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Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks

01.02.17

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Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks

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  • Loch Vale in Rocky Mountain National Park.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Dropping into the southwest chute.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • View of Mount Rainier (14,411 ft) from Paradise Winter Campsite.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • View of Mount Rainier (14,411 ft) from Nisqually Vista Snowshoe Trail.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Massive up-draft depositing windblown snow on the south face of Mount St. Helens..- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Hikers and skiiers climb up Mount St. Helens Worm Flows.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Views from the Watchman lookout tower in Crater Lake National Park are unbeatable.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Crater Lake's rim juts out of the forest. Mount Scott (8,934 ft) is in the distance.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Steep sidwalls on Lassen Peak's Southesast Chutes give some of the terrain a surfy feel.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Sunkissed turns. Dirty Martini Chute, Lassen Peak.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Ascending the east ridge of Mount Diller, Lassen Volcanic National Park.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Approaching Pear Lake Ski Hut.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Mount Diller's summit ridge with Mount Shasta (14,197 ft) in view. Lassen Volcanic National Park.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Headlamps illuminate multiple routes on Mount Rainier (14,411 ft).- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Spring corn in Edith Basin, Mount Rainier National Park.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Paradise Snowplay Sledding Area in Mount Rainier National Park.- Mouthwatering Winter Adventures in Our National Parks
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Most of the country's national parks receive the vast majority of their traffic in the spring, summer, and fall. For winter adventure lovers looking for snow, this seasonal trend presents phenomenal opportunities to snowshoe and ski in some absolutely stunning terrain without the crowds. There can be trade-offs, to be sure; many campgrounds and lodges close for the season, and road access can be a logistic hurdle if certain arteries through a park are not plowed or maintained. But any extra effort required for a winter trip is easily offset by pristine views of a snowy and undeveloped landscape. Whether your fix is found with a quiet lunch near a glassy alpine lake or some deep turns in untracked backcountry stashes, national parks are almost certain to have a great adventure option for you. Here are a few ideas from some of the West’s magnificent national parks to get your planning process started.

Mount Rainier National Park

  • Paradise Valley Snowshoe: This short loop leaves from Paradise Inn and leads to Narada Falls.
  • Paradise Snowplay Sleddding Area: Come visit the only legal spot to sled in the park! The National Park service clears the runs, and a few facilities are on hand for the kids.
  • Edith Creek Basin: Easily one of the park’s best backcountry destinations. Low angle slopes and the nearby Paradise Lodge make this a great spot for learning, and the terrain’s diversity offers a match for skiers of all abilities.
Skinning into Edith Creek Basin. Photo by Benjamin Krause.

Crater Lake National Park

  • The Watchman Snowshoe: Snowshoe or ski a little more than 3 miles in for perhaps the best views in Crater Lake National Park.
  • Garfield Peak Snowshoe: Extensive views from the crater rim and peaceful, open meadows leading up to the highpoint.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

  • Lassen Southwest Entrance Winter Recreation Area: Regular snowplowing up to the Kohm Ya-mah-nee Visitor Center keeps this area an accessible hub for sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and backcountry touring.
  • Lassen Peak, Southeast Chutes: If you can find access to the Devastated Area, Lassen’s Southeast Chutes offer plenty of options. Avalanche exposure makes terrain and conditions evaluations critical here.
  • Mount Diller: A 400-foot chute sits on Diller’s southwest aspect, and bowls await on the north aspect. Access is via the visitor center.
Skinning across Lassen's east-facing slopes. Photo by Aron Bosworth.

Sequoia National Park

  • Wolverton to Pear Lake Ski Hut: This 6-mile, 2,300-foot climb to the Pear Lake Ski Hut is worth every bit of effort. Absolutely stunning scenery in the heart of Sequoia National Park.
  • Winter Alta: While you’re at the hut…enjoy incredible views and 2,000 feet of vertical at Winter Alta, one of the best runs in the Sierra.

Note: Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.

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