Winter is a season of stark contrasts across the National Park System. You can endure the harsh, brutal cold and snow of Yellowstone National Park, or enjoy snorkeling and snoozing on a beach at Virgin Islands National Park.
Just because summer vacation is long gone doesn't mean you should turn your back on the national parks. The coming months can offer solitude, deals on lodging, and experiences you can't enjoy during the warm-weather months.
This week the Traveler offers you a series of stories to help you enjoy the coming months in the national parks. We'll take a look at some great lodges to call home for your visit, point out some cold-weather -- and warm-weather -- parks to enjoy (and how to enjoy them), touch on seasonal wildlife moves, and even offer some suggestions on how to stay safe in the parks.
Is your heart set on coming face-to-face with parrotfish in parks such as Virgin Islands, Biscayne, or Dry Tortugas? Would you rather skim along on cross-country skis in Acadia or Grand Teton, or take your kids sledding at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park?
Winter is the high season at Death Valley National Park, which means lodging will be pricier than in summer, but it also means more reasonable temperatures for hiking across the park's dune fields or exploring its side canyons.
Big Bend National Park also cools off a tad in winter, and it's a great place to go birding as northern species head there to enjoy the milder climate, and southern species head to the region to breed late in winter.
Yes, there's lots to see and do in the national parks during the coming months, and beginning tomorrow we'll point out some of the highlights. We hope you enjoy the insights.