Even though summer reigns supreme for travel, winter brings its own unique experiences for every level of outdoor enthusiast. Check out these destinations for your favorite cold-weather activities:
Clay Pit Ponds State Park, Staten Island, New York
In the southwestern shore of Staten Island lies a hidden gem that’s a favorite for locals. The borough has some of New York City’s largest green space, and this preserve has some of the most diverse ecologies in the city. During winter, this 265-acre park opens its horse trails for people to snowshoe and cross-country ski once there is substantial snowfall.
Clay Pit Ponds is great for bird watching, and visitors might even catch a glimpse of the northern cardinal and the redbelly woodpecker. Led by SCA interns, Clay Pit also has an extensive maple syrup program where you can learn the process of making maple syrup from the tap to the table.
Grand Teton National Park, Moose, Wyoming
One of the most popular national parks in America, Grand Teton National Park, has always been a popular winter destination. Great for families and even solo travelers, the Teton Park Road is open to skiing, snowshoeing and walking during winter from Taggart Lake Trailhead to the Signal Mountain Lodge. Located along the base of the Teton Range it offers stellar views. Visitors can also snowshoe with a ranger and learn about snow science and winter ecology.
Snowshoe and cross-country skiing are permitted from Nov. 1 to April 30. Motorsport enjoyers come from around the world to snowmobile in the Tetons annually. Grand Teton serves as one of the foundational locations for the SCA as it is the host park to one National Park Service Academy member. SCA members serve at this park every year.
Everglades National Park, Florida
Notorious for its swampy weather, crocodiles and alligators, the Everglades also serves up winter fun. Everglades National Park provides drinking water for more than 7 million Floridians. It is also one of the most visited parks in the United States. November to April is considered the dry season, making it the most popular time to visit due to the lower temperatures and vast wildlife sightings.
Winter offerings at the Everglades include the ‘Starlight Walk,’ a night hike taking place from January to March that allows for a more intimate and sensory experience at the Everglades. Due to migration, the dry season animals tend to congregate around the remaining water holes making for spectacular wildlife viewing this time of year. If you’ve ever wanted to see an alligator close-up, this is the perfect time to visit.
Kathio State Park, Lake Mille Lacs, Minnesota
Located an hour and a half north of Minneapolis in the center of Minnesota, Kathio State Park boasts one of the most charmed lakes in America, Lake Mille Lacs. This state park has 30+ miles of trails, camper cabins that are open year-round, and an interpretive and nature center that is great for all ages.
At Kathio State Park you can access Lake Mille Lacs and enjoy cross-country skiing, hit the slopes at its infamous sledding hill, go snowmobiling and give ice fishing a try. There are many accommodations and resources around the park for visitors.