Ready to get outside this winter, but hesitant about venturing into the wild alone? Many national parks offer ranger-led activities, which are fun (and often free) group adventures open to anyone who signs up. Let the thought of snowshoeing, stargazing, and hiking through a quiet national park entice you out of your house this winter.
Editor’s note: Some of the parks listed may have limited hours or reduced amenities, and ranger-led activities may be canceled due to the pandemic. Check with the park directly before planning a visit, and follow all state and local travel guidelines.
Snowshoe Walks, Mount Rainier, Washington
Held in late December through March, the ranger-guided snowshoe walks explore a quieter season at Mount Rainier. A park ranger will lead groups of up to 25 people through the snowy wonderland. On the trek, participants will learn about how the plants and animals of the park adapt to survive winter. Sign up at the Jackson Visitor Center, where you’ll be provided with free snowshoes to borrow for the tour. The snowshoe walks are free, but a $5 donation is suggested.
Full Moon Paddle, Everglades National Park, Florida
Winter is actually the best time to visit Everglades National Park, as it’s the dry season, and the weather is milder. Wait out the daytime crowds and come at night, where you can glide through the Everglades under the stars on a ranger-led paddle. Bring your own canoe or kayak or rent one—the tour is free of charge.
Full Moon Hike, Bryce National Park, Utah
The magical Full Moon Hikes held each month in Bryce National Park are so popular that participants are chosen via lottery. Click here for details on how to enter. In the winter months, when the snow is 16″ or higher, hikers are offered free snowshoes to help them make their way on the trails.
Bike Hike, Everglades National Park, Florida
See the Everglades National Park from a different perspective on the ranger-led Bike Hikes, held during the winter. Bikes, helmets, water, and fun facts are all provided for free on this guided tour through the Everglades.
Snowshoe Walks, Sequoia National Park, California
Imagine how gorgeous the towering sequoias look when covered in snow. Find out for yourself on a snowshoe walk in Sequoia National Park. When there is at least 8 inches of snow on the ground, visitors can sign up for free, ranger-led walks along the park’s snowy trails.
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