Maybe the recent polar vortex rocking most of the United States has got you thinking about warmer weather climates as a potential getaway. According to the Farmer’s Almanac prediction, this winter is shaping up to have colder-than-normal temperatures and above average snowfall and precipitation. If you’re ready to embrace the cold, Pocket Ranger® has some great information on Fun State Park Winter Activities, but if you’re into some warmer adventures here are some state and national park winter escapes where you can enjoy snorkeling, swimming, hiking and camping.
The First Underwater Park in the United States
What could be further away from the arctic environments than an underwater park with snorkeling, scuba diving and glassbottom boats for viewing the coral reef? Economical and family-oriented, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is America’s first underwater park and it is located on Key Largo in Florida. The park itself includes approximately 70 square nautical miles of waters in the Atlantic Ocean and is home to a stunning array of marine life.Snorkeling and Scuba tours are available where you can check out the coral and fish up close as well as the iconic Christ of the Abyss statue. The aquatic wildlife is spectacular with 260 species of tropical fish, including bright parrotfish that come in a variety of colors and the world famous great barracuda! These are some fearsome looking predators, but despite their characteristic rows of sharp teeth, barracudas don’t cause any trouble with humans. Not into snorkeling or scuba diving? Explore the 178 miles of coral reefs on one of the glassbottom boat tours! You can enjoy the diverse wildlife of the park without going underwater at the aquarium, or maybe you want to relax at the nearby beach. Download the Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger® App and get transported into another world at this underwater state park!
Death Valley National Park, California
You want hot? You’ve got it. While parks in some locations might close down in the winter due to excessively cold temperatures, Death Valley National Park actually closes down in the summer because it gets too hot! With temperatures in the triple digits in the summer, many parts of this park are actually better to visit in winter. Check out Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. The park actually warns against hiking the Badwater Basin salt flats in the summertime.Even in the wintertime the days will still be warm and dry and hikers should be sure to drink plenty of water. (One and a half gallons a day is recommended.) Contrary to its grim name, a wide range of life has found a way to thrive in Death Valley. The nights will get chilly here, but not polar vortex chilly.
Waterfalls in Alabama
For a laid back getaway, why not spend a day with some waterfalls at DeSoto State Park in Alabama? These waterfalls are enjoyable most of the year, but will be particularly delightful when most of the country is experiencing winter.In addition to over 25 miles of hiking trails, DeSoto offers visitors interesting rock formations, the opportunity to enjoy varied and abundant plant and animal life and for visitors in the mood for biking, over 10 miles of mountain biking trails. This will also be a great opportunity to use the all-new Pocket Ranger® Official Guide for Alabama Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife.
Snow Canyon State Park
We know what you’re thinking; winter escapes and a place called Snow Canyon seem like an unlikely combination. But Snow Canyon State Park in Utah is actually a great winter escape! Named after Utah pioneers Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, Snow Canyon State Park doesn’t actually sport much of the white stuff from its namesake. The park is known for its mild weather and the daytime is warm and sunny and great for hiking even in the dead of winter!Part of the 62,000-acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, this park is a favorite destination for winter camping. The site for the classic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the landscape is dominated by the dramatic geology of the orange-red Navajo sandstone cliffs.
Winter is the less frequented time of year so visitors can enjoy this landscape in a more peaceful and solitary environment than in the summer. The Utah State Parks Pocket Ranger® App is an indispensable item for your trip!
Balmorhea State Park
Did you know there are spring-fed swimming pools? Balmorhea State Park in Texas has the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool!The pool spans 1.75 acres and guess what? No matter how cold it is in other parts of the country, this state park’s swimming pool stays at 72-76 degrees year round!
The water comes from the San Solomon Springs, which has been providing water for thousands of years, (first to the Mescalero Apache and later to Mexican farmers for irrigation.)
Each day, 23-28 million gallons of water from Solomon Springs flow through the pool.
There are even scuba diving opportunities at this pool, highly regarded for the amazing clarity of its waters down to 25 feet deep!
Do any readers out there have suggestions for fun winter escapes?