If you are seeking the best national parks to visit in February, this is your guide! This guide uncovers fifteen of the best US national parks to visit in February, why you should visit them, and what to expect during the winter season.
While most US National Parks flourish during the summer and should months, some of the parks are best visited in the winter. And even if that isn’t peak season, there is still so much to offer in winter that it is worthy of your visit.
You will find parks on this guide scattered throughout the entire United States, from Hawaii to Maine and beyond!
Here is our curated list of the best national parks to visit in February:
US National Parks in February Worth Visiting
Denali National Park and Preserve
February average temperature: highs around 18F and lows around -9F
Go there for: skiing, snowshoeing, winter biking, Winterfest Celebration
Yes, you can visit Denali National Park in winter! If you are thoroughly prepared for the very cold temperatures, going to Denali in February can be a very exciting adventure.
Hiking trails turn into skiing trails, and you can go winter biking on the Bike Trail. Snowshoeing is a peaceful way to explore what Denali has to offer in the winter.
Other activities options include snowmobiling and camping. While most of the park road is closed in the winter, starting in February you will be able to drive 13 miles or more into the park. There is also an indoor picnic center where you can eat your lunch and warm-up.
READ ALSO: Best US national parks to visit in December
Every February, the park hosts a Winterfest Celebration, which is a winter festival that celebrates Alaska’s longest season.
Another winter phenomenon you might be able to see while visiting is the Aurora Borealis. Because of the low light pollution, Denali is a great place for stargazing, even if you aren’t able to catch the aurora. This is easily one of the most underappreciated national parks in the US!
Arches National Park
February average temperature: highs around 49F and lows around 25F
Go there for: hiking, photography, camping, stargazing
Arches National Park is a very popular park and very crowded in the summer. Though chilly, going in February has advantages, as there are far fewer people. But, Arches National Park in winter is still so worth it regardless of unpredictable temperatures.
You can get a different perspective of the park as you hike along peaceful, snowy trails gazing at the breathtaking winter scenes.
The white snow against the red rocks and blue skies make for amazing photography opportunities. It also gives you ample opportunity to cozy up in one of the cool Moab Airbnbs located nearby.
Camping at Devils Garden is available year-round and is on a first-come, first-served basis in the winter. Hiking is a popular activity in the winter and is a great way to explore the interesting arches and rock formations in the park.
Stargazing is also a popular activity, as clear skies can show about 2,500 visible stars. There are many tours leaving from Moab that will take you to see the skies!
In 2019, Arches was certified as an International Dark Sky Park, so when there is no cloud cover you are sure to have an amazing view of the skies.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Location: Big Island, Hawaii
February average temperature: highs around 68F and lows around 49F in the park
Go there for: volcanic landscapes, hiking, camping, Chain of Craters driving tour from Kilauea to the sea
This Hawaii national park includes two of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea and Mauna Loa, as well as an incredible range of some of the most unique geological, cultural, and biological landscapes.
There is a huge range of activities you can do in the park, like hiking, camping, driving, and picnicking. If you want to wake up to amazing caldera views, you can stay at the Volcano House Hotel, located on the edge of the Kilauea caldera.
While at the park, you may be able to see molten lava, although this is not always possible. In 2018, there was a huge eruption that changed the landscape of the park forever.
It closed down many areas and since then the park has been in recovery mode but has been able to reopen many things. Make sure to check what things are and aren’t open as you plan your visit.
Mount Rainier National Park and Preserve
February average temperature: highs around 24F and lows around 12F
Go there for: snowshoeing, skiing, camping, sledding
At 14,410 feet high, Mt. Rainier is a beautiful and recognizable symbol of Washington State. It is an active volcano and the most glaciated peak in the contiguous US.
The park is covered in forests and meadows and has five major rivers coming from the mountain. In February, Mount Rainier National Park turns into an exciting snowy playground.
There are many things to do in Mt. Rainier National Park in winter, such as snowshoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, sledding, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and snow camping.
If you’re interested in learning about how animals, plants, and people adapt and live in the winter conditions at Mt. Rainier, consider going on a ranger-led snowshoe walk.
Make sure to check out the Jackson Visitor Center for more information about the park and things to do. Click here if you’re looking for some of the best cabins near Mt. Rainier National Park.
Mesa Verde National Park
February average temperature: highs around 41F and lows around 20F
Go there for: exploring the cliff dwellings, hiking, photography, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing
Established in 1906, this amazing park preserves the archeological heritage of the Pueblo people who lived here from 600 to 1300 CE. There are over 600 cliff dwellings within the 5,000 preserved archeological sites.
There are many options for different hiking trails as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing once there is sufficient snow. Make sure to stop at the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center first to get up-to-date information about where you are going in the park.
While the cliff-dwelling tours are closed in February at Mesa Verde, you can still see the structures from different trails and overlooks as you take hikes through the quiet winter landscape.
READ ALSO: Best US national parks to visit in January
If you prefer something less cold, there are several drives you can take in your car to see more of the park, like the Mesa Top Loop Road or the Cliff Palace/Balcony House Loop Road.
Acadia National Park
February average temperature: highs around 32F and lows around 14F
Go there for: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, scenic drives
Acadia National Park stretches along the rocky headlands of the Atlantic coastline.
Even though it’s one of the top-visited US national parks, you can see Acadia’s snowy, lesser-seen beauties if you visit in February when there are fewer crowds and different landscapes.
Two sections of the Park Loop Road, Ocean Drive and Jordan Pond Road, are open in Acadia in winter if you want to see beautiful scenery from the comfort of a warm car.
If you fancy some outdoor activities, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are very popular along the 45 miles of carriage roads.
If you want to hike, it is recommended you explore the carriage roads, Ship Harbor, or Ocean Path as the other hiking trails in Acadia become dangerously icy in winter.
Snowmobiling and ice fishing are also popular winter activities that can be done in the park. You can also rent an Airbnb in Acadia National Park and go ice fishing right out your doorstep!
This is easily one of the most beautiful places in Maine that you should put on your Maine bucket list!
White Sands National Park
Location: New Mexico
February average temperature: highs around 63F and lows around 26F
Go there for: sand dune sledding, photography, picnics, hiking
White Sands National Park is a natural wonder of 275 square miles of white gypsum sand dunes. February is a wonderful time to visit this park as temperatures are pleasantly cool and crowds are far less than in the summer.
Check out the visitor center first to learn more about the history and environment of this fascinating area. This park is a fantastic place for photography with its unique landscape. it is also one of the best places to add to a National Parks road trip itinerary!
Other popular activities include picnicking, hiking over the dunes, and driving the 8-mile scenic drive Dunes Drive. Along the way, you will find hiking trails, exhibits, and picnic areas.
READ ALSO: Best US national parks to visit in March
Make sure you do perhaps the most exciting activity at the dunes: sledding! It is worth the day trip from Ruidoso just for that!
You can spend an exhilarating afternoon flying down the face of the dunes on a little sled. Plastic sleds are available at the visitor center and don’t forget to grab extra wax to take with you!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Location: North Carolina, Tennessee
February average temperature: highs around 40F and lows around 23F (can be different depending on elevation)
Go there for: hiking, wildlife viewing, camping
At over 500,000 acres and as the most-visited national park in the US, the beautiful forested Great Smoky Mountains National Park is packed with things to do. February activities include hiking, camping, drives, and wildlife viewing.
There are many beautiful hikes in Great Smoky Mountains NP to choose from depending on length, difficulty, and what you want to see. There are waterfalls, forested areas, and ridges with amazing views.
In the winter, since the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, it is easier to see through the forest to things usually covered, such as old building foundations, walls, and different species of wildlife.
There are also many roads you can choose to drive along if you prefer to stay in the car. You can get a booklet as a tour guide which gives information about the history, wildlife, and plants that you are passing on the road. Make sure to check on road closures before you go as not all roads are open in February.
Great Smoky Mountains is one of the best national parks to visit in February and pretty much any time of the year!
Grand Canyon National Park
February average temperature: highs around 65F and lows around 42F
Go there for: hiking, photography, biking, camping
February is a great time to visit the Grand Canyon as there are few crowds, less wait time for shuttles, and peaceful hiking trails.
In February, only the Southern Rim is open to activities like going to the visitor center, hiking, camping, and backpacking, as the Northern Rim closes for the winter season.
The weather at the Grand Canyon in February can be variable, with winter storms and snow at the higher elevations possible, but in general, February temperatures are great for hiking down into the canyon!
The South Kaibab Trail and Bright Angel Trail are the best for hiking as they are generally not too steep or icy.
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Photographing in February is also nice as it is less crowded. A dusting of snow around the rim can make for beautiful photographs. A great time to photograph is at the golden hour, which is right after sunrise and right before sunset, when the sun casts a warm glow and soft light.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
February average temperature: highs around 37F and lows around 24F
Go there for: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, hiking, train ride
Although Cuyahoga is close to the urban environments of Cleveland and Akron, the park itself is a wilderness sanctuary of hills, forests, and open meadows. There are plenty of things to do year-round, including hiking and fishing.
There are over 125 miles of hiking trails at Cuyahoga Valley National Park open all year. Ledges Trail is an especially scenic trail in the winter due to the dramatic icicle formations on the rocks along the trail.
In the winter, you can add outdoor snow sports such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, sledding, downhill skiing, and snow tubing.
A unique feature of this national park is the National Park Scenic excursion on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad! This train ride is a 2.5 hour round trip through the national park that gives exceptional views of the park from an interesting perspective.
Big Bend National Park
February average temperature: highs around 64F and lows around 43F
Go there for: hiking, stargazing, camping
The landscape is a combination of beautiful deserts, canyons, waterfalls, mountains, and the Rio Grande river. The main attractions of Big Bend are the great hiking and backpacking trails.
There is much to discover about the diverse geology, cultural history, flora, and fauna of the park and by hiking, you can get an up-close look at the diversity.
There are different pictographs and archeological sites you can visit to learn more about the native people who lived here for thousands of years. Winters are relatively mild and make for great weather for hiking in Big Bend in winter.
Another great feature of Big Bend is the stargazing, as it actually has the darkest skies in the contiguous United States.
As an International Dark Sky Park, the stargazing here can’t be beaten; on clear nights you can see thousands of stars, the Milky Way, and different planets.
Crater Lake National Park
February average temperature: highs around 38F and lows around 22F
Go there for: hiking, photography, skiing, snowshoeing
Crater Lake is one of the snowiest inhabited places in the US, making it a winter playground. Although the snow closes roads such as Rim Drive, don’t let that stop you from going there; it’s open to skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobiles. It is one of the best Portland weekend getaways!
Steel Visitor Center is open year-round; you can learn more about the history of the park and how the crater was formed.
There is plenty to do in Crater Lake in winter. With an average of 43 feet of snow per year, it is a great place for snow sports.
You can sign up for a ranger-led snowshoe walk, or venture out on your own. Sledding, snow tubing, downhill and cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are all popular activities in the park.
The snow also makes for gorgeous landscapes that are great for photographers. Make sure you check the forecast before you head out, as the winter weather can be varied and clear days are not the average winter experience.
If you’re looking for a great place to stay while visiting the national park – be sure to check out our guide to the best Klamath Falls Airbnbs near Crater Lake.
Joshua Tree National Park
February average temperature: highs around 66F and lows around 38F
Go there for: hiking, stargazing, camping, backpacking, rock climbing, biking, horseback riding
Cool temperatures and pleasant hikes await those who visit Joshua Tree National Park in February. This interesting park is an intersection of two deserts, the Mojave and the Colorado.
With over 300 miles of hiking trails at Joshua Tree, there are plenty of options for you to discover this wilderness full of fascinating history, animals, plants, and geology.
READ MORE: Best national parks to visit in April
There are nine different campgrounds one can choose to stay at if you have several days to devote to exploring the park.
Some popular activities include biking, hiking, participating in a ranger-led program, photography, and rock climbing on some of the over 8,000 established routes.
Another wonderful feature of Joshua Tree is its dark skies, which are perfect for stargazing if you decide on stay for more than one day in Joshua Tree. You can also see the park from a different perspective by horseback riding; there are 253 miles of equestrian trails running through the park.
Biscayne National Park
February average temperature: highs around 79F and lows around 62F
Go there for: swimming, snorkeling, boating, fishing, kayaking
If you prefer warm temperatures and swimming to snowshoeing in the mountains, Biscayne National Park is a great getaway in February.
The park is 95% water, so there are plenty of different water sports options, or if you prefer, just sit back and enjoy the beautiful views, especially from Cape Florida Lighthouse there.
There are several islands within the park that you can access via boat or kayak. Elliott Key, the park’s largest island, offers overnight camping, picnicking, swimming, and hiking.
Fishing from boats or the shore is also a popular activity at Biscayne. Kayaking is a great way to explore both land and water.
To discover the underwater world, grab your snorkel gear and jump in to see the beautiful fish and other sea creatures that live in the colorful coral reefs.
The underwater ecosystem is very fragile, so make sure you visit the Visitor Center first to learn more about both the history and environment of the park and also how you can be responsible and help protect the natural habitat.
Yosemite National Park
February average temperature: highs around 53F and lows around 28F
Go there for: skiing, hiking, skating
Visiting Yosemite in February is like entering a different world of quiet solitude, so contrary to the usually crowded park attractions.
Although the famous waterfalls of Yosemite do not flow at the same rate as in the spring, there is usually some flow in February after snow or rain. There are plenty of options for winter activities to do in Yosemite.
There is an outdoor ice skating rink at Curry Village, where you can skate, enjoy the cozy fire pit, and marvel at the beautiful view of Half Dome.
READ MORE: Best national parks to visit in May
Downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing are available at the Badger Pass Ski Area of Yosemite. While there is not always snow on the valley floor, when there is, snowshoeing is a fun way to explore the park trails.
Many hiking trails in Yosemite are still open for a winter walk, but make sure to check the current conditions and openings before heading out.
February tends to be a slow travel time in the United States, so planning a trip to one of these parks then will offer an exciting start to your year!
What are the best national parks to visit in February, in your opinion? Did we miss any?
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Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now splits her time between Frankfurt, Germany and Arctic Finland after also living in Norway, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. She has a passion for winter travel, as well as the Nordic countries, but you can also find her eating her way through Italy, perusing perfume stores in Paris, or taking road trips through the USA. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She co-authored Fodor’s Travel ‘Essential Norway’ and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.