Spring Has Sprung in Many of the Nation's National Parks
26 Feb 2015 07.36.14 PM
Low snowfall and unseasonably high temperatures in the western states have made for some unusual occurrences in many of the nation’s national parks. Many parks are experiencing temperatures 30 or 40 degrees warmer, rain instead of snow, or no precipitation at all. Visitors are making the most of these temperatures and are getting an early start on spring activities including camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, and more. Here are some of the national parks that are experiencing the unseasonal conditions and activities you can do to enjoy a visit there.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park, like much of the western United States, has suffered low levels of snow so far this winter. As a result, many of the normal winter activities are unavailable; the nordic/cross-country ski center is closed as well as Badger Pass ski resort until they “receive the appropriate amount of snow.” So low was the snowfall in the first few months of winter that Yosemite Falls stopped flowing throughout January. Fortunately, recent rainfall has caused the falls to start flowing again, and Bridalveil Falls, Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls are flowing equally well. Warm temperatures means many of the hiking trails are accessible and bikes are available for rental.
Unlike its neighbor park to the north, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park is experiencing fairly normal winter conditions; temperatures remain in the 20’s and 30’s and snowfall is moderate. While snowmobiles are restricted in Yellowstone due to extremely low snow conditions, visitors to Grand Teton can still enjoy winter activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Take a ranger-led snowshoe hike or venture off on your own on the popular winter trail that spans from Taggart Lake to Signal Mountain Lodge. The trail is machine-groomed every Friday and most Mondays. Visitors can stay in resorts like Jenny Lake Lodge for a more luxurious experience.
As mentioned above, Yellowstone National Park is experiencing drastically low snow measurements. The unseasonably high temperatures and lack of snow has forced the park to close access to roads from West Yellowstone through Madison Junction to Old Faithful where large parts of the pavement are uncovered. Not only that, but Yellowstone’s grizzlies are waking up about a month earlier than usual, and the warmer weather is again to blame. Still, those visiting Yellowstone right now won’t be disappointed. Other interior park roads that are groomed for commercial and non-commercially guided snowmobiles and snowcoaches are covered by enough snow to make travel safe and enjoyable.
Sequoia National Park
January was a busy month for Sequoia National Park with visitation up 36 percent compared to January of 2014—35,569 visitors versus 26,055 from last year. What is bringing the rush of additional visitors? Lack of snow. With temperatures significantly higher than normal, temperatures sometimes reaching the 50s, people are getting started early on spring activities in Sequoia. Go hiking, camping, horseback riding, rock climbing and participate in a number of activities you can’t normally do this time of the year.
Olympic National Park
Like many of the western national parks, Olympic National Park in Washington State has had a record low amount of snowfall so far this winter. While the annual average by mid-February is 88 inches, only 7 inches was measured this year. As a result, visitors have already transitioned to spring and summertime activities, including hiking, biking, kayaking and surfing. If you’re thinking about going consider staying at the historic Lake Quinault Lodge or in one of the many campgrounds that are open year-round.