Holly Jolly Things to Do this Yuletide
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening. A beautiful sight; we’re happy tonight…
No matter what your religion, culture or creed, the holidays are a magical time all over the country. America’s public lands offer ways to wander out into nature and forage for your own holiday mistletoe or make a preemptive strike (pun intended) on holiday calories by chopping down your own Christmas tree (contact your nearest National Forest; or one of the National Wildlife Refuges described below to find out how to get a permit) or join one of the scores of refuges and parks that take part in the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count. Birders know it as “the CBC” and it is one of the country’s longest-running citizen science projects. You’ll find several events listed below (or check Audubon’s Get Involved in the Christmas Bird Count page at the end of November).
Wherever you may live, you can probably find holiday traditions, activities, and events on federal public lands near you. Enjoy this sampling of holiday festivities to get you into the yuletide swing of things.
Bellingrath Home and Gardens
This area of Alabama is famous for its holiday lights. The Bellingrath Home and Gardens is on the National Register of Historic Places and offers a Magic Christmas in Lights program from Thanksgiving until the end of December. The giant Christmas in Alabama affair in nearby Grand Bay is also popular. Both offer more lights than you can imagine! If you plan it right you can start your holiday during daylight hours across the Mississippi state line with a walk at either Sandhill Crane or Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge (see description under Mississippi below).
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Work off those Christmas-season calories by cutting your own tree at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Kenai Refuge lets visitors cut one tree by hand per family between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Detailed information is available on the refuge web site. No fees or permits are required.
Hubbell Trading Post
On December 6 Friends of Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site will hold their free annual event, the annual Luminaria Night. More than 700 luminarias will be placed and lit on the grounds of the National Historic Site.
Tumacácori National Historical Park
The Tumacácori National Historical Park hosts La Fiesta de Tumacácori every year during the first full weekend of December, in recognition and celebration of the many cultures that were historically and presently associated with the Santa Cruz Valley. The fiesta features around fifty food and craft booths, continuous live entertainment and children's activities each day.
Blanchard Springs Caverns, Ozark National Forest
The Caroling in the Caverns program at Blanchard Springs is one of the most surreal—yet unique and memorable—ways to ring in the holiday cheer. The acoustics of the semi-dark, underground caverns lend to the incredible vocals and music of area folk musicians. The Caverns' last public tour will be at 12:30 p.m. on December 4-5, December 11-12, and December 18-19 but you can also book a tour for the cave throughout the year.
Sequoia National Park
In 1925, Charles E. Lee of Sanger, California, started a holiday tradition that continues to ring true every December—a Christmas program set beneath “the other national Christmas tree” known as the General Grant Tree. Mr. Lee, then secretary of the Sanger Chamber of Commerce, and Mr. R.J. Senior, president of the Chamber, conceived the idea of an annual ceremony. Mr. Lee wrote to President Calvin Coolidge, who designated the General Grant as the Nation's Christmas Tree on April 28, 1926. The Sanger Chamber of Commerce continues to sponsor the annual Christmas "Trek to the Tree" on the second Sunday of December at 2:30 p.m. For more information, contact them at (559) 875-4575.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is on every serious birder’s bucket list, and what better time to visit than during the annual Christmas Bird Count event? Be sure and check Yosemite’s fantastic birds web page, and if you are still ho-hum (and not ho-ho-ho) about Yosemite’s birds, watch the fun video, Study the Scientist: An Ornithologist. You can also delight in the annual Bracebridge Dinner, which transforms the already magical Ahwahnee Hotel Inn into a 17th century English manor and yuletide celebration. The Bracebridge Dinner is a four-hour pageant of classic carols, Renaissance rituals and entertainment.
Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
Witness the joys, pleasures and pastimes of the 1840s when you visit this isolated trading post for a holiday celebration. The spirit of the old west comes alive during the holiday season with wagon rides, games, toy making and other festivities set right in the midst of Bent’s Old Fort – an adobe fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail. The event begins Friday evening December 7 with candlelight tours of the fort and continues all through Saturday, December 8, culminating with another evening of candlelight tours. For evening tour reservations, phone (719) 383-5026.
2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, White River National Forest
Check in on the journey of this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree from Colorado's White River National Forest, where it was hand selected. After harvesting the Engelmann Spruce on November 2, the tree will visit communities and military bases across the country and is scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C. shortly after Thanksgiving.
Black Rock Lake
Located outside of Bethlehem, Connecticut — the Christmas town — is Black Rock Lake, a 21-acre lake surrounded by mature forest and home to such wildlife as deer, fox, rabbit, mink, osprey, turkey, and heron, just to name a few. After December 1 (or the first snow or ice accumulation) the reservoir area is closed. However, visitors are welcome to walk in and enjoy the beauty of the lake during daylight hours. Bring a picnic lunch and a thermos of hot cocoa and you’re set for a winter wonderland of wildlife viewing. Should conditions allow, you can snowshoe or cross-country ski the adjacent Black Rock State Park’s trail system. Finish the day by attending one of the many Christmas tree lighting ceremonies in the quaint, surrounding communities.
District of Columbia and Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area
National Christmas Tree at the White House
Although the National Christmas Tree Lighting lottery is closed, be sure to mark your calendars in early November for the 2013 lottery. Still want to participate in the magical sights and sounds of National Christmas Tree Lighting? There’s no need to miss the festivities! A live webcast of the event will be available at www.thenationaltree.org starting on December 6, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. (EST). PBS stations across the country will also air the show throughout the month of December. Plan to visit Santa’s Workshop. Located at the Ellipse (between the National Mall and the White House), Santa and his elves will be busy making toys in their workshop and welcome you from Saturday, December 8 - Monday, December 24. Check the National Christmas Tree Lighting Santa's Workshop page for details.
Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm
Oxon Hill, Maryland (Washington, D.C. area)
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
Vienna, VA (Washington, D.C. area)
Opt to take a short drive to Vienna, Virginia and enjoy the beauty, history, and sounds of the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. This time of year, the Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-A-Long shouldn’t be missed. This annual musical celebration hosts a performance by the United States Marine Band as well as the sing-a-long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs.
De Soto National Memorial
Once the site of Conquistador Hernando de Soto’s landfall in 1539, the De Soto National Memorial’s 26 acres offers visitors living history programs and special events throughout the year exploring Hernando’s odyssey for wealth and glory. On December 15, park visitors are treated to an outdoor winter luminary festival featuring music and a historic luminary walk along the park’s nature trails.
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
On December 1, join the National Park Service for a Winter Campfire and Night Hike, and a beautiful early winter evening with glowing stars overhead. Roast marshmallows over an open fire, drink delicious "ranger recipe hot apple cider", and walk along a forest trail. Discover new facts about the wildlife of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and their nocturnal habits. Reservations are required; please call 678-538-1200 to make your reservation, space is limited!
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
In the late 1800s, W.T. Chesser and his family settled a small island on the eastern edge of the Okefenokee Swamp – carving out a life in the often harsh conditions. Today, you can learn about the Chesser family and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge’s more than 400,000 acres of freshwater swamp. On December 8, celebrate the holiday season at the Chesser Island Homestead with a hayride, luminaries, refreshments, caroling, and live music. Discover the region's traditions as you tour a swamp homestead decorated with traditional homemade decorations. Stay warm by the bonfire while enjoying homemade cookies and cider.
Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii
“Mele Kalikimaka” is the thing to say when celebrating Christmas on the Hawaiian Islands. On Oahu, try the Honolulu City Lights tree lighting ceremony and concert, and on Maui, experience the Lahaina Banyan Tree Lighting Ceremony. While you’re on the islands, visit living volcanic monuments – Kīlauea and Mauna Loa – while exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Still active, these volcanoes continue to add to the island of Hawaii, shedding light on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and the beginnings of Earth. Looking to find a bit of winter in the tropics? At 13,677 feet, Mauna Loa is the most massive mountain on Earth. It can be wintery at the top even in June and requires wilderness skills and a permit throughout the year, or head over to Maui and Haleakala National Park where temperatures at the summit of 10,023 foot Haleakala can be 30 degrees cooler than the coast.
Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge
Celebrate the holiday season with the Friends of the Cache River Watershed and participate in the Christmas Bird Count on Monday, December 17. The Christmas Bird Count is an all-day census of early winter bird populations. Interested individuals of all skill levels are welcome to participate for a day to learn more about our region’s winter avian residents. For more information contact the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge.
Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
On November 30 and December 1, the birthplace of Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States, hosts A Christmas Past, a weekend of holiday season activities like horse-drawn rides, music and shopping.
Fort Scott National Historic Site
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Get A Taste of Christmas Past at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Feast on old time delectable favorites of Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, and Twelfth Night Cake, create special gifts for loved ones, and celebrate the holidays with stories and crafts.
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge
Work off those Christmas-season calories by cutting your own tree at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Maine. Moosehorn Refuge lets visitors cut two balsam fir or pine trees per person, starting at the end of November. Without the public harvest, the trees would have to be cut to maintain road visibility. Pick up a free permit from the refuge office before you cut.
Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Join Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge staff and volunteers for the annual Christmas Bird Count. Counting teams will cover about a third of Kent County on this day, including the refuge. Registration is required: (410) 778-9568.
Patuxent Research Refuge
Come to Patuxent Research Refuge for the Wildlife Holiday Bazaar. Make unique origami ornaments and hand-crafted cards or support the refuge and the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center by shopping for wild and not-so-wild new and gently used treasures at the National Wildlife Visitor Center.
Rydell National Wildlife Refuge
Work off those Christmas-season calories by cutting your own tree at Rydell National Wildlife Refuge! The Refuge has set aside two days for Christmas tree cutting: Saturday, December 1, and Sunday, December 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or if you prefer, try the seven miles of trails for snowshoeing or cross country skiing.
Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge
Join Friends of the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge for their Christmas Bird Count event on December 15 when they will count birds on the refuge and in the local area. Visit the refuge any time in December and snowshoe, hike, or cross-country ski the Blue Hill or the Mahnomen Trails.
Natchez National Historical Park
Join the festivities at Natchez National Historical Park’s Melrose Manor for a Christmas at Melrose. Immerse yourself in the charm and hospitality of an old-fashioned southern plantation at Christmas.
Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge
Get in the holiday spirit at Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge by making nature crafts such as evergreen swags, ornaments, unique center pieces, wall hangings, wreaths or birdfeeders using natural materials that the refuge provides (or that you have collected to share with others).
December is the perfect time to visit Mississippi Sandhill Crane and Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuges – the migratory birds are back for the winter (and the mosquitoes are gone)! Both Mississippi Sandhill Crane and Grand Bay Refuges have visitor centers to give insight to the nature of the area as well as interesting bird watching. For a festive road trip that combines the outdoors with the holidays, stop first at Mississippi Sandhill Crane and walk the C.L. Dees Nature Trail to view carnivorous plants including butterworts, pitcher plants and sundews. Your next stop should be the Mississippi Welcome Center for a walk on the Escatawpa Trail where you’ll see a bayou habitat. Finally, stop at the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge for an easy stroll on the Oak Grove Trail just off Bayou Heron Road, south of the headquarters building. The trail is a featured stop along the Mississippi Coastal Birding Trail and you may see scarlet tanagers, warblers and more.
If you plan it right, you can continue just across the Alabama state for more lights than you can imagine (visit the Alabama section above).
George Washington Carver National Monument
At George Washington Carver National Monument’s December 8 Holiday Open House, you’ll learn that Mr. Carver was more than just “the peanut man.” During the holiday season, the park will also offer the program Wonders of the Night Sky, and present two films - The Tuskegee Airmen and the Secret Soldiers of the Civil War.
Harry S. Truman National Historic Site
Like many of us, the Trumans spent the holidays catching up with family and friends in the comfort and warmth of home. The park maintains the home as it looked when Bess Truman died in 1982, so the Home is minimally decorated for the Christmas season. But from November 15 through January 7 you can visit the free Christmas with the Trumans exhibit which features holiday decorations and personal belongings used by the Truman family at their Independence home.The exhibit is at the Harry S. Truman Visitor Center at 223 N. Main Street, a few blocks from the Truman Home. You’ll need to stop here anyway to tour the Home — tickets are $4.00 per adult or free for children 15 and under. Download a copy of Harry Truman’s Christmas Traditions or while it is not on display this holiday season, the Truman collection includes a menorah that commemorates President Truman as the first world leader to recognize Israel as a new nation.
Redman Creek Recreation Area, Wappapello Lake
Redman Creek Recreation Area hosts the annual Festival of Lights Auto Tour from November 23 through December 31. You can help decorate the campsites or just drive through and enjoy the decorations and festive lights. The community event is free but voluntary donations are accepted to help offset the cost of the event and to raise money for a local organization.
Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site
At Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site you can join cowboys and cattlemen for a Victorian Holiday Open House. The elegantly decorated Kohrs family ranch house will reflect the holiday style of the Victorian-era.
Scotts Bluff National Monument
Visit Scotts Bluff National Monument on December 1 and enjoy an old-fashioned annual Christmas on the Prairie. Rangers will be in period dress as they teach visitors how to make five different ornaments and talk about life in the early days. There will also be live music and refreshments.
Homestead National Monument of America
At the Homestead National Monument of America, celebrate the winter traditions of people who lived on the Great Plains during the homesteading era. Events include the Winter Festival of Prairie Cultures or join the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ writing of A Christmas Carol, which homesteading children would have read at the Old Fashioned Christmas at the Freeman School. Then join park rangers to create ornaments from hedge apples and help decorate the school.
Foster Armstrong House, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
The holiday-decorated 1790 historic Foster Armstrong House is open for Old Fashioned Holiday Weekends with docent tours, book and craft sales. On the evening of December 1, the Montague Association for the Restoration of Community History (M.A.R.C.H) will lead candlelight tours. Or visit Millbrook Village, about 22 miles downriver where you can see Victorian-decorated village homes, join costumed guides, enjoy cooking demonstrations, children can try Victorian Christmas crafts, toys and games, and you may even hear carol-singing and Christmas reminiscences in the village church led by costumed members of the Millbrook Village Society.
Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway
Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway originates in downtown Santa Fe, the oldest capital in the United States. During the holidays, Santa Fe brings together Spanish, Native American and Old West traditions for its most romantic and charming season. Visit the Palace of the Governors, built in 1610, then walk around the plaza to enjoy a little southwestern style Christmas shopping or cuisine. Continue on the Scenic Byway to loop 15 miles through an aspen-evergreen forest to the Santa Fe Ski Basin.
Lower East Side Tenement Museum
New York City
If you’ve come to New York City for holiday shopping, then what better way to celebrate than by learning about the history of shopping? At Lower East Side Tenement Museum the new Shop Life exhibit opens in December and explores how generations of immigrant entrepreneurs—German saloon keepers, a kosher butcher, a Depression-era auctioneer—brought their dreams for economic success to 97 Orchard Street's basement storefronts.
Martin Van Buren National Historic Site
The Winter Celebration at Martin Van Buren National Historic Site on December 7 will help to make your season bright when you see Van Buren’s home, Lindenwald, especially adorned for the winter season! Warm yourself with hot cider while socializing with friends in the winterized tent or enjoy the bonfire in front of Lindenwald. You can also help celebrate Martin Van Buren’s birthday on December 5! Get a preview of Lindenwald through the virtual tour.
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
Enjoy Christmas with the Roosevelts at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. Activities include holiday music performed on a harp and flute by Musica Dolce at the park's Old Orchard Museum and "Theodore Roosevelt," as portrayed by James Foote, will share his reminiscences of how the Roosevelts celebrated Christmas, both at Segamore Hill and in the White House. Children will have an opportunity to work with a park ranger to make holiday crafts, and everyone is welcome to partake of complimentary hot cider and hot chocolate from the Friends of Sagamore Hill.
Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site
You can go on a guided tour, enjoy an organ concert, attend an outdoor music festival, participate in a living history program, go on a cemetery tour or just enjoy a quiet walk on the grounds at Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site. During the holiday season, the church presents several holiday music programs including: Holiday Opera with the acclaimed Bronx Opera Company, Holiday Music and the Holiday of Christmas featuring harp, French horn and voice (with a bonus if you arrive early—a presentation about the historical development of Christmas as a holiday in America), a Holiday Organ Concert or the Holiday Family Program. In 1733, St. Paul’s Church played a role in raising issues about our freedoms of religion and of the press, so you can even attend an educational program marking the 221st anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791.
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site
Theodore Roosevelt described Christmas as “an occasion of literally delirious joy.” Enjoy a Victorian Christmas in TR’s style at Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site. Tickets are required. Download complete details about the event at the park’s website.
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site decorates the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s home in simple Sandburg style with poinsettias and a traditionally decorated Christmas tree for the entire month of December through January 6. On December 8, the free and festive Christmas at Connemara event includes musicians and storytellers, hot cider and cookies. This celebration honors Carl Sandburg and his family holiday tradition of music.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Join Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the Holiday Homecoming, an old-fashioned Christmas celebration in the Smokies with traditional music, holiday crafts, and cider and cookies. Feeling musical? Join the jam session or just sit back and listen at the Back Porch Old Time Music event in the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center — a model of “green” energy efficiency and sustainability — two miles north of Cherokee.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park for a real Christmas adventure! The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad offers several holiday themed railroad trips including a trip to Peninsula to choose your Christmas tree, Mr. Jingeling's Holiday Express, and the Polar Express. Download a complete Winter 2012-2013 Schedule from the park website.
William Howard Taft National Historic Site
William Howard Taft National Historic Site hosts a Victorian Christmas throughout the month of December including holiday crafts, a candlelight tour with refreshments, a visit from Father Christmas and the annual New Year’s Eve Open House.
Heceta Head Lighthouse and Lightkeeper’s Home, Siuslaw National Forest
Heceta Head Lighthouse may arguably be the most photographed spot along the Oregon coast. The nearby lightkeeper’s home is managed as a bed and breakfast through an arrangement with the Siuslaw National Forest, and during the annual Victorian Christmas Open House, is open to the public for four evenings. Visitors will enjoy the beautifully decorated Keeper’s House, each evening musicians will perform holiday favorites, local sponsors provide warm drinks and goodies, and Santa Claus will make a special appearance.
Touro Synagogue, dedicated in 1763, is the oldest synagogue and most historically significant Jewish building in the United States. The congregation was founded in 1658 by the descendants of Jewish families who fled the Inquisitions in Spain and Portugal and who themselves left the Caribbean seeking the greater religious tolerance that Rhode Island offered. On Sunday, December 9—the second night of Hanukkah—the synagogue is open from 5 to 7 p.m. for a community candle lighting celebration. In addition to lighting the menorah, there will be food (latkes), entertainment and more. The synagogue will also participate in the month long community wide Christmas in Newport celebration. The synagogue offers regular tours every Sunday throughout the winter and early spring.
Ninety Six National Historic Site
Join Ninety Six National Historic Site for a Backcountry Holiday and learn how colonists did (or didn't) celebrate the holidays around the historic Black Swan Tavern. Feel the nip in the air, hear and sing colonial music, see how colonists lived and worked through the fall and winter.
Santee National Wildlife Refuge
Join Santee National Wildlife Refuge for their annual Christmas Bird Count event on December 22! Participants will cover the count area by vehicle or on foot, with emphasis on several wetland and open water areas, mixed pine and hardwood areas, thickets, hardwood stands and open fields. In previous years, Santee’s bird counters have racked up as many as 130 species, including Le Conte’s sparrows, greater white-fronted and Ross’s geese, snow geese, tundra swans, Sandhill cranes and 11 bird of prey species! The count begins from the Visitor Center, eight miles south of Summerton on U.S. 15/301.
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Join the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to celebrate Festival of Christmas Past at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, two miles south of Gatlinburg on US-441, with old-time music, harp singing, storytelling and reminiscing, craft demonstrations such as weaving, spinning, quilting, basket making, historic toys and games, and children's activities.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park presents the Hispanic folk play Los Pastores at Mission San Jose. The play depicts the pastores (shepherds') journey to honor the Christ Child and the obstacles Lucifer puts before them. Its dramatic conclusion brings a round of cheers from the audience when the Archangel Michael conquers the devil.
Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge
Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge hosts an Annual Trinity River Christmas Bird Count for northern Liberty County on December 27. Birdwatchers of all levels are welcome to join. A wrap-up dinner will be held at the Plantation restaurant in Cleveland. For more information call (936) 336-9786.
Golden Spike National Historic Site
Celebrate the holiday season with Golden Spike National Historic Site’s annual Winter Steam Festival! This event gives visitors a chance to see a locomotive in action at the same spot where the transcontinental railroad was completed over 143 years ago. Visitors can also take opportunities to explore the railroad museum, watch films, and participate in other special events not regularly offered throughout the winter season.
Lake Champlain Scenic Byway
Lake Champlain Region
If you truly want to experience Jack Frost nipping at your nose and walk in a winter wonderland, a visit to the Green Mountain State is a must. Snow-covered sugar maples, 400-year-old hemlocks, covered bridges and rambling stone walls will play setting to your winter hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe jaunt and surrounding communities will envelop you with that classic, winter-in-New-England feel. Try the Lake Champlain Scenic Byway. Make sure to bundle up!
Booker T Washington National Monument
Join Booker T Washington National Monument for the annual Old Virginia Christmas Event. Join on a lantern guided tour led by costumed re-enactors who will examine concerns and dreams of slaves and plantation owners during the Christmas of 1862. Booker T Washington was born here in 1856, and you can read some of his Christmas memories on the park’s website.
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
Take a lantern-lit journey with a park ranger through a night at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site! Peak into the past through live theater with vignettes performed by costumed interpreters, and learn about your urban national park then and now. Walk from scene to scene through the fort buildings enjoying hot cider with the performers.
White Sulpher Springs
Since 1778 the historic Greenbrier, once the "Queen of the Southern Spas,” has offered lodging and luxury to many a distinguished guest, including 26 U.S. Presidents. During the holidays, the Greenbrier is transformed into a storybook winter wonderland and—even if you can’t afford to stay overnight—the shops, restaurants, outdoor ice skating rink, sleigh rides and many other activities are open to the public. Enjoy a free and equally beautiful (but less glamorous) winter wonderland on the nearby Monongahela National Forest.
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Fort Laramie National Historic Site
At Fort Laramie National Historic Site’s annual Christmas on the Frontier event, the park will entertain visitors in the mess room of the historic 1874 Cavalry Barracks. A Hand Bell Choir and the Torrington Old Time Fiddlers will perform, and park staff dressed in period clothing will portray some of the memorable Christmases celebrated at the historic fort.
National Elk Refuge
Take an hour-long horse-drawn sleigh with a bonus: a close-up view of the refuge’s great elk herds. Double H Bar, Inc. will lead the rides. Sleigh rides are offered daily from December 17 through April 6, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed on Christmas day). Tickets ($18 adults; $14 ages 5-12; under age 5 free) are sold at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center. Learn more about the rides.