Many people don’t think of January as the month to make a getaway, which is why it really is the perfect month to just that. And as we near the halfway point, let us remind you that there is still plenty of time to take advantage of some unique opportunities that arise during the first month of any year. Here are five adventures you should not miss this month.
The Dunes Drive At White Sands National Park
While Dunes Drive is open year-round, January is considered optimal simply because of how “not” hot it is. Temperatures can reach above 100 degrees from May through August, but in January, there’s a comfortable range from the upper 50s into the low 60s, with little chance of rain.
White Sands National Park is located in southwest New Mexico, about one hour northeast of Las Cruces. From the park’s visitors center, the Dunes Drive is a scenic 16-mile out-and-back journey into an otherworldly gypsum dunefield, the world’s largest. Aside from the temperatures, you’ll find attendance to the park to be low, so you’ll also enjoy a feeling of solitude most never experience on the dunes.
Stargazing In Arches National Park
January in the Arches National Park is the perfect time to scan the heavens, as the park is mostly free of crowds and the skies are clear. That said, it is January, so don’t forget to dress the part.
Known for some of the darkest skies in the continental U.S., the Arches is one of the rare places in America where the human eye alone is enough to see some of the most brilliant stars. In January, the earth is positioned so that we are looking to the outside edge of the Milky Way galaxy. There are more hours of darkness this time of year, and Utah’s dry conditions make for ideal gazing.
Go Birding At Padre Island National Seashore
The Padre Island National Seashore is a premier destination to find nearly 400 different species of birds, of which about 100 are prominent during the month of January.
The park itself is located on what is called the Central Flyway, a migration route that birds have followed for centuries as they travel between North, Central, and South America. Through March, travelers can join experienced guides on free driving tours to see dozens of birds found in the park, including Sandhill cranes, snow geese, redhead ducks.
The park has even created a printable checklist you can take along as you seek out waterfowl, shorebirds, wrens, gulls, raptors, and sparrows.
Watch The St. Joseph Lighthouses Withstand Frozen Waves
January is the perfect month to see sights that you can’t see any other time of year, especially in Michigan. Michigan has more than 3,000 miles of shoreline, and located on that shoreline are dozens of lighthouses. As you would imagine, when January hits, the waves crash to the piers and frost over the lighthouses, creating remarkable ice formations that look like something out of a fairytale.
One of the more remarkable is the St. Joseph North Pier, located in the Lake Michigan town of St. Joseph, just west of Kalamazoo. The pier is actually home to two lighthouses.
The story goes that in 1907, the town extended its pier by 1,000 feet, which made the original, 19th-century lighthouse obsolete. In its place, the town built the North Pier Inner and Outer Lights and connected them with a catwalk. A walking pier has been added, which is open to the public. The best vantage points for photos appear to be from either Tiscornia Park or Silver Beach County Park.