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A Plan for All Seasons

The advantages of going somewhere during the off-season are simple—better deals, smaller crowds —and they derive from the premise that off-peak travel must involve lowered expectations and certain compromises. A few rare places, however, hold hidden allure in the quiet months: castles on a rainy day, fishing-boat fairy lights, the braying of amorous penguins. As local experts make clear in the following year-round selection, you don't need to go peak to hit the heights.

PHOTO BY PAT O’HARA/GETTY IMAGES

MARCH
Olympic National Park, Wash.

Most of this enormous park’s 3 million annual visitors arrive during summer for hiking, kayaking and other warm-weather adventures. In winter and early spring, says park ranger Janis Burger, this wild place is imbued with a beauty that only a lucky few get to see.

“The park’s Hurricane Ridge is so named because of the high winds that blow mostly in winter. But on a blue-sky day after a fresh snow, the crystals on the surface are sparkling and the trees are often sculpted in white. They look like upside-down ice cream cones. There are animal tracks. You’re gazing down at forested river valleys, with very rugged peaks spread out 160 degrees in front of you, past a large portion of a park that’s almost the size of Rhode Island and is 95 percent wilderness.

“You need a good sleeping bag, but it’s really cool to be up there at night. The moonlight is bright on the snow when there’s a full moon. Not many people do it, so you’re going to have a whole mountain to yourself.”

One Response to “A Plan for All Seasons”

  1. Sydney Says:
    December 6th, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Port De Grave, my hometown! So many wonderful childhood memories, and my favorite of all was the first boat lighting, the whole community was in awe. Love that our tradition has become so well known!!

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