National Parks not too cold in February

Discussion in 'Travel' started by christopher_morgan|5, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. We are going to take a trip in the west in mid February and have always been interested in Bryce Canyon. I wonder how bracing the temperature is at that time of the year and if we could hike without bundling up. Are there other NPs that we should consider?
  2. Parts of Bryce are over 9000 ft. It's one of the few NPs where they run the snow plows so you can visit year round but it can be very cold in February. I was there in early April 2008 and it was around 20 in the morning with snow all around. By 2pm it had warmed up to 50-60. You definitely need to be prepared to falling snow.
    The lower elevation parks like Death Valley or Saguaro would be quite nice in the winter.
  3. Bryce can be extremely cold in February. It is also dangerous to hike, because of ice.
    I would suggest either Zion or Capitol Reef (if highway 12 is open over Boulder Mtn).
  4. Give this a spin, maybe you'll find something that can narrow down your search:
    According to this map I have, there are over 388 parks administered by the National Park Service. They've got spots clear on out to American Samoa. You'll find something. There are a handful in the Caribbean that probably don't have a lot of snow.
    What about Canyon de Chelly National Monument? There was a photographer by the name of Laura Gilpin who did a fair amount of work there. Maybe that would be a good spot. I don't know if it snows, but it's desert; so, maybe, maybe not.
    Or, what about Arches? There was a writer by the name of Edward Abbey (?) who wrote a book, I think it was "Desert Solitaire," I think I read it about 15 years ago. He was stationed over at that park for a while. More people go there now that he wrote the book, but I bet it's not overflowing in February.
    I think someone told me that some movies and commercials get filmed over there every so often, but I don't know if that is true.
    I bet if you pick a small one that has maybe a two-lane road going to it, there will be about nobody over there on a weekday.
    What about Tuzigoot National Monument? I have no idea what's there, but I can't think of ever hearing anyone say, "Load up the Winebago, Mildred! We're going to party down at Tuzigoot!" Probably nobody there, which puts it on the short list.
  5. Many thanks to all of you who have contributed answers to my question. I deeply appreciate the information and your willingness to help. You've been wonderful. Now we can come up with a great trip, and hopefully great photos to match.
  6. Lots of the western parks are at higher elevations, which will make for cold weather in Feb.
    Bryce - the entrance is above 7000 ft and the drive south thru the park gets over 9000 ft - there will be snow, and you should expect temps to be below freezing most of the time and much colder at times. It is also subject to strong winds.
    Zion - the canyon is around 3-4000 ft, and while it snows sometimes, the valley floor usually doesn't have snow and when it does, it isn't extreme. Expect the average low to be around freezing, high in the 50s. The high country in Zion will have snow - same elevation as Bryce.
    Capitol reef - pretty much the same elevation as Bryce.
    Grand Canyon - north rim is closed in winter. South rim is at 7000+ ft and sometimes has snow, will be cold (teens in AM, 30s/40s in PM), and it's often windy on the plateau.
    Sedona - nominally 4-5000 ft (varies quite a bit) and gets snow in small quantities. Expect AM lows in the 20s, infrequently colder. Afternoon high around 50. Picturesque with snow, not as cold as Grand Canyon, might be a candidate.
    Death Valley - warmest place you'll find in the west in Feb - you can expect above-freezing temps 100% of the time. Go online to NPS website for the park and various other websites devoted to the valley to see if it interests you.
    Farther north, the coast would be the place to find warmer winter temps. However, the Califonria, Oregon, Washington coast will also have some pretty ugly weather, too. If the rain and coastal fog doesn't put you off, the Redwoods Nat'l Park in CA, anywhere along the Oregon coast, the Columbia River gorge, and coast Washington might be good locations. Not classic western red rock geology, but very good shooting locations.
  7. Tuzigoot is a Sinaguan pueblo area, ruins, some reconstruction, and a marsh area. One of a number of interesting NPS areas in the vicinity of Flagstaff and Sedona. There is some potential in the area for winter storms and cold weather ("cold" kind of defined by one's home location I'd expect someone from Minneapolis-St. Paul wouldn't call it cold). Even portions of Death Valley or the surrounding mountains can be wintery but the main tourist areas would be pleasnat. Joshua Tree is pleasant that time of year, can be windy and maybe cool. Last year there was some snow which made for some really uncommon picture opportunities..
  8. I concur with Bob. The coastal areas can be very challenging and also rewarding for great photo ops. Storms come and go, but the light what gives you some very unusual opportunity for pictures.
  9. Southern Arizona (Saguaro, Chiricahua) and New Mexico (e.g. Gila Cliff Dwellings, White Sands) are excellent choices if you want to avoid snow. Big Bend in TX as well. Big Bend offers excellent hiking opportunities this time of the year.
  10. Get yourself a big parka, toque, hiking poles, thremo flask with hot coffee, and some instep crampons. You'll have many more options. Embrace winter, don't try to avoid it.
  11. I like Yellowstone in Feb. The crowds are gone, good opportunities to capture wolves and coyotes, and great landscapes too. It can get a little chilly at times but the experience is worth it. There are snowcoach and snow mobile trips to get to the areas of the Park not accessible by car. Another big plus is that motel rates are a lot cheaper in winter. I know I'll be there!

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