6 Reasons to Explore Parks in the Winter
December 1, 2019 | Permalink
While summer is a popular time to head outdoors, there are significant benefits to hitting the woods in the winter months. Whether you’re talking about a trip to the beach or time in a state park, everybody knows that the offseason is the best season. If you want to hack your vacations and find top notch adventures, here are a few reasons why you should visit in the offseason months:
1. Smaller Crowds
Vacation is a time to rest. It shouldn’t be a time for waiting in lines and fighting traffic. The same is true for park visits. Winter visitors will enjoy fewer people in the campgrounds and better access to overlooks and waterfalls. You might even find yourself standing alone at places like the Cummins Falls overlook; places that are overrun in the summertime. Smaller crowds make winter visits ideal for introverts, families with young kids, and photographers who don’t want people wandering into their shots. (Photo of Radnor Lake State Park courtesy of Tennessee Photographs)
2. Greater Visibility
The lack of foliage on the trees and bushes opens up the forest. It can make an old, familiar trail seem new and different. Hikers can see down into valleys as they traverse rim trails normally obscured by vegetation. Birds become more vibrant as they’re set against the brown backdrops of timber and fallen leaves. Roaring white waterfalls, set against the grey skies and stone, become the towering focus of photographs. The winter even draws the eyes attention to the beautiful of evergreens. What once were just actors contributing to the colors of the forest now take center stage. This is especially true at places like Natchez Trace State Park, Pickett CCC Memorial State Park, Roan Mountain State Park, and Rocky Fork State Park. (Photo of Pogue Creek Canyon near Pickett CCC Memorial State Park courtesy of Jeremy Rasnic)
Places to Stay: Natchez Trace, Pickett CCC Memorial and Roan Mountain all offer cabin and campsite rentals. Rocky Fork does not have overnight accommodations, but is an easy drive from Roan Mountain.
3. Frozen Waterfalls
There is perhaps no greater sight to behold than a frozen waterfall. Think about the force with which some of these falls flow. For them to suddenly stand still, as if suspended in time, is a unique and powerful demonstration. Visitors who head outdoors after extended periods of sub-freezing temperatures are often rewarded with these majestic sights. Places like Fall Creek Falls State Park, Rock Island State Park, Cumberland Mountain State Park, Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park, Frozen Head State Park and David Crockett State Park are great places to stay overnight and see frozen waterfalls in the park and surrounding areas. (Photo of Cummins Falls State Park courtesy of Corey Perry Photography)
Places to Stay: All of the parks listed above offer campsite rentals. Guests can also rent cabins at Fall Creek Falls, Rock Island, Cumberland Mountain, and David Crockett.
4. Fewer Bugs
If your complaints about camping are the mosquitoes and other critters, then the off-season is the time to visit a park. Ditch the can of bug repellant and enjoy a little time outdoors without smelling like a citronella candle. Ants and other bugs are also less prone to bother you during the winter months.
5. Warm Fires
Doesn’t the taste of hot chocolate, the gooeyness of warm marshmallows, a piping bowl of chili, and the smell of burning wood evoke a sense of nostalgia for the winter? Now imagine yourself sitting next to a warm fire-pit, or nestled beside a cozy cabin fireplace. That is an experience best appreciated on a winter vacation. Grab a good book, or your closest friends, and find some rest in the crackling of the fire and the flickering flame. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Rasnic)
6. Cheaper Rates
Everyone knows that you get better rates when you visit the beach during the off-season. The same is true for state parks. Winter discounts on camping, inn rooms and cabin rentals make it the perfect season for vacation hackers and budget conscious travelers. (Photo of cabin at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park courtesy of Tennessee Photographs)