Some state parks are especially beautiful in the winter and offer tons of activities to get your blood pumping.
These parks offer a wide variety of activities, from snowshoeing and skiing to hiking and stargazing.
Here are the thirteen best parks to explore in the snow or wintery temperatures for a new world full of adventure.
Map of State Parks With Winter Activities
Here is a map of the American State Parks covered in this post:
1. Muskegon State Park in Michigan
Location: 3560 Memorial Dr, North Muskegon, MI 49445
Muskegon State Park borders Lake Michigan in Michigan, making it an excellent park for sports year-round.
People flock here in the winter to enjoy 15 miles of cross-country skiing tracks. Ice skaters enjoy the natural two-acre outdoor ice.
At night, lights illuminate the natural ice rink and the 1/4-mile skating trail that meanders through the woods. However, Luging takes the win as the most popular winter sport in the park.
With one of only four luge tracks in the United States, Muskegon has become a necessity for its sports park and an option for first-time lugers.
Even though it is shorter than the Olympic tracks, the Muskegon track still offers an Olympic thrill without compromising on safety.
Other activities include snowshoeing with the region’s most breathtaking views along snowshoe trails. Bring the kids to the sledding area for hours of sliding, and parents can join in too!
2. Wasatch Mountain State Park in Utah
Head to Utah’s Wasatch Mountain State Park for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and more. Rentals are available for those who want to ski across the golf course in a couple of feet of snow.
The Olympic Legacy Foundation maintains biathlon courses, cross-country skiing trails, and a tubing hill in the vicinity of the day lodge at Soldier Hollow.
The adventure keeps going as sleigh rides are available, and the park hosts Ice Castles so people can make ice sculptures.
Avalanches are possible, so always take at least one friend with you when enjoying the activities such as snowmobiling.
Enjoy camping if you want to enjoy your activities longer, as you also have the option to hike or bike along the alpine trails. The park offers all the amenities you will need for your adventure.
3. Pokagon State Park in IndianaLocation: 450 Ln 100 Lake James, Angola, IN 46703
If you want a winter wonderland, Pokagon State Park in Indiana is the place to go. In the winter, tourists can also go sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in addition to using the Toboggan Run.
Those willing to brave the lake can try ice fishing, depending on the conditions. Even if you want to simply try an activity and then enjoy the wintery scenery, you will love this park.
Pokagon State Park has a toboggan run measuring 1,780 feet in length and 90 feet in elevation. In addition, the park’s toboggan run has a top speed record of 42 miles per hour, one of the United States’ highest and fastest toboggan runs.
Visitors can also enjoy sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and the Toboggan Run. It is a great destination whether you are seeking a wintertime thrill or a tranquil place to enjoy the great outdoors.
4. Sylvan Lake State Park in Colorado
Sylvan Lake State Park in Colorado is one of the state’s best-kept wintertime secrets as it’s quieter than Vail Valley, Sylvan opts for a different approach to the winter season by doing without chairlifts and superpipes.
Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, sledding, wildlife watching, and winter camping are just some of the activities that visitors can enjoy thanks to the abundance of snow, the sense of seclusion, and the pristine nature of the area.
People come to see the breathtaking mountain views, quiet aspen groves, and the placid lake and stay for an invigorating getaway. Once Sylvan Lake freezes over, ice anglers can enjoy the lake with all the gear available to rent.
It’s also a great place to try snowshoeing, with challenging trails and free snowshoes at the visitor’s center. While snowmobiling is prohibited, you can try all the other options and watch for the park’s famous bald eagles.
5. Mueller State Park in Colorado
Colorado makes the list as it’s the top location in the nation for winter sports. Mueller State Park is a great place to spend the winter because of its many fun things to do in the winter.
Get out of the house and try cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, sledding, tubing, snowboarding, and winter camping with electricity. Despite all of the options for fun, the parks are a well-kept secret with far less crowding than other locations.
Visitors can stay awhile by camping so they can enjoy the skiing for longer. Families can take their sleds and enjoy the mountain properly.
The adventure can go on with several miles of trails until everyone runs out of steam. Snowshoers and cross-country skiers can choose from various trails in the park, ranging from short, easy loops to longer, more challenging excursions of up to seven miles in length during the winter months.
Three designated hills for sledding, tubing, skiing, and snowboarding make it a paradise for winter sports fans.
6. Blackwater Falls State Park in Virginia
Blackwater Falls State Park sits on the river of the same name in northern West Virginia. People clamor here to see the waterfall frozen over and to enjoy a sled run with stunning views of the mountains.
As a matter of fact, the park’s home to the longest sled run on the East Coast. Kids and adults will find the run thrilling, with a quarter mile of powdery mountain snow with a ride to the top on the Magic Carpet.
Winter’s the park’s favorite time of year for adventurers who want to go skiing, snowboarding, tubing, sledding, ice skating, hiking, or sightseeing. There is a winter activity perfect for you and your loved ones, no matter what you are into.
If you get cold, stop by the snack bar and order some of the most delicious hot chocolate in the state to warm up. Hiking through West Virginia’s wintry landscape is the perfect activity if you would rather spend your time in quiet contemplation.
7. Sand Harbor State Park in NevadaLocation: 2005 NV-28, Incline Village, NV 89452
While Nevada’s known for warm summers, at Lake Tahoe, you can find winter activities at Sand Harbor State Park. It’s the perfect location for skiing on flat terrain if you want a change of pace from big mountain skiing.
On a pair of cross-country skis, you can see the beautiful forests surrounding Lake Tahoe like never before while getting a workout and experiencing the local animals and scenery.
Many people like to take a break from exploring the park to take a wintertime sleigh ride for more time in the sun and a gorgeous park spanning two states. Take some time for yourself and camp at the park in one of the campgrounds, cabins, and yurts.
Other winter adventures enjoy hunting, ice fishing, ice skating, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and sledding – all of the absolute must-have winter activities.
8. Moraine State Park in Pennsylvania
Winter sports fans in west central Pennsylvania should head to Moraine State Park for sledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, and more.
Locals flock to the park at the beginning of February for the annual Winterfest, where you can partake in snow and cold weather activities, see demonstrations, listen to live performances and shop at local vendors. People drive up from Pittsburgh to get out of the house and stop going stir-crazy during long winters.
Lake Arthur provides incredible views, especially when covered in snow and ice, perfect for winter hikes. Take the family to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities, such as playing a rousing game of ice hockey or gliding around the natural outdoor skating rink!
Get out on the ice and go boating on the lake or enjoy cross-country skiing with options for all skill levels. No matter what your family enjoys, they can get out of the house and soak up some vitamin D without going far from home.
9. Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming
In Wyoming, Curt Gowdy State Park offers some unusual winter activities, such as ice racing and ice sailing. Fremont Bay hosts the thrilling Boysen Ice Races every other Saturday during the winter, weather permitting.
Those who enjoy ice sailing flock to Curt Gowdy State Park’s Granite Reservoir to race across the frozen water using windsurfing sails and masts. Although, the best way to explore the wilderness on snowy days is by putting on a pair of snowshoes and following a trail.
Even though it gets cold in Cheyenne during the winter, that does not mean the city’s outdoor activities stop. Once used only for walking, the trails are now a winter paradise for activities such as tubing, sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and the relatively new phenomenon of fat biking.
With average annual snowfalls in excess of 50 inches and a variety of landscapes suitable for a wide range of winter activities, Curt Gowdy State Park provides easy access to a fun family adventure.
10. Chain O’Lakes State Park in Illinois
The Chain O’Lakes on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin truly becomes a winter wonderland for local hikers and skiers once the first snow falls. It’s part of a network of 15 lakes and is home to numerous state parks and recreational areas, all of which are heavily utilized by the local community.
When done enjoying leisurely snowmobiling, enjoy tobogganing, and if you are bringing the kids, they will love the bunny hills, where they can slide down on saucers and sleds.
Many outdoor activities, such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding, and hunting, are all available, with plenty of scenic vistas and winter sports to be had in this park thanks to its location next to three natural lakes.
With so many lakes, it makes sense try sticking your fishing poles in the icy waters for a fun challenge, especially at the local friendly annual ice fishing derby. Finish your time at the park with a game of ice hockey or spinning on the ice in figure skates.
11. Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s Franconia Notch State Park lives up to its reputation as one of New England’s most beautiful parks. Beautiful winter scenes, such as snow and ice creeping into the Pemigewasset River, make for a leisurely hike, especially if you want to find the waterfall frozen over for some epic photographs.
However, people love the access to thousands of miles of snowmobile trails linking the entire state. The park hosts direct access to Corridor 11, following interstate 93 through the White Mountains and Bretton Woods, and finally ends in Berlin.
Any level skier will find the trails at Franconia Notch Recreation Park enjoyable. This trail is great for beginners because of its gentle uphill grade and downhill speed potential if you are heading south to north.
Snowshoers are a common sight on the Franconia Notch Recreation Trail during the colder months. While the entire trail may be too much for some, the 3.3 miles between Flume Gorge and Lafayette Campground is easy walking with spectacular views of the Cannon Mountain range.
12. Aroostook State Park in Maine
Cross-country skiers love the 15-mile trail system in Aroostook State Park on Lake Echo, close to the Canadian border. In the winter, visitors can enjoy the lake by ice skating, and the surrounding trails can be used for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and even a six-mile slog on the Quaggy Jo peak.
In a remote part of the trail network, you will find several cozy huts where hikers and skiers can warm up by the fire and make new friends.
The top of Quaggy Jo Mountain makes for a strenuous snowshoe journey along a packed 6-mile snowshoe trail. Sledders will have no problem finding places to drive down a hill while the lake becomes a skating rink.
Take time to enjoy all the activities by making a reservation for camping. Wake up to a day of snowmobiling on groomed route or try Nordic ski areas’ alpine views, or set up with your dogs for a sled race.
13. Kachemak Bay State Park in Alaska
Location: Homer, AK 99603
As the coldest location in the US, Alaska offers incredible options for winter sports in fantastic locations far away from crowds.
Kachemak Bay State Park has more than 400 thousand acres of mountains, glaciers, forests, and oceans. The bay’s twisted rock formations show evidence of plate movement, which creates exceptional scenery and tons of outdoor winter activities.
Find your favorite activity from a long list, including fishing, boating, kayaking, hiking, camping, packrafting, split boarding, and mountain sports.
Numerous marine species rely on Kachemak Bay add to the natural backdrop including sea otters, seals, porpoises, and whales all visible to tourists.
It is a great place to go hiking and camping due to the proximity to the water and the nearby forests and mountains. Also, there are miles of glaciers and snowfields above timberline for skiers and hikers to explore
The winter may mean less sunlight making for longer days, but that’s just more time to enjoy all the cold weather activities at state parks!
Whether you like sledding with the kids or snowmobiling over miles of land, you can find everything you need at a state park near you.
Winter sports are the best part of the cold months as they keep you connected to the sun and improve your health and mindset.
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