Remember the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” scene when the Griswold family pulls into Wally World, and the park is closed? Let’s go ahead and avoid that one. Most national parks are open year-round, and you can plan an impromptu or well-researched visit easily. There are a few, however, that experience seasonal hour changes and weather that limits access to a good portion of the park.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park doesn’t open until June in some years, as snowpack and plow progress dictates when the road opens. Just ask my dad about our first attempt at Glacier. He had no idea that this road was closed, despite bragging about it the entire 14-hour drive to Montana. Luckily for him (and our family as a whole), you can still visit the east or west entrance in the winter. We camped on the west side then drove to East Glacier for a day. While we still enjoyed the trip, postponing it a few weeks would have opened the opportunity to drive the entire road.
And let’s not forget the latest edition of bad politics and government shutdowns that can also block your visit. Several parks are completely closed or abandoned by all staff during these times, so it’s best to go elsewhere during a shutdown.