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Visiting National Parks in January is one of our favorite things to do.

Yes, for many of the parks it might require a little more prep work and warmer clothes, but to escape the crowds means we get to enjoy an unforgettable experience.

There are so many fun things to do at US National Parks in the winter like skiing, snowshoeing and sledding. There are many parks where you escape the cold and snow and enjoy fun outdoor activities like hiking and biking.

→ CHECK OUT more winter vacation ideas in the US!

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Visiting National Parks in January

While visiting US National Parks in January, you can experience the beauty without the crowds of summer.

Visiting National Parks in January is one of our favorite things to do because it almost feels like we have the entire park to ourselves. 

CHECK OUT this US National Parks List by State

What to Wear at a National Park in January

When visiting US National Parks in January, temperatures will be colder than visiting in the summer.

And for MOST of the parks you’ll visit in January, you’ll want to refer to this winter gear packing list

During the winter months, especially January, you need to expect the unexpected.

Layering clothing, jackets and coats is important this time of year.

WHAT TO PACK FOR A NATIONAL PARK TRIP IN THE WINTER

→ Winter Clothing Guide

→ Winter Packing List for US National Parks

1. US National Parks Pass

You can order passes online or get them at any of these Federal Recreation Areas. BUY THE PASS AT REI and they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.

2.  Hiking Gear

3. Clothing – Layers

4. Daypack

5. Other

Bucket List for Visiting US National Parks in January 

Arches National Park in January – Utah

Arches National park in the winter is a must, especially in January. While visiting Arches in January you will feel like you have the park to yourself. In fact, oftentimes there is no one else but us in the parking when we visit! 

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park

A trip to Arches in January allows us to take in all the breathtaking views of the arches without feeling rushed by others wanting to observe them as well. 

This really gives you time to take some incredible Arches National Park Photographs so you have memories to hold onto forever. 

Winters at Arches are cold, with highs averaging 30 to 50 degrees, and lows averaging 0 to 20 degrees. It’s not common for large amounts of snow to fall at Arches, but even small amounts can make trails and roads impassable. Always check the NPS website for the most current conditions.

January is the coldest month of the year so when hiking the Arches trails there may be some ice on the trails where traction devices are needed. 

Pack winter clothing and wear layers when visiting Arches in January.

Where to Stay Near Arches:

There are no hotels in Arches so most people stay in the nearby town of Moab. You’ll find restaurants and places to shop which adds to the appeal to find accommodations in Moab.

There are all types of lodging in and near Moab from budget-friendly hotels to higher-prices resorts. You’ll also find vacation rentals, a hostel, campgrounds and RV parks

READ OUR FULL GUIDE: Places to stay near Arches National Park in Moab

• Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Arches.

• Purple Sage – our all-time favorite place to stay in Moab – walking distance to shopping, full kitchen, and only 8 units so you don’t feel lost in a large hotel.  → Book the Purple Sage via Airbnb

• Red Cliffs Lodge – rooms up to 6 people – located 17 miles from Moab, this lodge is known for its beautiful location, winery and activities like horseback riding, fishing and more!

• Condos south of town – we really like the King size bed in the master, washer and dryer in the unit and a swimming pool/hot tub (just a 5 minute drive south of Moab).

Bryce Canyon National Park in January – Utah

Another one of our favorite US National Parks to visit in January is Bryce Canyon.

Bryce Canyon in the winter is known for its incredible scenery as well as the perfect nights for sky gazing at the park. 

We love taking pictures of the amazing landscape you’ll see. Take a look at our Bryce Canyon photo spots guide. Some of the viewpoints won’t be open in January, but the amphitheater provides stunning opportunities for Bryce Canyon photography.

The weather at Bryce Canyon in January can fluctuate from nice sunny days to snowy storms rolling through. The average highs are the upper 30s with the lows in the teens.

While visiting in January, you can have fun hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and backpacking. There are cool ranger programs like snowshoe hikes, full moon hikes and stargazing. 

Insulated boots are a must as well as traction devices for hiking trails during the winter months. Pack winter clothing and wear layers when visiting Bryce Canyon in January.

Where to Stay near Bryce Canyon:

• Ruby’s Inn Vacation Rentals – we LOVE having a kitchen to cook our meals!

• Best Western Ruby’s Inn – easy access right outside the park

• Best Western Plus – also right outside the park

Canyonlands National Park in January – Utah

We love visiting Canyonlands in January, although services are reduced and we have to be more self-reliant.

During January you will find various closures of visitor centers, so you will want to check closures prior to your trip and plan accordingly. 

And weather may close Canyonland Island in the Sky due to its high elevation so again, check the NPS website for current conditions.

The trails at Canyonlands Island in the Sky and Canyonlands Needles may be covered with ice and snow, so you will want to be more aware and careful, but the views you will see are worth the extra precautions. We always recommend using crampons or another type of traction aid while hiking in the winter.

 Be prepared with the right winter clothing and wear layers when visiting Canyonlands in January.

Everglades National Park in January – Florida

If you are looking for warmer weather to escape the winter cold and snow, then consider a trip to Everglades National Park in January.

During the ‘dry season’ the temperatures average in the 70s, the humidity is low and there aren’t as many mosquitos, which makes it the most ideal time of year to go… and the busiest. 

At the Everglades in January there are a variety of ranger-led programs and guided tours.

Since water levels drop during the dry season, you’ll see large numbers of animals gather around the remaining water holes. Seeing wildlife in January is pretty much guaranteed.

Bird watching at the Everglades is exceptional due to many species spending the winter in the relative warmth of the South Florida.

Glacier National Park in January – Montana

Glacier National Park in January expect to see a snowy paradise.

There are only a few paved roads throughout the park open in January. You will want to check road conditions prior to going. The Park Headquarters and Apgar Visitor Center remain open throughout the month. 

Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are the main activities to do at Glacier National Park in January. On the weekends, you will find ranger-led snowshoeing adventures. These tours take about 2 hours and really help you explore the park this time of year. 

You will also see white-tailed deer as well as several species of birds at Glacier National Park in the winter.

In January, the weather at Glacier is cold and often stormy. The average highs are 30 degrees, with the lows in the teens.

 Pack winter clothing and wear layers when visiting Glacier in January.

Sing up to take Wow photos with any camera.

Lassen Volcanic National Park in January – California

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a cool park to visit in January. You are almost guaranteed snow covering the volcanos which is a pretty view to see and photograph. 

Winter activities at Lassen Volcanic National Park include sledding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing/snowboarding and more!

Winter services are available in the Southwest Area of the park. If you’re a first-time visitor, you can enjoy the sights and sounds of winter from the year-round visitor center.

Be prepared for winter driving by carrying tire chains and keeping a full tank of gas (the nearest station is 30 miles away).  And pack the right winter clothing and wear layers when visiting Lassen Volcanic in January.

The weather at Lassen Volcanic park varies based on the storms that roll through. Between storms, you’ll enjoy sunny days with highs near 50. Temperatures in the teens are common during storms and at night.

Yellowstone National Park in January – Montana

If you want a unique experience, we suggest spending some time at Yellowstone in the Winter

It’s an awesome time to enjoy the park with fewer crowds, see steaming geyser basins, and watch wildlife.

Skis, snowshoes, snowcoaches, and snowmobiles are the only way to get around on all the roads in Yellowstone in the winter (except the road from Mammoth to the northeast entrance through Lamar Valley).

The only way to visit Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and other parts of the park during winter is by guided snowmobile or snowcoach

There is nothing like the quiet and serenity of Yellowstone National Park in the winter. It’s a stark contrast to visiting the park during the other seasons. 

We had a rewarding day of seeing and photographing a winter wonderland of steaming geysers, snowy landscapes, rushing waterfalls and beautiful wildlife!

Use our Yellowstone winter packing list to be prepared with winter clothing that’s best for outdoor travel. Plan a trip to Yellowstone in the winter. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure! 

Places to stay in West Yellowstone that we recommend:

Holiday Inn, West Yellowstone

ClubHouse Inn, West Yellowstone

Kelly Inn, West Yellowstone

→ CHECK OUT more West Yellowstone hotels!

Places to stay in Gardiner that we recommend:

Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner – full kitchen and comfy bed, one of our favorite places to stay!

Park Hotel Yellowstone, Gardiner – charming place to stay and loved by guests!

Absaroka Lodge, Gardiner – beautiful location with river views!

→ CHECK OUT more Gardiner hotels!

Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate that we recommend:

Sunny Log Home on the Creek, Silver Gate (VRBO) – the most AMAZING location with an awesome fireplace and comfy bed!

Mountain View Cabin, Cooke City – great views and we enjoyed having a washer and dryer!

High Country Motel and Cabins – local owners who love what they do, and make you feel so welcome!

55 page Yellowstone Vacation Planner & 4 Day Itinerary

Zion National Park in January – Utah

Planning to visit Zion National Park in January will make for an incredible experience. You will certainly not see a lot of people exploring with you which makes it even easier to get those photography shots you are hoping for.

While there, be sure to plan your day to see the sunrise or sunset at Canyon Overlook Trail, a truly unforgettable view. Hiking in Zion in January means you escape the heat and crowds of Zion in the summer!

Zion weather in the winter is cold and often wet. Temperatures can range from highs of 50-60°F during the day to lows well below freezing at night. Nearly half of the annual precipitation in Zion Canyon falls between the months of December and March.

Roads are plowed, but certain trails may be closed due to the hazard of falling ice. After winter storms, snow typically disappears within a matter of hours at lower elevations.

Throughout January most of the trails in Zion stay open so you can explore. You might even be able to try your hand at snowshoeing if it snows while visiting.

Since you can drive through Zion Canyon in your car in January, and not the shuttle, it makes it perfect to visit even on those chilly days.   

 Pack winter clothing and wear layers when visiting Zion in January.

Where to Stay Near Zion

You definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to Zion. Here are a few of our favorite places to stay close to Zion:

Holiday Inn Express – our favorite place to stay with an outdoor pool and amenities you’d find in a high end hotel

Zion Lodge – we haven’t had a chance to stay here yet, but you can’t go wrong staying right IN the park!

Under Canvas Zion – if you want to experience a less crowded part of Zion, this is the place! It’s in the Kolob section of the park.

Airbnb Rentals in Springdale – you’ll want to stay in Springdale so you’re close to the park entrance and can walk to shopping and restaurants. 

Winter Vacation Ideas

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