15 best winter road trip destinations

So many of the world’s most spectacular winter road trip destinations are scattered across the expansive, ever-changing landscape of the United States. With so many things to do and places to see, can you think of a better way to explore the wonders of the season than by hitting the road in a cozy van with your favorite people? 

Below is our list of the top 15 places to visit this winter across the country to get you in the mood to explore. Grab your warmest clothes, gather your loved ones, and get ready for a breathtaking winter road trip across the country! Explore our vans and take off on an unforgettable winter adventure.

1. Aspen, Colorado

Aspen is one of the most popular winter vacations in the USA. With its picturesque landscapes, luxurious resorts, and vibrant winter festivities, you and your crew will have plenty to do, including:

  • Skiing and snowboarding on Aspen’s world-class slopes
  • Snowshoeing through magical winter landscapes
  • Ice skating at one of the city’s many public rinks 
  • A visit to Maroon Bells, two majestic peaks located just outside of Aspen and easily reached by van
  • Guided dog sledding trip through Aspen’s snowy trails
Source: CNN A Non-skier’s Guide to Aspen

2. Lake Tahoe, California

Thousands of travelers flock to Lake Tahoe in the summer to hike or swim in the turquoise blue waters. What many don’t know is that the stunning alpine basin is actually one of the great places to visit in winter in the USA! It’s only in winter that you can catch the snow-capped mountain range reflecting on the crystal-clear lake; a serene ambiance impossible to capture during the busy summer months. Enjoy activities like:

  • Sledding and tubing at one of the area’s ski resorts with designated slopes, providing hours of fun for both kids and adults 
  • Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on Lake Tahoe’s serene, wooded trails that accommodate all skill levels
  • Snowmobiling with a guide is a great way to explore the scenic backcountry of Lake Tahoe
  • Rejuvenate after an active day in a natural hot spring 
Source: Travelocity

3. Stowe, Vermont

Looking for some East Coast road trip ideas? Stowe is a classic New England winter wonderland with plenty of wintry things for the whole family to do, including:

  • Visit Smugglers Notch State Park for winter activities like hiking and snowshoeing
  • Stroll through Stowe Village and admire its quaint covered bridges, cozy eateries, traditional shops 
  • Skiing and snowboarding the diverse terrain at Stowe Mountain Resort is a must on your winter road trip, no matter your skill level
  • Spend an afternoon at the Vermont Ski & Snowboard Museum and appreciate the history and culture of winter sports 

New England is a magical destination to explore during the cold season. If you’ve got the time, we suggest spending a few days in Vermont’s most charming town. Head over to our blog and discover more to do in Stowe!

4. Acadia National Park, Maine

If what you’re envisioning on your winter road trip is frozen lakes, snow-covered trees, and abundant winter wildlife sightings, Acadia National Park should be on the top of your list. Not only is it ideal for tranquil winter hikes and nature photography, you can also: 

  • Drive along Ocean Drive for marvelous views of the sea from your warm van
  • Snowshoe the wintry paths of Gorham Mountain and Cadillac South Ridge
  • Ice fish at Jordan Pond 
  • Birdwatch at Schoodic Point to see eagles, owls, and razorbills (to name a few)
  • Visit the iconic Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse 
Source: Downeast.com

5. The Berkshires, Massachusetts

Another great East Coast road trip idea is to spend a weekend in the artsy, vibrant, and breathtaking Berkshires. It’s an ideal destination with activities for the whole family, such as:

  • Skiing and snowshoeing the slopes of Berkshire East, Ski Butternut, and Jiminy Peak
  • Take an art class at the Norman Rockwell Museum or view art at MASS MoCA 
  • Catch live music any day of the year at the Lion’s Den at the Red Lion Inn 
  • Visit Berkshire Mountain Distillers on any Friday or Saturday during the winter for a tour and tasting of local whiskey 

6. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park is a must-visit destination on a winter road trip with your loved ones, known for its majestic mountain views, winter wildlife spotting, and snow coach tours. Aside from its jaw-dropping scenery, there are lots of things to keep everyone busy, like:

  • Cross-country skiing on Going-to-the-Sun road, only accessible during winter on foot
  • Taking a guided winter wildlife tour in search of elk, bighorn sheep, moose, and wolves
  • Surprising the kids with a snowy sleigh ride at Bar W or Cripple Creek Horse Ranch
  • Going fat tire biking at the Whitefish Bike Retreat Lodge and Campground

7. Door County, Wisconsin

Experience the warmth and charm of Door County’s quaint towns, like Ephraim and Sister Bay, while still adorned with holiday decorations. Don’t miss these unique things to do:

  • Check off a bucket list item at Newport State Park, where you can view the spectacular Northern Lights
  • Enjoy a tasting at Door Peninsula Winery, the region’s most famous winery 
  • Go sledding on Hill 17 at the Peninsula State Park Golf Course
  • Join a candlelight hike at Sturgeon Bay’s Fire And Ice Festival in February

8. The Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon in winter is a magnificent display of fiery red stone partially covered in bright white snow. With fewer crowds and peaceful trails, your group will love having the iconic landmark all to yourselves! Make sure to add the following activities to your agenda:

  • Sign up for an unforgettable helicopter ride over the snowy canyon
  • Take a ride back in time on the Grand Canyon Railway, open year-round
  • Have a pint at Squire Resort’s cozy pub before a game at the indoor bowling alley 
  • Hike the rim in search of wildlife such as elk, mule deer, and bighorn sheep
Source: AAA Visiting the Grand Canyon in Winter

9. Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park is one of the best winter destinations in the country, due to its diverse landscape of rainforests, mountains, thermal hot springs, and rocky beaches. It’s great for groups who love nature and want to: 

  • Rent a beachside cabin at Hobuck Beach Resort in Neah Bay for prime winter storm viewing
  • Hike the watery Hoh River Trail that cuts through the park’s incredible, lush rainforest
  • Join a snowshoe tour at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and head up to Hurricane Hill if you’re feeling adventurous 
  • Visit the Salmon Cascades Overlook at the Sol Duc Falls to watch as salmon jump over the waterfall on their journey upstream

10. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe’s snow-covered adobe buildings, vibrant art scene, and wild nature make this easily one of the best winter vacations in the USA. There is something for everyone to try in this enchanting town, like:

  • Ski, sled, snowboard, and more at the Santa Fe National Forest
  • Relax and detoxify under the stars in the area’s multiple, steaming hot springs, like Ten Thousand Waves 
  • Spend a day strolling Canyon Road, home to more than 100 galleries, shops, and restaurants
  • Drink a traditional hot chocolate at award-winning cafe Kakawa
  • Spark your creativity at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, a must-see while in town
Source: 5280 Denver’s Mile High Magazine

11. Traverse City, Michigan

The wintry atmosphere of Traverse City, heightened by snow-covered streets and twinkling outdoor lights, made it one of our preferred stops on a winter road trip. Aside from excellent dining and beautiful lake views, consider:

  • Checking out the Traverse City Winter Microbrew and Music Festival in February
  • Snowshoeing along the lakeshore at Sleeping Bear Dunes
  • Taking the family on an unforgettable hot air balloon ride above Lake Michigan
  • Bringing the kids to the Great Lakes Children’s Museum for fun interactive exhibits and hands-on activities
  • Taking part in a memorable snowshoe, wine, and brew tour just north of the city

12. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is a breathtaking example of nature at its most brilliant. From the iconic Old Faithful geyser to its bubbling hot springs, from vast meadows of wildflowers to thundering waterfalls, it’s a destination that everyone should experience at least once. Escape to Yellowstone during the winter to avoid crowds and witness its abundance of wildlife. Take advantage of extraordinary adventures like:

  • A sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge, where thousands of elk spend the winter
  • A guided snowshoe tour with a wolf ecologist to spot the predators in their natural habitat
  • A quick ride in the van to Hot Springs State Park for both thermal baths and views of the park’s bison herd
  • A journey on the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort aerial tram up Rendezvous Peak for delicious waffles and spectacular vistas at Corbet’s Cabin

13. Newport, Rhode Island

One of the loveliest places to visit in the winter, Newport is an ideal stop on your family road trip. The Gilded Age mansions and the pleasant sound of crashing waves against the rocky coast are enough to lure any traveler, but there’s still so much more to do in this historical town. Newport offers plenty of unique experiences that everyone will love, including:

  • A guided goat hike at Simmons Farm, where you will have the chance to walk your own goat on a leash
  • Ice skating at Newport Harbor Island Resort 
  • Boat tours in Narragansett Bay to witness harbor seals relaxing on the rocks
  • A truly unforgettable meal together in a heated igloo overlooking the bay

Extend your trip this winter by checking out our guide on what to do in New England

Source: We3Travel.com

14. Bend, Oregon

Discover the beauty of Bend against a backdrop of the immense, snow-capped Cascade Mountains. The region affords stunning views, making it an ideal destination for a winter road trip. While you’re there, make sure to check off these bucket list activities:

  • Take a scenic 30-minute drive north for all-level hiking at Smith Rock
  • If you’re planning a February winter road trip, don’t miss the vibrant Bend Winterfest showcasing music, rides, arts and crafts, and delicious bites
  • Go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling at Mount Bachelor, Central Oregon’s largest ski resort
  • Sip on local brews at one of the many breweries and tap houses 
  • Check out live music at Volcanic Theatre Pub
  • Ice skate at one of three festive rinks in the city

15. The Poconos, Pennsylvania 

There is no winter escape quite like the Poconos. Aside from the obvious snowy activities like skiing, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, and hiking, there are still more eclectic ways to spend your time in Pennsyvnia’s most popular mountain range, including:

  • Shop for pickles, lizards, or furniture at the supposed world’s largest (and definitely quirkiest) general store, Lehighton’s Country Junction
  • Spend the day in a swimsuit at Kalahari hotel’s indoor water park
  • See a play at the historic Shawnee Playhouse, which opened its doors in 1904
  • On a Christmas road trip? Take the kids for a ride with Santa on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway
  • Groove to some authentically good jazz at the Deer Head Inn 
Source: Philadelphia Magazine

Prepping for your Greenvans winter road trip

Winter road trips require a bit of preparation. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth adventure with your loved ones through the country’s many winter wonderlands.

Tips to plan your route

When starting to plan your route for your upcoming winter road trip, it’s important to think ahead. The team at Greenvans knows the ins and outs of road-tripping in any season, and we understand what questions you might have while preparing for your journey.

First thing first, decide which destinations top your list, and build out the itinerary from there. Consider how long you want your winter vacation to be to determine the distances you’re able to travel. From there, include the following tips into your planning:

  • Consider scenic byways and avoid peak holiday rush hours
  • Incorporate rest stops and local attractions
  • Stay informed of any weather changes that might affect your route
  • Download apps like Waze to keep you aware of any road closures 

What to pack for your winter road trip 

When packing for your winter road trip, consider the activities your family will want to take part in. If winter sports are a must, remember gear like skis and books. You’ll also want to include:

  • Weatherproof coats, warm socks, warm hats, snow pants, and thermal underwear
  • Snacks, movies, music playlists, and audiobooks 
  • Blankets and pillows for extra comfort during long drives

Stay safe on winter roads

When traveling through harsh weather conditions, putting safety first is critical. Before hitting the road, make sure to check the brakes, fluids, and battery so you’re sure that the vehicle is optimized for winter travel. In addition, winter tires provide superior traction on icy roads, so make sure to check your vehicle’s tire options before renting.

Staying informed with weather updates is equally essential to avoid hazardous situations. We recommend carrying a winter emergency kit which includes jump starters, flares, and extra food and water. Not sure where to start? Check out what we think is the best van for a two-week tour

Make your winter road trip unforgettable with Greenvans 

Renting a van for your winter road trip brings lots of benefits: comfort, ample space, and the opportunity to enjoy the journey as a team. Renting with Greenvans gives you 24-hour access to our team of road trip experts, so you’ll feel secure knowing that anything you need while on your journey is just a phone call away.

Whether it’s exploring snowy landscapes or strolling through a wintry village, a 15-passenger van is the perfect way to make the most of the journey and create cherished memories along the way.


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