While it can be nice to stay bundled up indoors during the cold winter months, sitting in front of the fire with a cup of mulled wine to hand, there’s only so much time you can spend hiding from the elements before things start to get a little cabin feverish. Besides the risk to your mental wellbeing, it’s also a terrible waste - snowfall utterly transforms many places, turning what may have been a relatively unremarkable scene for the rest of the year into a winter wonderland. Even places that are scenically striking in the height of summer can attain an extra level of beauty when dusted with snow. So if you’re keen to break out of your winter malaise and embark on a winter holiday, we have some absolutely gorgeous locales for you to choose from.
It doesn’t get much more classically beautiful than the peaks of the Teton Range. Winter brings a stark solemnity to the already majestic landscape of Grand Teton, creating a gloriously monochromatic palette that plays to the strengths of this pristine wilderness. Keep in mind that many roads will not be accessible at this time of the year - if you really want to discover the best of what Grand Teton National Park has to offer, you need to strap on some snowshoes and strike out on foot.
With the broad Shenandoah Valley and River to the west and the gently rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont to the east, Shenandoah National Park is a soft and verdant country in the warmer months. While the green disappears as winter closes in, Shenandoah’s exquisitely delicate nature is actually accentuated by winter snows. Taking the Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains is a great way to experience the park’s beauty - just be aware that conditions can turn harsh, due to the high altitude.
When most people think of California’s soaring Redwood forests, it’s with the warm light of summer filtering through the far distant leaves. But if anything, winter emphasizes the immense size of these massive trees, as their trunks soar high above the white blanket of snow. General’s Highway will take you through both Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks, on a journey among giants. If you’ve never visiting the Redwood forests before, make sure you stop to see General Sherman, the largest tree in the world at 83.8 meters tall and 7.7 metres across.
Some would be surprised to hear that it snows at all among the hoodoos of the Utah desert but snow it does, transforming the already alien landscape into something even more unfamiliar. There are a number of Utah’s landscapes that could have made it on to this list for the same reason, but it’s hard to beat the crazily jagged rock formations of Bryce Canyon National Park. When dusted with snow, the hoodoos turn into gnarled bicolored spires, the red rock contrasting sharply with winter’s white powder.
This is the type of country that people were imagining when they coined the phrase ‘winter wonderland’. The 48 mile drive from Stowe to Rochester is utterly magical: boutique shops line the way, offering winter comforts like cider, coffee and chocolate, while either side of the road the countryside stretches out, unbelievably picturesque beneath its thick blanket of snow. Rustic would be a good word to describe this route and the shops you’ll find dotted along it - this old time atmosphere combines with deep winter snows to create an absolutely charming experience.
There’s something soothing about traveling along the banks of a river regardless of the season, but there’s no question that the Payette River Scenic Byway really comes into its own as winter closes in. This 112 mile drive follows the Payette River until it empties into Lake Cascade - if you can, take some time to get out of the car and go exploring in the Cascade Mountains area. 44 miles of groomed cross country skiing trails and hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails await the the avid winter adventurer.
Yosemite is absolutely stunning at pretty much every time of the year imaginable but winter does bring a special kind of beauty to this magnificent park. Be aware that some roads will be closed over winter, but those that head into Wawona and Yosemite Valley are kept clear so that visitors can enjoy ice skating, skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, all within the majestic setting of this world renowned wilderness. Fishing in the glistening Merced River is another popular way to enjoy the winter months in Yosemite National Park.
Regardless of where you’ll be heading on your winter adventure, once you’ve flown to the general area you’ll need a vehicle to take you the rest of the way. Booking with AirportRentals.com makes your car rental experience simple, straightforward and as hassle-free as possible. Start planning your winter wonderland getaway