile round trip walk down to the Yellowstone River towards the bottom of the falls.

Unfortunately, the trail ends short of the waterfall’s base due to a mudslide in 2004, but the riverside walk is enjoyable and scenic.

Reward your little hike with a treat from the general store!

Mammoth Hot Springs Trail

Distance: 3.5 miles
Trail type: Loop
Estimated time to complete: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 560 feet

If you were hoping to see elk and hot springs, Mammoth is the place to be! Located nearby the North Entrance and Roosevelt Arch, Mammoth Hot Springs is a great place to get an up-close look at hot springs and even spot some wildlife!

Walk along the series of boardwalks through the variety of hydrothermal features.

Choose to stay on the Mammoth Terraces Trail to explore the Upper and Lower Terraces, which are filled with steamy multi-colored hot pots, or use this trail to access a web of remote backcountry hiking trails.

In total, there are about 1.3 miles of boardwalk available to explore around the Mammoth Hot Springs, plus the traditional trails.

There is parking at the Upper Terrace area, however, the parking area at the Lower Terrace is larger making finding a space much easier!

Mount Washburn

Note: This route may be closed — check AllTrails in advance to see if it’s changed

Distance: 3.1 miles one way (6.2 miles return) if coming from Dunraven Pass trailhead
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-6 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 1,400 ft

If you’re looking to bag a peak in Yellowstone National Park, Mount Washburn is one of the most popular summits and day hiking destinations!

The summit has panoramic views of Yellowstone’s pristine landscape, but that’s not all. The peak also has an active fire lookout, which includes interesting interpretive exhibits.

There are two trails to the summit of Mount Washburn. The first option begins out of the Dunraven Pass Trailhead and is 6.8 miles roundtrip. The second option begins at the Chittenden Road Trailhead and is the shorter route option at 5.8 miles roundtrip.

Both trails offer beautiful scenery and access to the 10,243 ft summit of Mount Washburn. Whichever trail you choose to pursue, be sure to pack all the Yellowstone day hiking essentials including food, water, layers, a trail map, and bear spray.

Keep your eyes peeled as you hike, trail users often report seeing bighorn sheep close to the summit!

Lamar River Trail (Cache Creek Trail)

Distance: 3.5 miles each way, 7 miles return
Trail type: Out-and-back
Estimated time to complete: 3-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 700 ft

The Lamar Valley is famous for its wildlife sightings and pristine prairie landscape.

While driving through the valley, it’s not uncommon to spot giant herds of bison, wolves patrolling in the hills, or a grizzly bear lumbering around the willows near the river. When visiting Yellowstone National Park, make a visit to the Lamar Valley a high-priority!

Although a drive-by view of the Lamar Valley is nice, an in-depth excursion on foot is even better!

Take one of the best hikes in Yellowstone on the Lamar River Trail/ Cache Creek Trail to explore the area’s rolling landscape, wildflowers, and wildlife. Hikers commonly see herds of bison along the way. Don’t forget to monitor the trail ahead to see who’s footprints have been left in the mud!

Begin your hike into the Lamar Valley at the Lamar River Valley Trailhead and follow the trail toward Cache Creek. The roundtrip distance is around 7 miles with about 700 ft in elevation gain.

Pro tip: Stop often and scan the hillsides using a spotting scope or binoculars to find wildlife. It can be difficult to spot wolves and bear from a distance without one of these tools since they blend so well with the landscape!

West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail

Distance: 1 mile
Trail type: Loop
Estimated time to complete: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 60 ft

Located on the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake, the West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail is a great spot to stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic lunch.

The boardwalk trail here is a 1-mile loop that sees lots of use in the summertime. With the astonishing views, there’s no wonder why!

The West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail takes hikers along the shores of Yellowstone Lake for a closer look at the fascinating hydrothermal features. Stroll the boardwalk and take in the alpine views from this magnificent trail.

Old Faithful Geyser Loop Trail

Distance: 0.7 miles
Trail type: Loop
Estimated time to complete: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 15 ft

Watching the timely eruption of Old Faithful is often high on Yellowstone National Park visitor’s bucket list. Many arrive at Old Faithful without realizing how much hiking there is to do in the area!

The Old Faithful Geyser Loop Trail is the perfect short Yellowstone hike to do if you have a little time to spare before the big event! At only 0.7 miles roundtrip, this trail is a nice boardwalk stroll for any experience level.

Pass by the colorful pools and bubbling pots as you make your way around the loop. Watch the time! You’ll want to be back to the Old Faithful Viewing Area with time to grab a seat for the eruption.

Old Faithful Pro Tip: If you’re not interested in watching Old Faithful from the bleachers near the visitor center with everyone else, make your way over to Observation Point in time for the event.

To get to Observation Point, find the trailhead at the end of the boardwalk near the Old Faithful Lodge and Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria. Follow the trail about 0.75 miles to an obvious lookout area.

Remember to be mindful of the natural landscape when choosing a viewing spot. Stay on the maintained trail and avoid stepping on the fragile alpine vegetation.

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I hope these tips helped you plan some fantastic Yellowstone hikes for your upcoming trip!

Pin These Best Hikes in Yellowstone!