9 Finest Nationwide Parks to Go to in December

In search of one of the best nationwide parks to go to in December?

Since we stay within the Southwest, December is the proper time to discover close by Nationwide Parks. Some parks within the US flip into winter wonderlands, whereas others are lastly bearable with cooler temps. Minus the vacations, you additionally get to benefit from the parks with fewer crowds.


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Final Up to date: November 10, 2022

Earlier than we get into it, we need to remind everybody to discover the parks responsibly utilizing the 7 Go away no Hint Rules. Have a plan, keep on established trails, perform something you carry in, go away what you discover, decrease campfire impression, respect wildlife, and be thoughtful of others.

Concerning the Nationwide Park by month Collection

To place collectively this record, we’ve mixed our private experiences and suggestions we gathered from locals and cross-referenced them with the climate, accessibility, native boards, seasonal points of interest like fall foliage or wildflowers, and particular occasions occurring within the space. We additionally thought of any distinctive adventures solely supplied at sure instances of the 12 months to seek out essentially the most optimum months to go to every Nationwide Park. Phew! that was quite a bit!

It took me an entire week of analysis, however since I’m a maximizer, it was price having a year-round calendar of adventures (publishing that quickly!). Additionally, take a look at our full record of all of the nationwide parks and nationwide park models that embrace soon-to-be nationwide parks.

We additionally selected to depart out the hardest-to-access nationwide parks on this sequence.

Nationwide Parks By Month – Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec | Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | Could | Jun | Jul

Is December a Good Time to Go to Nationwide Parks?

Sure! Although summer season is the preferred time to journey, and fall often has the proper temps, sure nationwide parks are perfect for visiting in December.

Plan on visiting greater than two nationwide parks this 12 months? Choose up an America the Lovely annual cross to economize (entrance charges to every park are, on common, $30-35 per car). Plus, you might be serving to help the Parks that all the time want funding.

19 Finest Nationwide Parks to Go to in December

To Escape the Chilly

1. Biscayne Nationwide Park, Florida

9700 SW 328th St, Homestead, FL 33033, map

Common Temperatures: 68°F / 62°F

Why Go to: The perfect climate in Biscayne Nationwide Park begins in December, which is able to make it busier, however the gentle temperatures are price it. Since 95% of the park is within the water, get able to spend time in a ship or the water. Don’t neglect to look out for manatees!

Finest For / Prime Actions: Swimming, Snorkeling, Fishing, Mountain climbing

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Boca Chita Key, Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, Snorkeling, Jones Lagoon
  • Wildlife – Sea Turtles, Manatees, Spiny Lobster, Snapper, Grouper
  • What number of days do you want? 2-3

Professional Tip: 90% of tourists enter the park through boat, so plan accordingly!

See Associated – 7 Exceptional Issues to Do in Key West Florida

Biscayne National Parks in FloridaPin

2. Everglades Nationwide Park, Florida

40001 State Hwy 9336, Homestead, FL 33034, map

Common Temperatures: 78°F / 60°F

Why Go to: December is the dry season in Everglades Nationwide Park. You get cooler temps, and also you’ll discover fewer mosquitos, and wildlife shall be extra lively and ample.

Finest For / Prime Actions: Boating, Tenting, Kayaking, Bicycling, Fishing, Mountain climbing, Excursions

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Shark Valley, Anhinga Path, Eco Pond, Snake Bight, 9 Mile Pond
  • Wildlife – Alligators, Raccoons, Opossums, Bobcats, Grey Fox, Leopard Frogs, Roseate Spoonbill, Manatee
  • What number of days do you want? 2-3

Professional Tip: Since visiting in the course of the dry season is common, make superior reservations for tenting, lodging, and excursions.

See Associated – 7 Enjoyable Issues to Do in Sarasota Florida

things to do in everglades national parkPin

For the Cooler Temps

3. Demise Valley Nationwide Park, California

36.4799715,-118.1707461, map

Common Temperatures: 65°F / 39°F

Why Go to: Possibly it’s as a result of we get sufficient of the scorching warmth in Vegas, however I cannot contact Demise Valley till winter. December is without doubt one of the finest instances to go to Demise Valley, with heat temperatures in the course of the day for hikes. At evening, temperatures drop considerably, so pack layers. It’s the desert method.

Finest For / Prime Actions: Hikers, Backpackers, Scenic Drive, Images

Don’t Miss:

Professional Tip: The park is big. We have been stunned at how lengthy it took to drive from one spot to the subsequent. Give your self loads of journey time. Additionally, remember the fact that the times are shorter in December.

See Associated – 15 Unbelievable Issues to Do in Demise Valley Nationwide Park

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death ValleyPin

4. Joshua Tree Nationwide Park, California

6554 Park Blvd, Joshua Tree, CA 92252, map

Common Temperatures: 61°F / 37°F

Why Go to: We love Joshua Tree in December for the climbing. For individuals who don’t climb, it’s nonetheless a good time to get photographs of Joshua timber, rock piles, and epic sunsets. There isn’t as a lot to do on this park in case you’re not into climbing, but it surely’s price visiting no less than as soon as. When the temps drop at evening, it’s good for sitting across the campfire if you’re fortunate sufficient to get a tenting spot.

Finest For / Prime Actions: Mountain climbing, Backpacking, Stargazing, Tenting, Scenic Drives, Climbing

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Arch Rock, Cholla Cactus Backyard, Halls of Horror, Cranium Rock
  • Wildlife – Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Coyote, Grey Fox, Desert Package Fox, Black Bear, Bighorn Sheep, Desert Cottontail
  • What number of days do you want? 1 or 2-3 in case you climb

Professional Tip: The park will get busier in the course of the cooler seasons, so e-book your website early in case you’re hoping to camp.

See Associated – 11 Wonderful Issues to Do in Joshua Tree Nationwide Park

Belle Campground Joshua TreePin

5. Mammoth Cave Nationwide Park, Kentucky

37.1879181,-86.1028107, map

Common Temperatures: 49°F / 38°F

Why Go to: Winter is the off-season at Mammoth Cave, making December one of the best time to keep away from crowds. The cave stays the identical temperature year-round (54° F or 12 °C). You’ll get to discover the caves in smaller teams. Will probably be chilly in case you plan on exploring any floor trails, however if in case you have the suitable gear, you’ll be good to go.

Finest For / Prime Actions: Mountain climbing, Bicycling, Cave Excursions, Kayaking

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Mammoth Cave, Doyel Valley Overlook, Sundown Level, Inexperienced River
  • Wildlife – Bats, White-Tailed Deer, Coyote, Black Bear
  • What number of days do you want? 1-3

Native Tip: They provide fewer cave excursions in the course of the winter however don’t e-book up shortly like they do in the summertime.

See Associated – Full Nationwide Parks Record by State


6. Saguaro Nationwide Park, Arizona

2700 N Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743, map

Common Temperatures: 65°F / 39°F

Why Go to: Cool days make December among the finest instances to discover Saguaro Nationwide Park. Should you go to in early December, the crowds are manageable, however the park’s busiest time is between Christmas and New Yr.

Finest For / Prime Actions: Mountain climbing, Scenic Drive, Images, Tenting, Ranger Packages

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Valley View Overlook Path, Cactus Forest Drive, Bajada Loop Drive, Sign Hill Path, Desert Museum
  • Wildlife – Bats, Bobcats, Javelina, Mountain Lions, Grey Fox, Coyotes, Ringtail
  • What number of days do you want? 1-3

Native Tip: The park has an East and West portion separated by the town (roughly 30-45 minutes). Whenever you plan your journey, bear in mind the place every path is.

See Associated – 11 Lovely Issues to Do in Saguaro Nationwide Park

Saguaro Cactus in Sunset + 11 Beautiful Things to Do in Saguaro National Park ArizonaPin

7. White Sands Nationwide Park, New Mexico

19955 US-70, Alamogordo, NM 88310, map

Common Temperatures: 57°F / 22°F

Why Go to: December is a good time to go to White Sands Nationwide Park because it’s a a lot quieter time of 12 months. You may even camp underneath the celebs however be ready with cold-weather tenting gear since temperatures are freezing at evening.

Finest For / Prime Actions: Mountain climbing, Bicycling, Backcountry Tenting, Images, Stargazing, Sledding

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Sledding, Dune Life Nature Path, Alkali Flat Path, Playa Path
  • Wildlife – American Badger, Apache Pocket Mouse, Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Bobcat, Coyote, Package Fox
  • What number of days do you want? 1-2

Native Tip: Hold your eye on path markers once you’re mountaineering. It could possibly get disorienting in a short time. We discovered our method again utilizing the route of the solar setting. It additionally helps to obtain an offline model of google maps of the world.

See Associated – 5 Unbelievable Issues to Do at White Sands Nationwide Park

Popular White Sands in New MexicoPin

For Winter Actions

8. Nice Sand Dunes Nationwide Park, Colorado

11999 CO-150, Mosca, CO 81146, map

Common Temperatures: 36°F / 12°F

Why Go to: We have to return to see the good dunes coated in snow in the course of the winter. The park fully transforms, and as a substitute of sandboarding, you may sled or snowboard on the dunes. Snow usually falls as soon as per week on the dunes and mountains in December.

Finest For / Prime Actions: Mountain climbing, Sand Boarding, Off-Roading, Stargazing, Images

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Excessive Dune, Sand Boarding, Medano Creek, Zapata Falls
  • Wildlife – Mule Deer, Ord’s Kangaroo Rats, Black Bears, Abert’s Squirrels, Pronghorn, Pikas, Elk
  • What number of days do you want? 1-3

Professional Tip: Regardless that it snows as soon as every week, they clear the roads shortly. Plan your visits in the course of the afternoon for the warmest climate.

See Associated – 9 Issues You Can’t Miss at Nice Sand Dunes Nationwide Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park SandboardingPin

9. Acadia Nationwide Park, Maine

25 Customer Heart Rd, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, map

Common Temperatures: 34°F / 14°F

Why Go to: Should you love having a Nationwide Park to your self, December is the time to go. The frigid climate retains folks away, however so long as you gown appropriately, it’s a incredible time to discover. You can also get pleasure from winter actions like snowshoeing or cross-country snowboarding.

Finest For / Prime Actions: Scenic Drive, Mountain climbing, Snowshoeing, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Ocean Drive, Jordan Pond Highway, Thunder Gap, Sand Seaside, Beehive, Cadillac North Ridge Path
  • Wildlife – Moose, Whitetail Deer, Beavers, Seals, Harbor Porpoises
  • What number of days do you want? 1-3

Professional Tip: Customer Facilities shall be closed in the course of the winter, however they do share customer hours with the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. Test what’s open earlier than visiting for the reason that park is extra restricted.

See Associated – 15 Breathtaking Issues to Do in Acadia Nationwide Park

Acadia National Park Things to DoPin

Map of the Finest Nationwide Parks to Go to in December

Need to See Extra NATIONAL Parks to Go to in December?

Should you’re a nationwide park lover like us and have accomplished lots of the above, listed here are some extra concepts for Nationwide Parks to go to in December. Whereas December will not be essentially the most ultimate month of the 12 months to go to these parks, it’s nonetheless worthwhile.

Ideas for Visiting the Finest Nationwide Parks in December

  • Discover the parks responsibly utilizing Leave no Trace principles. Keep on established trails, perform something you carry in, and so forth.
  • Choose up the Nationwide Park Annual Move in case you plan on visiting a number of parks inside the 12 months. It saves you some huge cash.
  • It’s all the time a good suggestion to pack layers wherever you go. Some parks are heat in the course of the day and funky at evening. Take note of the elevation change too! Some parks shall be heat on the valley flooring and chilly at larger elevations.
  • You could want a reservation. See nationwide parks that now require reservations right here.
  • At all times examine the park’s website and Guests Heart for essentially the most up-to-date info on closures.
  • Keep in mind that wildlife is wild. Be aware of how one can work together with animals and the way a lot area you must have between you and them.
Balcony House Tour, Mesa Verde National Park COPin

What to Pack

How you’ll pack is determined by which park you go to and the actions you intend, however here’s a basic information on objects we all the time attempt to pack.

Wanna know what to put on on the airport? These are my airport outfits.


Are nationwide parks crowded in December?

December is without doubt one of the finest instances to go to a majority of Nationwide Parks as a result of they’re much less crowded than in the summertime, however a choose few get busier in the event that they’re unbearably scorching in the summertime.

What time of 12 months is finest to go to nationwide parks?

September and October are usually one of the best instances to go to since most parks are much less crowded, however this is determined by the area or particular actions like leaf-peeping. Plus, it’s often cheaper, the climate is gentle, and the animals are extra lively.

What nationwide park is finest to go to in December?

We simply made an inventory of this! Test it out here.

What’s the finest nationwide park to go to within the winter?

All of the parks on this record are good for one motive or one other, however our vote goes to Demise Valley Nationwide Park for its variety within the panorama and climate.

What’s Zion like in December?

Chilly and moist! Temperatures are usually 50-60°F in the course of the day and nicely beneath freezing at evening. Half of the annual precipitation in Zion falls between December and March.

How is Yellowstone in December?

Yellowstone in December is chilly and snowy. The park additionally has restricted entry, which takes extra planning.

What’s Yosemite like in December?

The excessive nation is closed for the winter, however you may nonetheless go to Yosemite Valley. It’s usually chilly and snowy, however sunny and hotter days occur too.

Is Glacier park open in December?

Glacier Nationwide Park is open all 12 months, however some trails and parts of the park are closed, together with Going-to-the-Solar Highway and Logan Move.

How scorching is Grand Canyon in December?

On the South Rim, the highs are often round 45 levels Fahrenheit, and the lows are about 18.

Are you able to consider others that belong on this record of finest nationwide parks to go to in December? Which of them are we lacking?




“Discovery consists not of looking for new lands however in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust