Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 20

Thread: National Parks in Winter?

  1. #1
    Senior Member roadtripper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Danvers, MA Avatar: The Wave, AZ
    Posts
    1,317

    National Parks in Winter?

    Anyone have any ideas for outstanding national park experiences in winter? Which parks are legendary in winter? Have any of you been to any of our national parks during this season? What did you do while there?

    Some parks that look awesome in winter:
    ~ Crater Lake NP (Snowshoeing or X-C skiing the rim roads looks amazing)
    ~ Yellowstone (Snowmobiling or X-C skiing the main roads)
    ~ Bryce Canyon (the hoodoos look incredible with snow)

    What other parks are awesome to visit in the winter? I'm only interested in those national parks that actually have snow.

    How about....
    Arches?
    Badlands?
    Yosemite?
    Rocky Mtns?
    Sequioa?
    Redwoods?
    etc. etc.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by roadtripper; 01-16-2011 at 01:41 PM.

  2. #2
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    3,671
    I've been to some, but not all of the parks in winter.

    Arches - no experience

    Badlands - road is usually open in winter. Nothing really to do in the park IMHO any time of the year. Personally, if you want to see knarly countryside, drive thru Utah.

    Yosemite - the "westside" is usually open, so you can get into Yosemite Valley for the various falls, but roads are closed at higher elevations.

    Rocky Mtns - been there several times in late October, and they close roads when it snows, and re-open as it melts. Have no personal experience other than that.

    Sequoia - deep snow country - roads close.

    Redwoods - it's a coastal US highway in a rain forest and a major n/s route.

    Of course, nothing prevents you from from snowshoeing/skiing. Do be aware of avalanche zones, however, and if you go in to certain areas within these parks carrry AV beacons and the rescue equipment, along with a bud or two, is probably a good idea.

    I recall reading a few years ago about a lodge in Yosemite, accessible via the eastside (i.e. Lee Vining) where you ski up several miles and they meet you and provide a ski escort to their lodge. Since the park gate is at 10K', and most road closures in the Sierra are around 6K' or below, it's a good hoof to the meeting point, plus whatever lies beyond that. It sounded intriguing for a backcountry winter experience, but haven't looked into it further.

    Edit - also be aware that anywhere you're near snow in CA (perhaps other western states as well) and get caught in a storm, the CHP sets up road blocks and won't allow you past without chains or cables (cables are like chains except the cross-piece is cable) even if the vehicle has snow tires. It's unlikely car rentals will have them, so ... something you might want to consider depending upon where you're going. Usually when a roadblock is set up they'll be roadside vendors, at a price about 50% more than WalMarts.

    Depending upon conditions, CHP may just verify you have them in the trunk, but don't need to be mounted prior to the roadblock. Telling them you've been driving for 40 years in Vermont won't impress them at all... It's either the chains/cables, or turn around.
    Last edited by Kevin Rooney; 01-16-2011 at 02:58 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member SteveHiker's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    New (and improved) Boston, NH
    Posts
    606
    When I was in the Arches I asked a ranger at the visitor center when a better time to be there was since it was so God awful hot there in August. She hesitated then asked where I was from. When I said Vermont, she said that the winter would probably be a good time. They only get a little snow, it's usually no colder than the 30s, everything is open and there's hardly anyone around.

    I imagine something like this with a dusting of snow would look pretty cool.

  4. #4
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Bedford, MA; Avatar: eggs anyone?
    Posts
    10,704
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveHiker View Post
    I imagine something like this with a dusting of snow would look pretty cool.
    Do you mean something like this? (http://www.fulldomephoto.com/dsphoto...Arch_Snow.html)

    And you can find a zillion more from http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&s...ate+arch"+snow...

    Doug

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Marina del Rey, CA
    Posts
    463
    I've been to Yosemite over President's weekend 4 or 5 times. Once staying at the cabins in Curry Village, the other times camping near Badger Pass down Glacier Point Road and then on a couple of those trips, meeting up with friends and staying at a cabin at The Redwoods. One year, there was snow on the Valley floor and it was beautiful.

    Yosemite is great. Wouldn't classify any of my trips as "legendary" but for a beginner snow camper, cannot be beat-Easy access, easy terrain, good for snowshoeing or skiing, mild weather (mostly), safe place to park your car (parking lot at Badger Pass ski field), gear rental if you need it-skis and snowshoes. The food at the ski field restaurant is mediocre, but they do have a bar upstairs.

    You can go all the way to Ostrander Hut, which I've never done or camp a mile or two down the road from the parking lot.







    Best access to the park- 140 from the West (off the 99 at Merced or 41 from the South off of the 99 at Fresno. I come up from LA, through the Wawona gate-$20 gets your car in for a week if you don't have a yearly pass. Parking and backcountry passes are free.

    The Rough Guide to Yosemite is a good little guidebook and the park's website has tons of info as do some of the commercial sites about Yosemite.
    Last edited by TomD; 01-17-2011 at 02:02 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Верхоянский хребет
    Posts
    1,090
    Grand Canyon: snow and full-on winter up top and late summer/fall conditions down below -- the snow looks incredible on the tops of the rock formations

    Zion and Cedar Breaks (neither is very far from Bryce), Utah: snow set against the fine red rock provides some stunning landscapes

  7. #7
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Bedford, MA; Avatar: eggs anyone?
    Posts
    10,704
    Quote Originally Posted by Barkingcat View Post
    Grand Canyon: snow and full-on winter up top and late summer/fall conditions down below -- the snow looks incredible on the tops of the rock formations
    Road to the N rim isn't plowed in winter--it's ~60 miles in. The S rim is open but may be blocked immediately following a storm.

    Zion and Cedar Breaks (neither is very far from Bryce), Utah: snow set against the fine red rock provides some stunning landscapes
    The road to/in Cedar Breaks was still blocked by snow last time I was in the region (May 2001).

  8. #8
    Senior Member gaiagirl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    547
    I went to Yellowstone in March three years ago and it was, in my opinion, the best time to go. Of course, I went specifically to see wolves with a grad class from my alma mater, so that was certainly key. Wolf packs have a field day in the park when the elk, bison, and other ungulates come down into the valleys where the only food is available in Winter. I am still blown away by all that I experienced and hope to get back in Winter within the next few years.
    Chris

    In this crowded world, our sense of coexistence with wilderness life can be enforced by heights that are hard to climb. --- John Hay

  9. #9
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    3,671
    Quote Originally Posted by gaiagirl View Post
    I went to Yellowstone in March three years ago and it was, in my opinion, the best time to go. Of course, I went specifically to see wolves with a grad class from my alma mater, so that was certainly key. Wolf packs have a field day in the park when the elk, bison, and other ungulates come down into the valleys where the only food is available in Winter. I am still blown away by all that I experienced and hope to get back in Winter within the next few years.
    Recently a friend of mine told me the Park Rangers sometimes have to wear gas masks near the entry points in winter due to snowmobile exhaust combined with temperature inversions. His statement startled me, but he's not given to exaggeration. I know the USPS has been trying to eliminate them for several years but the economic pressures by local operators is strong.

    Did you see any rangers needing to wear gas masks/respirators?

  10. #10
    Senior Member gaiagirl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    547
    Kevin,

    We were in the park just after the Winter tours typically end and just before Spring, so as far as I know it was the ideal time to be there. Only the road from the Roosevelt Arch toward West Yellowstone is open, and at that time of year the open road does not extend as far as West Yellowstone, where most snowmobile tours originate. We also had no access to Old Faithful and many of the falls, too, due to park closed areas during the Winter Season. We did, however, snowshoe in the Lamar Valley and near Slough Creek. We saw wolves at almost every stop we made and saw mountain lion tracks near an abandoned wolf kill. I can't say enough about how magical it was, though I do admit, wolf sign and sightings were tops on my list.

    I have heard that while snowmobile tours are going on that the air can be really noxious; I don't doubt that story at all.
    Chris

    In this crowded world, our sense of coexistence with wilderness life can be enforced by heights that are hard to climb. --- John Hay

  11. #11
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    3,671
    Thanks, Chris. I enjoy seeing wolves also, although I've never seen them around a kill, just on the move.

    Was priviledged to spend a couple of months last summer in B.C., and saw them there as well. Am going back again this summer and hope to catch a glimpse of them again, although they're so wild I've usually been lucky to seem them only for a few seconds at a time.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Marina del Rey, CA
    Posts
    463
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    Recently a friend of mine told me the Park Rangers sometimes have to wear gas masks near the entry points in winter due to snowmobile exhaust combined with temperature inversions. His statement startled me, but he's not given to exaggeration. I know the USPS has been trying to eliminate them for several years but the economic pressures by local operators is strong.

    Did you see any rangers needing to wear gas masks/respirators?
    There were some efforts during the Clinton administration to limit the number of snowmobiles. Needless to say, the companies who rent them and the others who support the winter tourists (restaurants, motels, etc.) were against any restrictions. I'm not sure what finally happened. My guess is the restrictions were lifted during the Bush years-Cheney is from Wyoming and we know he hates conservation of any kind. The park would look like Disney World if the GOP gets its way.

    Update-after doing some checking online, here's what I found- the number of snowmobiles allowed was restricted by the Ciinton Administration. The State of Wyoming (not Montana) brought a lawsuit in federal court to overturn the ban and the Wyoming district court ruled for the State. The case was appealed to the 10th Circuit and the lower court ruling was reversed, reinstating the Clinton era numbers. Apparently after some further negotiations, the number is now 318 snowmobiles per day, less than half of the 720 allowed before the restrictions were reinstated by the 10th Circuit.
    Last edited by TomD; 01-18-2011 at 02:47 PM. Reason: Updated information

  13. #13
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Bedford, MA; Avatar: eggs anyone?
    Posts
    10,704
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    Recently a friend of mine told me the Park Rangers sometimes have to wear gas masks near the entry points in winter due to snowmobile exhaust combined with temperature inversions. His statement startled me, but he's not given to exaggeration. I know the USPS has been trying to eliminate them for several years but the economic pressures by local operators is strong.
    I have also heard that Rangers at some of the entrance stations have had problems with snowmobile exhaust.

    Doug

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    620
    Quote Originally Posted by TomD View Post
    There were some efforts during the Clinton administration to limit the number of snowmobiles. Needless to say, the companies who rent them and the others who support the winter tourists (restaurants, motels, etc.) were against any restrictions. I'm not sure what finally happened. My guess is the restrictions were lifted during the Bush years-Cheney is from Wyoming and we know he hates conservation of any kind. The park would look like Disney World if the GOP gets its way.
    Here we go again ...I won't respond to your political rant, because my post would get deleted (yours wasn't, but mine would be). Instead, a few facts for you to consider:
    1. Mr. Cheney is from Wyoming. The two towns that almost exclusively benefit from snowmobiling in YNP are West Yellowstone, Montana and Gardiner, Montana. Wyoming is not Montana, and I have the maps to prove it.
    2. Senator Jon Tester (D) of Montana is a vocal critic of efforts to ban snowmobiles in Yellowstone. Take a guess what the "D" after his name indicates.

    Rather than "guess" (your word, not mine), you should read about the history of the snowmobiling in YNP debate. It's very interesting. You'll see it's not as simple as D versus R.

    Back to the important stuff: Hey roadtripper, the only roads they plow in Yellowstone are from the North entrance to the Northeast entrance. So if you like to set your own schedule and travel without guides, you're limited to the north side of the park. Or you can pull a Tom Murphy and bc ski / backpack the whole park.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Trip pictures

  15. #15
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Bloomville, New York Avatar: Dress for success!
    Posts
    6,628
    Quote Originally Posted by gaiagirl View Post
    I went to Yellowstone in March three years ago and it was, in my opinion, the best time to go. Of course, I went specifically to see wolves with a grad class from my alma mater, so that was certainly key. Wolf packs have a field day in the park when the elk, bison, and other ungulates come down into the valleys where the only food is available in Winter. I am still blown away by all that I experienced and hope to get back in Winter within the next few years.
    Were those the before and after pics?

    Hey, if anyone really wants a "legendary in winter" experience, they should go to Gates of the Arctic National Park! Open year round!
    Tom Rankin
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
    CEO

Similar Threads

  1. National Parks Overview
    By roadtripper in forum General Backcountry
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 12-03-2015, 08:19 PM
  2. reminder for national parks
    By Adk_dib in forum General Backcountry
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-23-2009, 08:11 AM
  3. reminder for national parks
    By Adk_dib in forum Q&A - New York
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-23-2009, 08:11 AM
  4. Utah's National Parks
    By CTHiker in forum Q&A - New England
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 05-14-2004, 04:33 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •