The Most Serene Snow Destinations in the US

The mountains in Denali National Park and Preserve stay covered with snow year-round
The mountains in Denali National Park and Preserve stay covered with snow year-round | © Jeremy Graham / Alamy Stock Photo
Alexia Wulff

There’s something unusually calming about stark winter landscapes and snow-covered hills. Maybe it’s the absence of modern sounds – except for snow-crushing footsteps – or the mesmerizing beauty of prism branches reflecting in the sun. If you’re looking for a place to catch some R&R in the US while sipping a cup of hot chocolate, read on.

1. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Park

Crowds of people taking in the sight of the Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park
© Jacek Kadaj / Alamy Stock Photo
Yellowstone National Park is a nature lover’s retreat. Packed with abundant wildlife, geysers and acres upon acres of stunning beauty, it comes as no surprise that this gem is just as captivating when winter arrives. Snow-capped mountains, ice-glazed trees, frozen lakes and rolling white-blanketed hills make for one of the most relaxing destinations in the nation. Plus, have you ever seen a geyser in the winter? Experience this magical site by snowmobile or snow coach.

2. Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma

Natural Feature

The Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge surrounded by a landscape of mountains, trees, bushes and wildflowers
© Richard Smith / Alamy Stock Photo
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma is a spectacular range of 540m-year-old granite headlands, rolling grasslands and roaming bison. A popular spot for hunting and fishing, the rugged landscape of the Wichita Mountains also makes it a prime hiking and rock-climbing destination. But with rocky terrain comes visually stunning winter landscapes. White hills blend with white skies, marked by rows and rows of frozen trees.

3. Stowe, Vermont

Ski Resort

A church surrounded by colorful fall foliage in Stowe, Vermont
© RC Mosher / Alamy Stock Photo
While Stowe, set ablaze by red and orange foliage, is a stunning sight to see in the fall, it’s that much more alluring come winter. This quaint 225-year-old village is canvased in white, surrounded by the mountains of northern Vermont. Stowe has been a world-class skiing destination for decades, and it offers numerous activities. However, for those looking for a winter sanctuary, this enchanting snowy wonderland is it.

4. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Natural Feature

A stone-and-wood storefront in Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
© Rose-Marie Murray / Alamy Stock Photo

Just north of Charlotte, find Winston-Salem – a winter gem in North Carolina. A historic town – 18th-century Salem merged with mid-19th-century Winston – with old-world charm, it takes pride in its festive spirit and holiday cheer. While the average snowfall is only 7in (18cm) per year – the average US city gets 26in (66cm) per year – when a storm hits, this town becomes a winter spectacle, a vision best seen during a candlelight tour.

5. Deschutes National Forest, Oregon

Forest, Park

The snow-covered South Sister mountain in front of Sparks Lake, with a reflection of the mountain and surrounding landscape, in the Deschutes National Forest
© Avalon.red / Alamy Stock Photo
Along the east side of the Cascade Mountains, Deschutes National Forest is desolated beauty at its finest. More than 1.6m acres (647,000ha) of hills are hidden by snow, alpine and evergreen forests, and frozen lakes. It’s a popular hiking destination for viewing the volcanic mountains that form the crest of the Cascades, and the national forest’s winter scenery is just as memorable. Experience the serene lands via snowmobile or snowshoe, or embark on ski trails that wind through the park.

6. Glacier National Park, Montana

Park, Natural Feature

A view of Grinnell Lake, the snow-speckled mountains and forest in Glacier National Park, Montana
© Dan Breckwoldt / Alamy Stock Photo
When it comes to extraordinary snow destinations, it’s not easy to look past a park named for a massive body of ice. At Glacier National Park, explore the glacier-ridden mountains via the 700mi (1,127km) of trails that traverse through the terrain, but for unparalleled views of the park, head here during winter when rows of trees are painted white. Expect roaming mountain goats, glacier-carved peaks and snow-filled valleys among 1,584sqmi (4,103sqkm) of absolute peace.

7. Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Park

A person going dog sledding among the wintery landscape of Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska
© NPS Photo / Alamy Stock Photo
If there’s anywhere in the US that does winter well, it’s Alaska. Denali National Park is home to the tallest peak in the nation and has more than 9,375sqmi (24,281sqkm) of preserved natural beauty. The snow-capped mountains endure year-round, but winter is the most awe-inspiring and longest season in Denali. Take part in the winter festival, go mountaineering or dog sledding, ski, snowshoe and even camp under aurora-filled skies – that’s if you don’t mind the cold.

8. Ouray, Colorado

Park

Motorcycles and cars line the main street flanked by historic buildings in Ouray, Colorado, with the San Juan Mountains in the background
© Richard Broadwell / Alamy Stock Photo
What better way to experience winter’s solitude than surrounded by mountain peaks? Ouray is just that. The San Juan Mountains envelope the town, so the noise of the modern world is kept at a low and serenity at a high. First-timers should climb the Uncompahgre Gorge at the Ouray Ice Park or backcountry ski through the trails surrounding the town. And don’t miss the views of Ouray at night.

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