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Warm places this Winter to Hike?


Mohican
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My son and I are planning a 7-10 day trip this January or February and looking for someplace out west to hike where it'll be warm duriing the day.  Prefer areas with mountains, canyons and petroglyphs.  Last winter trip we did was in January to Death Valley, along with Alabama Hills and Valley of Fire in Nevada.  Death Valley is a beautiful place to spend time in January- terrific weather and not crowded.   So far, we're considering Arizona, New Mexico and Texas locations - would appreciate any suggestions!  Thanks

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Big Bend, TX - including Big Bend Ranch SP.

I do lots of backpacking in California's Los Padres NF in winter. It has flowing creeks, shady camps, waterfalls, and ocean views besides the things you mentioned. Somewhere along the Condor Trail would be good.

Edited by toejam
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  • 6 months later...

The low desert is best which includes parts of the Mojave, Chichihuan and Sonoran.  Water is an issue and needs to be carried a lot of the good places.  It makes for short overnight trips and lots of day trips with truck support.  

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thanks for suggestions.  we may be moving trip back to mid or late march which will help some with the weather.  suggestions for best desert wildflower blooms at that time??

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Go by elevation.  In Death Valley they usually start in late Feb at sea level to 1,000 feet when there is moisture.  By late March the blooms start at say 3,000 feet or a little higher. 

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  • 2 months later...

If you're willing to go all the way Mexican Border I suggest take in Guadalupe and Carlsbad Caverns NP's  too. If you're coming from the north which it's assumed you are you can get some good Feb hiking in both these places. Nothing uber LD but none the less interesting for  long weekend and maybe greater duration trips. At Carlsbad there is some above ground hiking but the best hiking magic IMO is below the surface something we don't normally associate with hiking.

Id throw in the ring with the other options offered Bandelier and  Gila Cliff Dwellings NM's  and Saguaro and Joshua Tree NP's. Some of the places are in the same generally close enough area that you can break up the trip into different diversity of places without sacrificing. 

Same as above. Another option are the NP's in southern Utah. Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef,  and Zion can offer 2-3 day hikes at low enough elevations where you don't have to be in the highest elevations to feel like you're in the mountains. Arches, and especially Bryce and Zion with snow cover up higher or on the formations  are truly breathtakingly beautiful  without the heat and largely vacant  of the masses in winter.

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  • 5 months later...

Southern Utah can be really cold in spring and fall, not to mention winter.  I was visiting Canyon de Chelley, AZ in winter and the high was 10 degrees with high winds.  I have been to the South Rim at GC in snow.  Be careful with the desert and elevation.  We did a Feb canoe trip on the lower Colorado River at a couple hundred feet in elevatioin not that far from Yuma.  It was cold the whole time with heavy frost every night.  There was little fuel around to build a fire.  Little protection from wind. 

Jan and Feb are really dark with short days and low sun angle. 

Head for the low desert, or consider months like March or November. 

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Other places to do winter hikes are on the Lone Star, Ozark Highlands, and Ouachita Trls. The OHT in winter is not the hard core high elev hike elsewhere. You'll get freezing temps with warming during the day. The views, escarpments,  and pour offs really open up after the leaves have fallen. In winter you'd have any of these trails to yourself. OHT has many established sites with fire rings and stone chairs perfect for gazing into the camp TV on a chilly night. Makes one feel alive.

Another winter hike/paddle can be had at Congaree NP in SC(check water levels first), Everglades NP, and on the Mountains to Sea Trail involving a 100+ mile paddle of the Neuse River an acceptable alternate to completing the MST. 

There would also be segments of the AZT open in winter. Sky Islands prolly off limits though. GC NP during winter when the heat and crowds are gone with cold temps but with a frosty light snow turn the GC into another wonderland of possibilities. I love going to the GC in winter as at the rims it can be below freezing descending through dry pow and eventually entering the floor where the temps and conditions can be radically different *snow free and 65* during the day. Celebrating a turkey day or Christmas or New Year at the GC is a wonderful experience. And, you might get good enough road conditions to enjoy the nearby Wave or a frozen Buckskin Gulch(AMAZING in winter!) or stops at ZION,  Arches, Canyonlands, Capital reef and Escalante(before its gone!). Arches with snow is AMAZING! NO CROWDS.

All in all there's cold and then there's deep cold/deep winter. With a favorable  weather window all these places, or areas of these places, can be supremely  acceptable.   

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Other places can include the CA and OR coast. There are great segments of the Cali and OR Coastal Trls that can be acceptable for winter walk abouts. The SP systems and Nat Seashores and Marine Sanctuaries and WA's of these states along the coast can be phenomenal. With a 5-7 day favorable(non storm) weather window it's not totally unheard of to hike the CA Lost Coast in winter. 

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The FT isn't the only place to go for a winter hike! 

Even the Foothills Tr in upstate SC can be hiked in winter snow free with a favorable weather window. Even if the white stuff does fly it doesn't usually last long and isn't typically that deep. Beside the white stuff in 50* day time hiking weather with the leaf off just makes the views open up and become more scenic and enjoyable to the heat and humidity. The crunching footprints left behind is a testament that we're WILLING to not be just  fairest weather hikers. Identifying plants and animal's tracks in winter can be a welcoming aside that expands the joy.  

Want another suggestion? Head to Maui Haleakala NP or to the Big I and Hawaii Volcanoes NP. or for a shorter romp the Kalalalu Tr on Kauai OR DO THEM ALL TURNING IT INTO A HI HIKING EXTRAVAGANZA! BTW, by far these aren't the only multi day hikes in HI!

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