Best National Parks to Visit in Fall for Peak Colors – Bearfoot Theory

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Fall is commonly top-of-the-line seasons to go to National Parks throughout the US. With college again in session and the busy trip season over, you’re extra more likely to discover some solitude even in the most well-liked National Parks. Plus, many National Parks exhibit beautiful fall colours and the crisp, cool climate makes for nice mountain climbing, backpacking, and automotive tenting.

We’ve rounded up a listing of one of the best leaf-peeping National Parks to go to within the fall season – from Alaska to Tennessee – the place the colours are about to blow up. So get your digital camera prepared and the automotive packed for a National Park journey throughout essentially the most lovely season of the yr.

As it goes in the entire locations we share, please follow good path etiquette and bear in mind to Leave No Trace. This means packing out your entire rubbish, being respectful of others on the path, and following the established guidelines.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • Location: North Carolina/Tennessee
  • Best Time To Visit in Fall: mid-September – early November

Of all of the National Parks to go to within the fall, the Great Smoky Mountains win our hearts for one of the best fall foliage. With a number of the oldest and largest old-growth forests within the nation, you’ll see blankets of reds, oranges, and yellows within the rolling mountains so far as the attention can see. At above 4,000 ft, the autumn colours start to alter within the Smokies someday in late September. At that elevation, the local weather extra carefully mimics that of New England and because the leaves start to alter up prime, the colours slowly make their method down the mountainside till early November.

Fall is the right time to go to spots just like the Blue Ridge Parkway, Clingman’s Dome, Newfound Gap Overlook, Deep Creek Loop, and Ramsey Cascades (see our path information right here).

>> Read Next: Smoky Mountains Fall Travel Guide

Deep Creek Loop waterfall during peak fall foliage in Smoky Mountains National Park
Deep Creek Loop. Photo: Sarah Vaughan

Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Location: Colorado
  • Best Time To Visit in Fall: September

Catching the change of shade of Colorado’s aspens almost beats out sunny summer time days on the path or a pow day on the mountain. During the autumn season, Rocky Mountain National Park turns golden due to the aspens and the remainder of the tundra area additionally explodes with autumn colours. Peak usually happens someday in late September while you’ll get pleasure from an explosion of colours with a backdrop of the snow-capped Rockies.

At decrease elevations, you will get away with a couple of heat layers however be sure you regulate the climate within the alpine when snow, frost, and even hail can shock hikers and different park guests.

Bear Lake, Sprague Lake, and Trail Ridge Road are standard issues to do throughout fall within the Rockies (and you’ll take a look at our favourite Rocky Mountains hikes right here!).

>> Read Next: Tips for Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park

Fall foliage in Rocky Mountain National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

  • Location: Ohio
  • Best Time To Visit in Fall: late September – November

Northeast Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park is among the greatest National Parks to go to in the course of the fall season when its sugar maples have turned brilliant purple and the Sassafrass is an ideal hue of deep, burnt orange. This National Park is well accessible from Cleveland, Ohio and gives the right day journey from town.

Hike the well-known Brandywine Gorge Trail to Brandywine Falls for nice photograph ops and a full fall shade spectrum, and take a look at the Ledges Trail for distinctive rock formations.

>> Read Next: What To Wear Hiking in Fall

Cuyahoga Valley National Park // Check out the best National Parks to visit in the fall for the a leaf-peeping vacation. Enjoy autumn colors in these 10 great parks.
The Ledges Trail

Grand Teton National Park

  • Location: Wyoming
  • Best Time To Visit in Fall: September – October

One of our favourite National Parks to go to in the course of the fall is Grand Teton National Park. While it’s onerous to foretell precisely when peak leaf-peeping time will happen because of numerous local weather elements, the Tetons are normally bursting with shade from September by way of October.

During this season, male elk will bugle and even spar with one another to indicate their dominance. Catching this mating ritual from a protected distance (no less than 100 ft) is an unforgettable expertise.

Be positive to take a look at Delta Lake, Jenny Lake, Snake River Overlook, Inspiration Point, and most of the pull-offs all through the park.

>> Read Next: 7-Day Yellowstone & Grand Teton Road Trip Itinerary

Grand Teton National Park // Discover the best National Parks to visit during fall for the best leaf-peeping vacation. Get tips on hikes, scenic drives, and more.

Shenandoah National Park

  • Location: Virginia
  • Best Time To Visit in Fall: September – November

It’s no shock that the autumn season is prime time to go to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. From the months of September by way of November, Shenandoah’s lush and diversified panorama is bursting with shade. Follow Skyline Drive by way of the park for epic fall foliage views. If you’re up for an extended day hike, Old Rag Mountain is a should.

PS. in case you’re touring with a canine, Shenandoah is among the most dog-friendly National Parks, with over 480 miles price of scenic mountain climbing trails that you just’re pup can be a part of you on.

Shenendoah National Park // Discover the best National Parks to visit during fall for fall colors and foliage. Get tips on hikes, scenic drives, and more.

Acadia National Park

  • Location: Maine
  • Best Time To Visit in Fall: mid-September – October

New England is the leaf-peeping capital of North America, which makes Maine’s Acadia National Park the crown jewel on this checklist of greatest nationwide parks to go to within the fall. Primetime fall foliage in Acadia hits round mid to late September and continues by way of October.

Head as much as Mount Desert Island to see the colours, Cadillac Mountain for dawn panoramic views, and Jordan Pond for a day picnic.

>> Read Next: Best Things To Do in Acadia National Park

Jordan Pond

Denali National Park and Preserve

  • Location: Alaska
  • Best Time To Visit in Fall: August – September

Some of one of the best fall colours within the west are discovered method up north in Denali National Park. The space round Denali experiences an early chilly snap that takes place in August and makes for a crisp local weather that ushers in an exquisite show of foliage.

Fall can also be a tremendous time to observe wildlife resembling moose and caribou put together for winter within the tundra and lowlands – at a protected distance, in fact.

To catch your glimpse of each fall colours and wildlife get right here earlier than September is over, as fall in Alaska goes quick!

>> Read Next: Alaska National Park Road Trip Itinerary

Denali National Park // Discover the best National Parks to visit in fall for the best leaf-peeping vacation. Get tips on best hikes, scenic drives, and more.

Yosemite National Park

  • Location: California
  • Best Time To Visit in Fall: late September – mid-October

While you received’t see most of the well-known Yosemite National Park waterfalls throughout fall, it’s nonetheless top-of-the-line seasons to go to the park with fewer crowds and ideal mountain climbing climate. Peak normally happens someday in late September or early October, though it’s essential to notice that Yosemite has largely evergreen bushes so don’t count on booming fall foliage. Tunnel View and Glacier Point are two must-see viewpoints in the course of the fall, and prime Yosemite hikes embrace Four Mile Trail, Half Dome, and Taft Point.

>> Read Next: Yosemite National Park Travel Guide & Best Things To Do

Yosemite National Park at sunset during the fall

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

  • Location: Texas
  • Best Time To Visit in Fall: mid-October – mid-November

A National Park in Texas will not be an apparent selection for viewing fall colours, however that’s what makes it even higher! Visit Guadalupe National Park’s McKittrick Canyon for some spectacular fall foliage that stands in distinction to the dry desert panorama of Big Bend National Park in West Texas.

To get a glimpse of Texas’ greatest show of fall foliage, hike the 4.8-mile out-and-back McKittrick Canyon Trail, which is ideal for a leisurely leaf-peeping afternoon, or make it a full day with the 11-mile-long trek to the ridgeline for wonderful canyon views.

McKittrick Canyon

Mount Rainier National Park

  • Location: Washington
  • Best Time To Visit In Fall: mid-September – mid-October

Fall in Mount Rainier National Park is an unbelievably scenic place to be. Evergreen conifers, golden yellow larches, and crimson purple huckleberries mild the area up with fall colours to make each hike a memorable expertise.

Need a couple of concepts? Check out Skyline Trail, Shriner Peak, or Indian Henry’s by way of Kautz Creek to call a couple of of our favourite Mt. Rainier hikes.

Mt Rainier National Park during peak fall foliage

Looking for More Fall National Park journey Ideas?

We love a superb leaf-peeping street journey in fall, however in case you’re not essentially selecting a park for its fall colours, listed below are a couple of extra nice National Parks to contemplate visiting:

What National Parks are in your checklist to go to for fall colours? Do you might have different National Parks you’d advocate visiting within the fall? Share your expertise within the feedback!

Check out the best National Parks to visit in fall for a leaf-peeping road trip, plus tips for exploring from the car or the trail.

Written by
Kristen Bor

Hey there! My identify is Kristen, and that is my out of doors weblog. I found the ability of the outside in my 20s, on the time I wanted it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that crucial reference to nature continues to enhance my life. My purpose at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the instruments and recommendation it’s essential to responsibly get outdoors.



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