Winter is coming and along with it are the ads promoting vacations in warmer places, such as Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean. But if you’re the kind of person who’d rather embrace the frosty season instead of escaping from it, you don’t have to go far. Here are some US winter destinations you’d enjoy:
Watch nature’s dazzling magic show at Yosemite National Park
All of Yosemite Valley is a wonder of nature, dotted with breathtaking landmarks almost anywhere you look. For most of the year, Horsetail Falls is just another landmark among its more remarkable neighbors. But for about two weeks in February, it occupies the spotlight and puts on a show at sunset. The waterfall transforms into what looks like a stream of fire running down El Capitan.
Known as “Firefall”, the phenomenon draws hundreds of visitors every night. It springs to life when the light of the setting sun hits Horsetail Falls at an angle that makes it glow like lava.
How Firefall looks varies from year to year, depending on how much water is flowing. This year was one of the best and looked like a solid ray of sun cleaving El Capitan. Last year, Horsetail Falls was almost dry, but the sunlight filled in the rest and created the illusion of there being a glowing waterfall.
Enjoy the Alaskan winter
Dreaming of a white, winter wonderland? Look no further than Alaska. The entire state is at its most beautiful in winter, so there are plenty of things to do there.
Sit back and take in the ivory landscape and sapphire skies, as you take the Aurora Winter Train. Or if you want to get the bird’s-eye view, hop on a small plane and go on a flightseeing tour. If you like to stay active, you can enjoy winter sports, such as back country ice skating, heliskiing, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding, fat tire biking, and ice climbing, as well.
Of course, your Alaska vacation would not be complete without seeing the northern lights. To see them, you have to plan your trip for September through March. You can potentially see the lights all over the state, but the most reliable area is Fairbanks, which is geographically under the “aurora oval”.
Catch a weird race at Death Valley National Park
You don’t have to be a fan of any kind of racing to find the Racetrack Playa interesting, and maybe even bizarre. A race is constantly happening here, and the participants are not people, animals, or vehicles, but stones. Yes, stones.
Until recently, the ‘sailing stones’ of Death Valley National Park were a complete mystery. If you make the long trek to the flat playa, you will see that plenty of large rocks have etched clear, meandering trails across the bumpy desert floor.
How do they move? Dozens of theories had been made since the 1940s, but the sailing stones were explained in 2014. During winter, thin sheets of ice form on the playa floor, which are then pushed by the wind across the slick, wet mud. As they move across the ground, the sheets of ice push rocks in front of them at a speed of up to five meters per minute, causing the rocks to leave tracks behind.
Winter is traditionally associated with death, but in the case of these places, winter brings wonderful things to life that were nondescript for the rest of the year. Don’t let the cold freeze your wanderlust, and experience these destinations when winter comes around.