Free National Parks Week Earth Day Snowshoe Tours


Photo: Trover. Snowshoe out Glacier Point Road, 10 miles from Badger Pass, for a view of Half Dome in Yosemite. 

*This post was originally published on 4/20/2017 and was updated on 4/16/2018.

Snowshoeing gives you a totally different perspective of our National Parks when less crowded trails serve as tranquil getaways. To celebrate Earth Day, take advantage of free admission on April 21, during National Parks Week, April 21-29, 2018.  Snowshoes are your ticket for wilderness-friendly recreation to one of these 13 parks listed by The Wilderness Society as some of the most beautiful to hike in the snow. Take it a step (pun intended) further and volunteer that day!

1. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier National Park has all the snow you could ask for in a winter landscape. The area known as Paradise receives an average of 54 feet of snow every year and held the world record for annual snowfall at 93.5 feet in the 1970s. In winter, Mount Rainier also has all the recreation you could ask for: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, climbing and camping.

Photo: Descending to Ingraham Flats camp from Mt. Rainier summit. credit: flickr, Palojono.

2. Yosemite National Park, California

Classic places like Yosemite National Park never fail to amaze, especially this year as snow blankets areas affected by last year’s wildfire. Snowy peaks, foggy slopes, icy waterfalls and frozen streams beacon to visitors who will find beauty as well as fun. Check the website before you come, as some roads may still be closed, but those that access Wawona and Yosemite Valley are cleared. The Glacier Point/Badger Pass Road is also plowed so you can reach the popular Badger Pass ski area. Trails are open for snowshoers, and the Merced River has year-round fishing.

Photo: flickr, puliarf

3. Denali National Park, Alaska

One would expect snow to be status quo at the northern latitudes where Denali‘s mountains rise from the earth. Snow may begin in August, with winter setting in by October. Now that it’s spring, Denali receives more than twelve hours of daylight giving you some notable advantages to visiting this beautiful remote landscape. The visitor center remains open daily for tips on the best snowshoe tours and trails.

Photo: flickr, Denali NPS (Jacob W. Frank)

4. Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming

Yellowstone’s iconic landscapes are inhabited by a plethora of wildlife such as bison, elk, moose and wolves. Its geysers appear even more dramatic in the cool air. Yellowstone National Park remains popular for visitors year-round and has numerous recreation offerings in snow including tours by snow-coach, skis and snowshoes.

photo credit: flickr, exquisitur

5. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

With the highest elevations in the country, Colorado is well-known for being a winter destination, and Rocky Mountain National Park is no exception. With numerous peaks to explore, backcountry snowshoers, can travel through the incomparable continental divide.

Photo: flickr, Bryce Bradford

6. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Winter stretches itself from October through June at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Clear lakes become icy, volcanoes become topped with heavy snow and steam vents become especially smoky. For those seeking fun as well as beauty, snowshoeing trails for beginners and experts offer views that can’t be beat.

Photo: National Park Service

7. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

If you visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, be aware that the main roads should remain clear, but secondary ones may be closed. It’s spring, so bears will coming out of hibernation, but you are likely to catch a glimpse of other wildlife on the Appalachian Trail as well.

Photo: flickr, ErnestDuffoo

8. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Snow covers Grand Teton National Park’s classically beautiful landscape from November to May. Most visitors travel by ski or snowshoe because roads aren’t as accessible. Planning ahead is crucial if you do vacation here in winter or spring.

Photo: flickr, jeffgunn

9. Glacier National Park, Montana

With a name like Glacier National Park, you would expect to see some icy wonders here. This national park gets its name the massive glaciers which shaped the land here ten thousand years ago. This distinct place allows scientists to studying those ancient processes as well as the impacts melting glaciers will have on our national parks. Weather can be very unpredictable, so visitors must come prepared for potential dangers when snowshoeing in.

Photo: flickr, Glacier NPS (David Restivo)

10. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

High elevations and proximity to the Pacific Ocean create conditions for Crater Lake National Park  to receive over 44 feet of snow every year on average.   If you desire to discover this snowy wilderness, it’s best not to drive, but it is a wonderful place for skiing and snowshoeing. Ranger-led interpretive hikes are offered every weekend.

Photo: flickr, dlebech

11. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park’s diverse elevations means it can receive rain, snow and ice in one day.  If you want to go for a snowshoe hike, hop onto the legendary Appalachian Trail for spacious skies and wide-open mountain vistas.

Photo: National Park Service

12. Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park has many diverse landscapes, all of which come alive in the wet season of winter. Drippy rain forests burst with rich greens, ocean beaches are dramatically plummeted by stormy waves and grandiose mountains tower with snowy peaks. Avalanches make visiting its snowy peaks fairly risky, although lower elevations remain relatively mild if you care to witness the splendor in person.

Photo: flickr, PJ Peterson

13. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

Skies are normally clear in this rugged wild place, offering dancing auroras at night. The photograph below may be your best bet for capturing the beauty of this park, however. The spring season is brings light to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and more opportunities to hike and snowshoe as trails open.

Photo: National Park Service