National Parks Part 3

If you love journeys that require Snowshoes, the National Parks and Forests throughout every region of the United States offer the adventure you crave. Whether you find solace using Snowshoes for hiking or jogging through pristine forests or enjoy a group Snowshoe under the moonlight that ends near a roaring bonfire, set your destination for a National Park near you.

Many National Parks loan beginners Snowshoes to try the sport. Once you get a taste for this versatile sport, don’t be surprised if you prefer Snowshoes of a higher caliber. There are a variety of Snowshoes available depending upon your motivation whether it is walking, jogging or climbing. Once you try Snowshoes, you suddenly find winter adventure no matter where you go.

Imagine the moonlit views of frozen and running waterfalls. Mountain peaks so high you crane your neck to see where the peaks end and the stars begin. Forests filled with massive trees surrounding you in serenity. Float across the snow feeling like you might take flight at any moment as you sail this magical land.

In part 3, the final installment of our National Parks series, it was admittedly difficult to narrow the list without leaving out equally worthy parks offering great opportunities to Snowshoe.

Denali National Park, Alaska

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Denali National Park offers something for every member of your Snowshoe family. If you find a ten-acre Snowshoe hike exciting, you will love Denali with its six million acres. Formerly known as Mt. McKinley, Mt. Denali is North America’s highest peak. Only expert Snowshoers with backcountry safety experience should attempt to scale Mt. Denali’s 20,310 feet.

Horseshoe Lake, Savage River Loop Trail, and McKinley Station Trails provide an easy way to explore Denali National Park.  If you want a more moderate route, try Rock Creek Trail, Gorge Creek or Tundra Trail Spur.

Looking for more challenging routes, Mt. Denali has quite a few trails. Eielson Alpine Trail, Bison Gulch and Sugar Loaf Ridge will definitely satisfy your appetite. With an aggressive elevation climb of 1,666 feet,  Mount Thorofare Ridge Loop provides 4.1 miles of lightly populated trails and should only be attempted by the most experienced snowshoer.

Due to its altitude, Mt. Denali has very thin air. Due to the higher elevation, your body will feel like it is working at a much harder than it may actually be at any given time.  Anyone with Asthma or respiratory difficulties should prepare for lower oxygen rates than normal. Mt. Denali is one of the world’s Seven Summits. Even moderate to hard Snowshoe trails require the skilled Snowshoe lover to use prudent measures and a higher level of awareness.

Know Before You Go

  • Snowshoe at lower altitude levels in the park first to get used to the decreased oxygen levels before ascending to higher elevations.
  • Extremely unpredictable weather makes warm clothing and face protection essential.
  • Dry, thin air makes carrying extra fluids essential.
  • Alert others to your whereabouts and estimated time of return and carry a map and/or GPS unit with you.

Trail Difficulty: Easy, Moderate, Hard, Difficult, Extreme

Pictured Rocks, National Lakeshore, Michigan


You have many options for Snowshoeing throughout Pictured Rocks National Park. Many folks choose to Snowshoe through the beautiful forests that border the North Trail. Wildlife including deer and fox might watch your silent journey through these heavily wooded forests, and they may grant you a glimpse at them.

One of the most unique sights in the world is found between Munising Falls and Sand Point. Located high above Lake Superior, ice falls and ice caves form as water seeps out of porous sandstone cliffs forming columns and curtains of ice that are yellow, white, blue or shades in between.

Spectacular views of these ice falls and caves are easily seen throughout your trek. Occasionally, ice caves form behind the falls and snowshoes offer the best access to explore these caves.  Looking out from behind the curtain is a unique experience that is not often seen on your typical winter adventures.

Know Before You Go

  • Wearing cleats with your Snowshoes helps prevent slips when exploring the ice caves and ice curtains.
  • Because Lake Superior is a deep-water channel, it is vital to avoid Snowshoeing on the lake itself. Use care near the shore, as ice shelves form that give way when you step on them.
  • Snowshoeing through the forest and ice caves range from easy to very difficult due to weather patterns.
  • Always leave your itinerary with others and carry a map or GPS for directions.

Trail Difficulty: Easy, Moderate, Hard, Very Difficult

Yosemite National Park Moonlight Snowshoeing


We end with what is arguably one of the world’s top five points of natural beauty. Yosemite National Park offers terrain and scenery of every type. Many folks have never heard of the backcountry areas of Yosemite and the areas northeast of the Yosemite Valley. Yosemite NP spans nearly 1200 miles, but most people only visit about seven miles in the Yosemite Valley. That leaves 95 percent of gorgeous wilderness lands free for activities like, say a Snowshoe trek!

Scouting trails lead to access points connecting most of the western and midwestern mountain ranges. Sierra National Forest lies just south of Yosemite and offers a vast playground for Snowshoers, ending in a little place called Sequoia National Park.

Head north from Yosemite, go through two and a half National Forests, veer a couple of stars to the right and you reach the Lake Tahoe National Forest just over 100 miles away.

If you are an avid, experienced Snowshoer and have the time and resources, consider a trip lasting two weeks or more and explore the vast scenery and pristine land masses among the Yosemite wilderness and the Sierra mountains. To paraphrase Ansel Adams, Yosemite’s stunning peaks and valleys reflecting glittering flashes of emerald green and the purest gold in every sunrise and sunset.

One highlight for the Snowshoe fans of any age or ability is the moonlight snow walks. You can enjoy this on your own, but a guided tour provides interesting Yosemite facts as well as practical winter tips. One of the best is the Full Moon Snowshoe Walk that takes place during the period when the moon reflects off the snow in the valleys below the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area.

Know Before You Go

  • Watch for recent rock slides and take care in areas known for flash floods, especially when temperatures are warming.
  • Be prepared for extreme temperature fluctuations. Layered clothing is especially important as you may encounter warm weather in the Yosemite Valley, but temperatures rapidly drop anytime throughout Yosemite.
  • Bring your fishing equipment and catch your dinner in the rapid waters of the Merced River.
  • Alert others to your whereabouts and estimated time of return and carry a map and/or GPS unit with you – especially in the backcountry.

Trail Difficulty: Easy, Moderate, Hard, Difficult, Extreme