Many think that summer is the perfect time to travel and visit the nation’s National Parks, but fall is a great time as well.
In the fall, travel prices are often cheaper, there are fewer crowds, and the weather is amazing.
Not to mention the stunning colorful scenery that you can only see during the fall due to the changing fall foliage. If you are looking to visit one of America’s national parks, fall can be the perfect time to visit.
Read on to discover the top 7 national parks to experience fall foliage and see some of the most unforgettable sights America has to offer.
1. Acadia National Park
Located in Maine, Acadia National Park is beautiful any time of year, but fall is when it is at its peak. Arcadia National Park consists of more than 49,000 acres where visitors can experience the rocky coastlines of the Atlantic. Hiking enthusiasts alike will enjoy the impressive trails, granite peaks, and changing leaves during Autumn.
Fall foliage typically peaks between October 13-22, but the park is worth visiting anytime during the fall season. The weather is what many would call “perfect” during September because it’s not too hot or too cold like in the summer and the winter. Additionally, the crowds are also minimal compared to the summer peak season which can allow you to fully experience the beauty and wilderness of the park.
Visitors can also go “leaf peeping” on the beautiful scenic roadways and may even see wildlife like deer, fox, and maybe even a moose.
2. Rocky Mountain National Park
The Rockies in the fall are a must-experience adventure and a gorgeous sight to see. Rocky Mountain National Park spans the Continental Divide and contains mountains, forests, and alpine tundra.
Beginning in late August, the leaves at higher elevations begin to change to a golden-yellow color that gradually moves down the mountain. The striations in color create wonderful opportunities for great photography moments. There are several prime spots in the park to experience the fall foliage such as Hidden Valley and Bear Lake Road.
Additionally, in the fall, elk move from the high country in search of a mate for the winter. So keep a look out and you could get a glimpse of the natural wildlife.
3. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Texas may not be the first place you think of when you think about fall foliage. However, mid-October through mid-November is the prime time to visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The park encompasses the three highest peaks in Texas and is the perfect place for visitors to experience mountains and canyons bathed in fall colors.
Those in the know say that the best way to experience the foliage is on hiking trails such as those in McKittrick and Dog canyons. However, if you do plan to go, it is best to go early or carpool as the parking lots tend to fill up.
4. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
Famous for its white water rafting, New River Gorge National Park is one of America’s newest national parks. If you are interested in visiting, fall is a great time to do so. West Virginia, where the park is located, is known as “almost Heaven” to outdoor enthusiasts, and for good reason.
The namesake of the park, the New River winds through the land surrounded by trees that offer photographers the perfect scenery to capture. Visitors can also canoe or kayak the river, hike, or go mountain bike riding to experience the scenery.
The third Saturday in October also draws visitors to the park to experience Bridge Day. This is when adventurers jump from the New River Gorge Bridge (the third-highest steel bridge in the United States) into the gorge below.
5. Crater Lake National Park
Many choose to visit Crater Lake National Park in the summer, but fall is also an amazing time to visit. Located in Oregon and established as a national park by President Roosevelt in 1902, the park is a must-see and must-experience destination.
The main attraction of the park and its namesake was developed as the result of a volcanic eruption years ago. This created Crater Lake which is one of the deepest lakes in the United States. Visitors can experience everything from cliffs that rise nearly 2,000 feet high to stunning views of the fall foliage reflected in the lake. You can also choose to take the 33-mile Rim Drive which circles the caldera and offers impeccable views.
6. Shenandoah National Park
Fall is typically the busiest time of year in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, but it is for good reason. The biggest attraction in the park is Skyline Drive. This spans 105 miles along the length of the park and offers visitors 75 scenic overlooks where they can stop and take in the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
There are also several popular hikes that visitors to the park can experience. For those that prefer a shorter distance, the Crescent Rock Overlook and the Little Stony Man Overlook Hike are great.
Jewell Hollow Overlook to Mary’s Rock is 6.5 miles roundtrip and offers gorgeous views for those that prefer longer trails. If you are planning a trip, it is best to plan it early as hotels and campsites fill quickly in the fall.
7. Great Smokey Mountains National Park
Great Smokey Mountains National Park, located in North Carolina and Tennessee, is America’s most visited national park – this is for good reason! The fall foliage in the park is a sight to see! The park is home to over 100 different species of trees that make for a wide array of colors when the leaves turn.
Fall foliage is typically at its peak between mid-October to mid-November. The park offers a variety of scenic drives and hikes that visitors can experience. The Blue Ridge Parkway stretches 469 miles from North Carolina to Virginia.
There is also the Foothills Parkway and Newfound Gap Road that offers visitors the chance to experience impressive sights. The fall months are among the park’s busiest, so if you are planning a trip, try to make reservations early.
Final Thoughts on National Parks
National parks are great places to experience the gorgeous and colorful fall foliage. So, no matter which National Park you choose, you are sure to experience some unforgettable sights.
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