Explore Go Lists

Tranquil Winter Escapes

Our recreation experts have scouted the country for excellent locations to enjoy peaceful winter activities. Winter is a great time to view bald eagles and other wildlife with blankets of snow creating contrast and fallen leaves providing open windows into their habitat. Glide, slide or tromp your way through the snow with our top picks for cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and other ways to experience your federal lands in the less-visited winter months.

Another popular, yet tranquil activity is Winter Bald Eagle Watching along the Mississippi Flyway or if you prefer an adrenalin rush with your snow, be sure to check out our Downhill Thrills Go List, too!

Search by state: California, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

California

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a magical place in winter, when you can ice skate beneath the magnificent rock walls in Yosemite Valley, ski or snowboard at Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area or snowshoe through the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove. When it is time to warm up your toes, climb in your sleeping bag at Upper Pines campground or choose a comfortable room at one of the lodges in the park. Visit the park's website for more details about winter sports in Yosemite.




Idaho

Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
Kooenai National Wildlife Refuge
Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge

At Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge you can cross-country ski 6.5 miles (10.4 km) of wide, largely flat ungroomed ski trails (4.5 miles (7.2 km) on the auto tour road and 2 miles (3.2 km) on a county road that joins it). From the elevated dike overlooking the refuge wetlands, you might see elk, white-tailed deer, Canada geese, and tundra swans.


Maine

Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park offers just about all the winter activities you can think of—from cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing, to winter hiking. The park’s 45 miles (72.4 km) of carriage roads draw cross-country skiers and snowshoers. You can even find equipment rental information through the local chambers of commerce. For hardy types who want to stay overnight, primitive winter camping is free at Blackwoods campground. Does your dog love snow? Dog sledding, dog carts and skijoring (being pulled) with dogs is permitted on all closed motor roads and fire roads. Visitors can check out the Acadia pets web page for more specific information.

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
Rachel Carson National
Wildlife Refuge

At Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge you can cross-country ski wooded trails along the upland edge of the saltmarsh on 5 miles (8 km) of ungroomed trails shared by skiers, hikers and snowshoers. You might see white-tailed deer, moose and migratory waterfowl such as black ducks, mallards and Canada goose. One trail is flat and easy; two other trails have rolling hills. A trail map is available on the refuge website.




Michigan

Seney National Wildlife Refuge
Seney National Wildlife Refuge
Seney National Wildlife Refuge

At the Northern Hardwoods Cross Country Ski Area at Seney National Wildlife Refuge, you can ski more than 9 miles (14.4 km) of trails groomed for classic cross-country skiing through mature stands of sugar maple, beech and yellow birch trees. Admire hardwood forests, marshes and the frozen Manistique River and maybe get a glimpse of a white-tailed deer, bald eagle, coyote or a red fox. Trails are usually groomed weekly and are rated easy to difficult. A map is available on the refuge’s website.


Minnesota

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Minnesota Valley National
Wildlife Refuge

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has an extensive cross-county ski trail network in the Minnesota River flood plain that allows you to explore parts of the refuge that are inaccessible most of the year. Refuge trails lead past forest, prairie and marshland where you might catch a glimpse of wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, bald eagles and woodpeckers! Some of the hundreds of miles of trails link with adjacent state and municipal trails, and you can borrow snowshoes free with a picture ID at the Rapids Lake and Bloomington visitor centers.

Rydell National Wildlife Refuge
Rydell National Wildlife Refuge
Rydell National Wildlife Refuge

At Rydell National Wildlife Refuge you can cross-county ski, hike or snowshoe 7 miles (11.2 km) of wide groomed trails along savannah, wetlands and maple basswood forest. Bring your binoculars or a camera—you may see white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, fishers (members of the weasel family), chickadees, goldfinches, redpolls, blue jays or nuthatches. Use this trail guide or pick one up at the refuge.

Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge

Cross-country ski 8 miles (12.8 km) along scenic lakes through northern woodlands at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. Occasionally groomed, the Pine Lake Ski Trail consists of two loops: a relatively flat 2.2 mile (3.5 km) loop and a hillier and more challenging 5.7 mile (9.1 km) loop. You might see white-tailed deer, wolves or otters. You can call the refuge for the latest grooming conditions and pick up a trail map at the refuge visitor center or information kiosk (or download one from the refuge’s map page).

Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park is a special place to enjoy the beauty of frozen lakes, sparkling snow and dramatic landscapes. The park keeps the Rainy Lake Visitor Center open Wednesday through Sunday during the winter months and offers a cozy fire, hot cocoa, free snowshoe loans and cross-country ski rentals. Whether you want to snowmobile, snowshoe, cross-country ski, ice fish or travel on an ice road by car, this park has it all. View the park website for more winter activities and be sure to read our spotlight article about Voyageurs.


New York

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
Seney National Wildlife Refuge
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

Ski Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge for flat, mostly wooded trails that circle a large marsh. Weather permitting, the (ungroomed) Mohawk Ski Trail (7.5 miles/12 km) is open to cross-country skiing and snow shoeing, October 1 through the end of February. The Kanyoo and Onondaga Nature Trails and Feeder Road are also open for skiing and snow-shoeing. Wildlife viewing includes white-tailed deer, otter, songbirds, bald eagles, squirrels, chipmunks or chickadees. From March through mid-July, portions of the refuge are closed to permit wildlife to breed and raise their young without human disturbance. From March 1 until September 1 there is limited access into the refuge but trails and overlooks remain open year-round.


North Dakota

Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge
Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge
Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge

Here is your chance to snowshoe at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge! The refuge's 9 miles (14.4 km) of ungroomed trails overlook a lovely river valley and you might catch a glimpse of coyote, sharp-tailed grouse, pheasant, Hungarian partridge, white-tailed deer, cedar waxwings, chickadees and blue jays, or even a moose. What could be better?


Oregon

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park

On an average year Crater Lake National Park receives 44 feet (13.4 m) of snow! All of this snow provides a dazzling white cover that makes the vibrant blue water of the lake stun your senses. Those that are well prepared for the cold will find cross-country ski trails along the Rim Drive which circles the lake. The park also offers ranger-led snowshoe walks on weekends throughout the winter months.


Pennsylvania

Tioga-Hammond and Cowanesque Lakes
Tioga-Hammond Lake
Tioga-Hammond Lake (Bernadette
Chiaramonte-Brown/USACE)

Tioga-Hammond Lakes and Cowanesque Lake are open for winter activities! Try a winter walk on the Moccasin, Stephenhouse Loop or C. Lynn Keller Trails. For all around great birding try Ives Run, or find snow-covered (but ungroomed) fields for skiing (snow cover permitting) at Lambs Creek Recreation Area. The lakes also offer winter outings in partnership with the Tioga County Step Outdoors Network. For more information contact the Lake Project at (570) 835-5281.


Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park
Winter at Bryce Canyon
Winter at Bryce Canyon

Imagine red rock hoodoos wrapped in snow and standing under crystal clear blue skies. This is Bryce Canyon National Park in winter. This park in southern Utah offers many winter outdoor activities for the cold weather enthusiast. There are a variety of routes available for cross-country skiing within the park and many more groomed ski trails in Bryce Canyon City just outside the park boundaries. Plan your visit when the moon is full and enjoy a ranger guided full moon snowshoe hike.


Vermont

Winhall Brook, Ball Mountain Lake
Winhall Brook
Winhall Brook

Ball Mountain Lake’s lovely Winhall Brook Campground is closed for the season, but the lake offers 7 miles (11.2 km) of free cross-country skiing and snowshoeing from January through March on groomed trails around the camping area. On a frosty morning, try the Main Trail or the 4 mile (6.4 km) Southside Trail that runs along the West River to Pratt's Bridge Road, or for a 3 mile (4.8 km) loop, try the North Side Trail. The Winhall Brook campground is at the end of Winhall Station Road in South Londonderry.

Townshend Lake
Townshend Lake
Townshend Lake

Townshend Lake offers 5 miles (8 km) of multiuse trails for snow lovers. Begin your journey at the trailhead located at the entrance to Old Route 30 in West Townshend. The trail follows Old Route 30 to the West River Trail and runs to east Jamaica and back. Snowshoers, hikers and snowmobilers are asked to stay off the groomed cross-country ski tracks.


Washington

Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park transforms into a snow covered wonderland each winter as thick snow and icicles cover the meadows, forests, glaciers and historic buildings of the park. Cold weather adventure seekers will find opportunities to winter camp, sled, ski, snowboard or go on a ranger-guided snowshoe walk. Each winter in the Paradise area, park rangers designate a family friendly snowplay area for fun sledding and sliding. Check the park website for more details on winter recreation at Mount Rainier and read our Spotlight: Snow Play at Mt. Rainier National Park.


West Virginia

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Canaan Valley National Wildlife
Refuge

At Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, you can choose between cross-country ski trails that cross flat, open meadows or climb steeply through the woods. You may see white-tailed deer, rabbit, snowshoe hare, rough-legged hawks or songbirds. The refuge offers 31 miles (49.8 km) of ungroomed trails plus 10 miles (16 km) of groomed trails maintained by the privately owned White Grass Ski Touring Center. White Grass also offers equipment rentals. You can download a trail map from the refuge website or call (304) 866-3858 for a refuge trail brochure that combines a trail map with trail descriptions and levels of difficulty.


Wisconsin

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge
Trempealeau National Wildlife
Refuge

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge offers 4 miles (6.4 km) of ungroomed trails for skiing, snowshoeing or hiking along wooded edges of prairies and wetlands, where you might see white-tailed deer, wild turkey, fox, otter, bald eagles or beaver. Snowshoes are available free for use on site. The refuge offers some guided snowshoe tours and cross-country ski tours so check the refuge website for a schedule or to download a ski trails guide.


Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National
Park

A visit to Yellowstone National Park inspires exploration, especially in winter! View steaming geysers, bison, wolves, moose, elk, eagles, coyotes and a unique landscape while cross-country skiing one of the groomed trails or while riding a snowmobile or snowcoach. Most visitors contact one of Yellowstone's Permitted Skiing and Snowshoeing Service Providers. Do-it-yourselfers should read our spotlight article to learn how you can enter the lottery for a permit to snowmobile without a commercial guide. Check out the park website for more information on winter activities and be sure to prepare properly for the extreme cold of Yellowstone in winter.