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Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks

01.22.18

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Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks

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  • Views from Glacier Point Road reach out to the Clark Ridge and beyond. - Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Looking out over the Yosemite wilderness.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Spring corn in Edith Basin.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Touring up the west side of Edith Basin as the sun rises over the Tatoosh Range.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • The west slopes of Edith Basin are low angle, making them a great option for beginners and when the avalanche danger is questionable.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Traversing Lassen's east-facing slopes with views of the Devastated Area to the north.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Fast GS turns in silky smooth corn.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Beginning the traverse around the lower east-facing slopes of Lassen.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • March corn conditions make for fun skiing in the southwest chute.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Access to Mount Diller begins along the Lassen Park Road (Highway 89), unplowed and open to skiers and snowshoers in winter.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • West Sulphur Creek bridge crossing in Lassen National Park.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Dropping off the Hump toward Heather Lake: Wolverton to Pear lake Ski Hut.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Pear Lake Ski Hut (advance reservations required).- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Traversing below the Matterhorn in Winter Alta.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Views around Winter Alta.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • During winter months skiers can shorten the distance into Winter Alta by staying at Pear Lake Ski Hut (advance reservations required).- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Steep sidwalls on Lassen Peak's Southesast Chutes give some of the terrain a surfy feel.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • From Garfield Peak, Union Peak towers over the lowlands in the distance.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • There are huge views from Garfield Peak across the meadows if the clouds are far away.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Lassen Peak's northeast face from the Devastated Area.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Descending Lassen's northeast aspect.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • The view toward Pilot Pinnacle (8,886 ft) with Lassen Peak (10,457 ft) rising above.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • The crater's rim juts out of the forest on the way to Garfield Peak. Mount Scott (8,934 ft) is in the distance.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • The Rim Road is not plowed in the winter, making it a perfect snowshoe or ski trail.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Beautiful winter views.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Pear Lake Ski Hut.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Pear Lake Ski Hut is a welcome sight following the steep 6-mile ski or snowshoe approach.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Last alpenglow on the Tatoosh as the sun sets. Tracks through Paradise Valley are evidence of many visitors.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Headlamps at Edith Creek Basin illuminate multiple routes on Mount Rainier (14,411 ft).- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • View of Mount Rainier (14,411 ft) from Paradise Winter Campsite.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Escaping the tree line en route to Lassen's north ridge.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
  • Forested sections are nothing short of magical.- Where to Find Great Backcountry Skiing in Our National Parks
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Contributor

Close your eyes and picture your favorite national park. The iconic peaks and valleys, the steeps and the lows, and the feeling you get when you are exploring it. Now, picture it covered in a soft blanket of white snow. It’s not a deterrent to continue your exploration, though. Far from it.

Now picture fresh turns down a quiet slope, looking up from the skin track to see a landscape that is nothing short of iconic, and seeing a familiar landscape totally changed from how it looks in the summertime.

From now until springtime, America’s national parks, specifically the mountainous ones, will be a backcountry touring dream come true.

National parks are the zenith of public lands for many of us. They stand out as the most epic, most beautiful, and most challenging landscapes in the U.S., and it make sense that backcountry skiers and riders who love this trifecta would get a kick out of them. Visiting a national park in the winter time is like discovering a delightful secret about an old friend.

Another bonus to winter touring in a national park: Most of the crowds you see during warmer months will opt for more indoor adventures during this time of year. But for backcountry skiers and splitboarders, the fun is just getting started.

Because national parks are usually remote, partially closed down for the winter, and often feature pretty rugged and challenging terrain, they aren’t always the best place for a beginning backcountry skier or splitboarder to test their mettle. If you are new to the sport, take an AIARE avalanche course, purchase the necessary gear (beacon, shovel, probe), and learn backcountry etiquette and safety from a more experienced friend or guide. Before heading straight to one of these remote lines, consider a more mellow and easily accessible tour close to the roads or other infrastructure until you become more confident. Another tip: read the avalanche forecast for a given area before you go.

Research the permitting process while planning your trip, as well. It’s almost 100% guaranteed to be different than when you visit a national park in the summer, but this varies from park to park. Even if you have a parks pass you might need a winter permit, which is often free, but alerts rangers that you are out in the backcountry.

All caveats aside, winter touring in one of these legendary destinations offers up an endless amount of awesome and is completely worth the time and energy it takes to get there.

For some of the most epic winter skiing in national parks, check out the following list.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Yosemite National Park

Sequoia National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Sundance
  • Hidden Valley

Glacier National Park

  • Logan Pass
  • Rogers Pass

Grand Teton National Park

  • 25 Short
  • Wimpy's
  • Maverick

Yellowstone National Park

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