Visiting National Parks in January

Planning a trip to US National Parks in the winter is a great time to enjoy winter activities like skiing, snowshoeing and sledding in the Northern states. You can escape the cold and snow and enjoy fun outdoor activities like hiking and biking in the Southern states.

Visiting National Parks in January is one of our favorite times of year to plan a vacation to avoid crowds you find in the busy spring, summer, and fall seasons!

National Park Vacation Ideas in January

If you’re looking for US National Park vacation ideas in January, you’ll find cold temperatures at many of the northern National Parks, but with the right prep work and gear, it will be a truly amazing experience that you will never forget.

We have been visiting US National Parks for over 15 years and love the off-season winter time at the most popular and busy parks. When looking at a list of the best month to visit National Parks, don’t discount January!

Our number one tip is to be prepared for the weather and temperatures for the park you’ll visit. Use our US National Park Packing List  to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in January! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

National Parks packing list for spring summer fall and winter
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Winter Packing List for National Parks

winter hiking gear

Visiting National Parks in January

Visiting the US National Parks is an immersive way to truly appreciate the natural wonders that this country has to offer. Each park, with its unique landscape and biodiversity, provides an unforgettable adventure.

We’ve put together some resources to help you plan your next US National Park vacation!

If you’ll be visiting US National Parks with Kids, here are some activities to get the family excited before, during and after the trip:

Take a look at this list of National Parks in the US and what it’s like to visit some of our favorites in January!

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park
Balanced Rock at Arches National Park

Arches National Park in January – Utah

While visiting Arches National Park 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! 

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 photography so you have memories to hold onto forever. 

If you’re lucky and it snows while you’re there, you can capture some breathtaking Arches National Park winter photos to showcase the contrast of red rock and white snow!

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 at Arches. When exploring the Arches National Park winter hikes there may be some ice on the trails where traction devices are needed. 

Arches Winter Lodging & Tours

Bryce Canyon in the winter with snow
Bryce Canyon in the winter with snow

Bryce Canyon National Park in January – Utah

Another one of our favorite US National Parks to visit in the winter is Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon National Park in January 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. Some of the Bryce Canyon views and photo spots won’t be open in January, but the amphitheater provides stunning opportunities for Bryce Canyon photography.

You can’t beat the Bryce Canyon winter photos you’ll get in January!!

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 enjoy Bryce Canyon winter activities like 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 when exploring the Bryce Canyon winter hikes!

Bryce Canyon Winter Lodging & Tours

Canyonlands in the winter
Canyonlands in the winter

Canyonlands National Park in January – Utah

We love visiting Canyonlands National Park 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 Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky due to its high elevation so again, check the NPS website for current conditions.

The Canyonlands National Park winter hikes 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.

Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park

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.

Everglades National Park Travel Tips

Glacier National Park in the winter
Glacier National Park in the winter

Glacier National Park in January – Montana

Expect to see a snowy paradise at Glacier National Park in the winter. 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.

Glacier National Park Lodging & Tours

Lassen Volcanic National Park in the winter
Lassen Volcanic National Park in the winter

Lassen Volcanic National Park in January – California

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a fun California National Park to visit in the winter. 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 at Lassen 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.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Lodging

Steaming hot pool at Yellowstone in the winter
Steaming hot pool at Yellowstone in the winter

Yellowstone National Park in January – Montana

If you want a unique experience, we suggest spending some time at Yellowstone in the winter. A trip to Yellowstone in January is a terrific 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 Yellowstone 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! 

Zion Scenic Drive in the winter
Zion Scenic Drive in the winter

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. Winter hiking in Zion National Park is more enjoyable in January because 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.

You’ll capture amazing Zion National Park winter photos if there’s snow when you visit!

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.

You can drive your own car through Zion Canyon most of January. The Zion National Park Shuttle will run on New Year’s Day and over the MLK holiday weekend.

Zion Winter Lodging & Tours


national park guides and maps

National Parks by State List

There is no better vacation than exploring National Parks in the USA. To make it easy, we’ve created this list of National Parks by state. Get the free printable of the list by clicking the graphic below!

get the free national parks by state list

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