17 Best National Parks to Visit in October » Local Adventurer


Looking for the perfect nationwide parks to go to in October?

October is a fantastic time to go to the National Parks. The children are again at school (yay, no children!), fall colours are out, and it’s nice climate for getting outside.

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Last Updated: September 29, 2022

Before we get into it, we wish to remind everybody to discover the parks responsibly utilizing the 7 Leave no Trace Principles. Have a plan, keep on established trails, perform something you carry in, depart what you discover, decrease campfire impression, respect wildlife, and be thoughtful of others.

About the National Park by month Series

To put collectively this checklist, we’ve mixed our private experiences and suggestions we gathered from locals and cross-referenced them with the climate, accessibility, native boards, seasonal sights like fall foliage or wildflowers, and particular occasions taking place within the space. We additionally thought of any distinctive adventures solely provided at sure instances of the yr to seek out probably the most optimum months to go to every National Park. Phew! that was loads!

It took me an entire week of analysis, however since I’m a maximizer, it was value having a year-round calendar of adventures (publishing that quickly!). Also, take a look at our full checklist of all of the nationwide parks and all nationwide park items that embody soon-to-be nationwide parks.

We additionally selected to not embody the hardest-to-access nationwide parks in Alaska and those in U.S. territories on this sequence.

National Parks: Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec | Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul

Is October a Good Time to Visit National Parks?

Yes! It’s a good time to go to National Parks, particularly for fall colours. We had a tough time narrowing down the checklist, so we included 17.

Plan on visiting greater than two nationwide parks this yr? Pick up an America the Beautiful annual cross to economize (entrance charges to every park are, on common, $30-35 per car). Plus, you’re serving to help the Parks that all the time want funding.

17 Best National Parks to Visit in September

1. Acadia National Park, Maine

25 Visitor Center Rd, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, map

Average Temperatures: 55° F / 38° F

Why Visit: Mid-October is the perfect time to go to for leaf-peeping. Although it’s crowded, the colours are gorgeous sufficient to make it value it. We caught the final of the autumn foliage in late October.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drive, Hiking, Rock Climbing, Cycling, Lobster Boat Cruise, Kayaking, Tidepooling

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Cadillac Mountain, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Precipice Trail, Thunder Hole, Scenic Park Loop Road
  • Wildlife – Seals, Harbor Porpoises, Moose, Black Bears, Whitetail Deer, Beavers
  • How many days do you want? 1-3

Pro Tip: If you wish to drive up Cadillac Summit Road, you are actually required to get a ticket. See extra particulars right here Recreation.gov.

See Related – 15 Breathtaking Things to Do in Acadia National Park


2. Arches National Park, Utah

38.6165892,-109.6220349, map

Average Temperatures: 71° F / 41° F

Why Visit: October is without doubt one of the greatest months to go to Arches National Park. The climate remains to be heat in the course of the day and cools at evening. That makes it excellent for climbing to see the arches up shut.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drive, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Canyoneering, Photography

Don’t Miss:

Pro Tip: They have a Ranger-Led Fiery Furnace Hike that fills up shortly. Be positive to enroll early!

See Related – The Ultimate GUide to Arches National Park

Delicate Arch at Arches Utah National ParkPin

3. Big Bed National Park, Texas

310, Alstate Ave, Big Bend National Park, TX 79834, map

Average Temperatures: 75° F / 55° F

Why Visit: Big Bend will get heat days and chilly nights in October. Since so many trails provide little to no shade, it’s important to go to when the climate isn’t too sizzling to see.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drives, Day Hikes, River Trips, Stargazing, Backpacking, Hot Springs

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Santa Elena Canyon, Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, Balanced Rock, Langford Hot Springs
  • Wildlife – Coyotes, Western Pipistrelle Bat, Black Bear, Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Elk
  • How many days do you want? 2-4

Pro Tip: The park covers a big space and might take time to get from one place to the subsequent. Give your self loads of journey time. Also, remember the fact that some trails require high-clearance autos to get to.

See Related – 11 Amazing Things to Do in Big Bend National Park

Hot Springs Big Bend National Park + Amazing Things to See in West TexasPin

4. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

10346 CO-347, Montrose, CO 81401, map

Average Temperatures: 68° F / 39° F

Why Visit: October is a good time to go to the park to discover the viewpoints and trails with out worrying in regards to the warmth. If you’re fortunate, you could even see a light-weight dusting of snow, making it much more magical.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drive, Viewpoints, Hiking, Photography

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – South Rim Road, Warner Point Nature Trail, East Portal Road
  • Wildlife – Coyotes, Elk, Eagles, Mule Deer, Bears
  • How many days do you want? 1-2

Local Tip: If you wish to discover the park past overlooks and a Visitor Center, you will need to plan forward of time. There are not any maintained or marked trails into the canyon. Plus, entry to the river is on the opposite aspect of the canyon.

See Related – 9 Amazing Things to Do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

9 Amazing Things to Do in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park // Local AdventurerPin

5. Canyonlands National Park, Utah

38.459836,-109.8252133, map

Average Temperatures: 70° F / 38° F

Why Visit: The climate is gorgeous in October in Canyonlands National Park. Pack layers for the chilly mornings and evenings. During the day, you’ll be able to absorb the solar whereas climbing the paths.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drive, Hiking, Backpacking, Camping, Stargazing

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Island within the Sky (Most Accessible), The Needles, The Maze, Horseshoe Canyon, The Rivers
  • Wildlife – Mule Deer, Kangaroo Rats, Mountain Lions, Bighorn Sheep, Black Bear, Desert Cottontails
  • How many days do you want? 2-4

Pro Tip: You want a four-wheel drive to discover many elements of this park.

See Related – The Mighty 5 Utah National Parks Road Trip

6. Capital Reef National Park, Utah

38.2914642,-111.264238, map

Average Temperatures: 65° F / 41° F

Why Visit: October is without doubt one of the hottest instances to go to Capital Reef National Park due to the perfect climbing climate. You usually don’t have to fret about snow or rain.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Camping, Backpacking, Scenic Drives, Ranger Programs

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Fruita, Cathedral Valley, Sulpher Creek, Petroglyph Panel, Gifford House, Pick Fruits
  • Wildlife – Bighorn Sheep, Mule Deer, Mountain Lion, Ringtail, Marmots, Gray Fox, Canyon Bat
  • How many days do you want? 2-4

See Related – Complete List of National Parks by State

Capitol Reef National Park UtahPin

7. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

727 Carlsbad Cavern Hwy, Carlsbad, NM 88220, map

Average Temperatures: 71° F / 49° F

Why Visit: The Bat Flight Program (late May via October at 7 pm) is a spotlight that you simply shouldn’t miss. In October, the cooler climate makes exploring the floor trails extra nice too,

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Wildlife Viewing, Guided Tours, Stargazing

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – at Flight Program, Guadalupe Ridge Trail, Big Room, and Natural Entrance Trails
  • Wildlife – Vesper Bats, Coyotes, Gray Fox, Kit Fox, Pronghorn, Vipers, Bobcat, Black Bears,
  • How many days do you want? 1-3

Pro Tip: No digital gadgets are allowed (together with cameras and cell telephones) in the course of the Bat Flight Program.

Carlsbad Cavern Natural Entrance + 17 Best National Parks to Visit in SeptemberPin

8. Congaree National Park, South Carolina

100 National Park Rd, Hopkins, SC 29061, map

Average Temperatures: 75° F / 52° F

Why Visit: Congaree National Park’s fall colours peak in direction of the tip of October. The cooler temperatures make it a good time to go climbing or paddle down the river.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Canoeing, Kayaking, Fishing, Camping

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Boardwalk Loop Trail, Canoe or Kayak, Bluff Trail
  • Wildlife – Bobcats, Deer, Feral Pigs, Coyotes, Armadillos, Otters
  • How many days do you want? 1-2

Pro Tip: If you’re not comfy paddling down a river your self, you’ll be able to join ranger-led paddles.

See Related – 11 Unique Things to Do in Congaree National Park

Looking for the best things to do in Columbia SC? Congaree National Park needs to be on your list! Click through and save this pin to find the ultimate guide to this national park. Find out what you can't miss, which ranger program you need to sign up for, when to visit to see the synchronous fireflies, and more. // Local Adventurer #localadventurer #discoverSC #southcarolina #visittheusa #realcolumbiascPin

9. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

6947 Riverview Rd, Peninsula, OH 44264, map

Average Temperatures: 62° F / 46° F

Why Visit: The fall leaves in Cuyahoga Valley National Park often peak in late October, making it the right autumn getaway.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Biking, Scenic Train Ride, Fishing, Paddling

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, Ledges Overlook, Brandywine Falls, Canal Exploration Center
  • Wildlife – Coyotes, Red Foxes, Gray Foxes, Bats, Deer, Mink
  • How many days do you want? 2-3
cuyahoga valley national park waterfallsPin

10. Great Smoky Mountain National Park

2 Everett St, Bryson City, NC 28713, map

Average Temperatures: 63° F / 36° F

Why Visit: Sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum, crimson maple, and hickories explode in colours from mid-October to early November. It attracts leaf-peeping crowds, so be ready for it to be busy. You might should courageous the crowds, but it surely’s value it.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Camping, Scenic Drives, Biking, Fall Colors

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Charlies Bunion, Alum Cave Bluffs, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Wildlife – Elk, Black Bears, Bobcat, Whitetail Deer, Coyote, Pygmy Shrew
  • How many days do you want? 2-4

Pro Tip: To keep away from crowds, get out of the automobile and go on longer hikes. You’ll nonetheless see individuals, however it will likely be a lot fewer than simple to get to spots.

See Related – 11 Can’t Miss Things to DO in Pigeon Forge TN

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg TNPin

11. Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

800 E Lakeshore Dr, Houghton, MI 49931, map

Average Temperatures: 48° F / 38° F

Why Visit: With a restricted season ending in October, that is your final likelihood to go to this park earlier than ready one other six months. It’s often much less crowded, too, though it by no means will get that busy in comparison with different nationwide parks.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Backpacking, Camping, Fishing, Kayaking, Scuba Diving

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Ferry Ride, Greenstone Ridge Trail, Tour the three Lighthouses
  • Wildlife – Moose, Wolves, Elk, Snowshoe Hares, Foxes, Mink, Beavers
  • How many days do you want? 1-3
isle royale lighthouse national parkPin

12. New River GOrge National Park, West Virginia

162 Visitor Center Rd, Lansing, WV 25862, map

Average Temperatures: 63° F / 44° F

Why Visit: As one of many latest National Parks, it has shortly earned a spot as the most effective parks for fall foliage, peaking in mid to late October. The cool temps make it excellent for climbing and climbing too.

Best For / Top Activities: Camping, Whitewater Rafting, Hiking, Biking, Climbing, Scenic Drives, Fishing

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – New River Gorge Bridge, Grandview, Sandstone Falls, Nuttallburg
  • Wildlife – Groundhog, Coyotes, Red Foxes, Gray Foxes, Black Bears, Bobcats, White-Tailed Deer
  • How many days do you want? 1-3
new river gorge national park fall foliagePin

13. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

1 Park Rd, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ 86028, map

Average Temperatures: 73° F / 42° F

Why Visit: Summer is the busiest and wettest season of the park, however come October, the temperatures are gentle, and all of the rain rewards you with wildflowers blooming.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drive, Hiking, Backpacking, Bicycling, Horseback Riding

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Blue Mesa Trail, Red Basin, Rim Trail, Painted Desert Overlooks, Newspaper Rock
  • Wildlife – Pronghorn, Coyote, Kit Fox, Bobcat Mule Deer, Badger
  • How many days do you want? 1-2

Pro Tip: Explore the park East to West, and you may see all the things with out backtracking.

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14. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Skyline Drive Milepost 51, Stanley, VA 22851, map

Average Temperatures: 58° F / 39° F

Why Visit: October is the height season for fall foliage viewing and is the park’s busiest time, with roughly 25% of its yearly guests in a single month. You can see the leaves from the automobile and viewpoints or hop on one in every of its 500 hundred miles of trails.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drives, Fall Foliage, Hiking, Backpacking, Wildlife Viewing, Fishing

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Skyline Drive, Old Rag Mountain, Big Meadows, The Point Overlook, Dickey Ridge
  • Wildlife – Black Bear, Big Brown Bat, Skunks, White-Tailed Deer
  • How many days do you want? 2-4
fall foliage shenandoah national park + 17 Stunning PlacesPin

15. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

360 MN-11, International Falls, MN 56649, map

Average Temperatures: 52° F / 33° F

Why Visit: You can catch the tail finish of fall foliage in October with fewer individuals, fewer mosquitoes, and funky temperatures. Also, don’t miss out on the prospect to catch the Northern Lights at evening.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Stargazing, Guided Tours, Bird Watching

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Echo Bay Trail, Grassy Bay Cliffs, Ellsworth Rock Gardens, Anderson Bay, Harry Oveson Fish Camp
  • Wildlife – Moose, Gray Wolf, Beaver, Bald Eagle
  • How many days do you want? 1-3

Pro Tip: Portions of the park can solely be accessed through the water. Check the Visitors Center for more information.

kabetogama lake voyageurs national parkPin

16. White Sands National Park, New Mexico

19955 US-70, Alamogordo, NM 88310, map

Average Temperatures: 79° F / 41° F

Why Visit: October is without doubt one of the quieter months at White Sands National Park. It’s a good time to discover the dunes with nobody in sight or to even camp and gaze on the stars above. You’ll additionally discover some cottonwoods altering colours presently.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Bicycling, Backcountry Camping, Photography, Stargazing, Sledding

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Sledding, Dune Life Nature Trail, Alkali Flat Trail, Playa Trail
  • Wildlife – American Badger, Apache Pocket Mouse, Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Bobcat, Coyote, Kit Fox
  • How many days do you want? 1-3

Pro Tip: Since you’re climbing on dunes, you want to hold an eye fixed out for path markers. It can get disorienting in a short time. We bought misplaced.

See Related – 5 Incredible Things to Do at White Sands National Park

Popular White Sands in New MexicoPin

17. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

26611 US-385, Hot Springs, SD 57747, map

Average Temperatures: 63° F / 35° F

Why Visit: Although the cave stays the identical temperature year-round, October additionally brings you nice climate for exploring the floor trails. The surrounding grasslands and forested hillsides are lovely and an excellent place to identify wildlife

Best For / Top Activities: Tours, Hiking, Wildlife, Scenic Drives

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Wind Cave Tour, Prairie Vista, Elk Mountain, Bison Flats, Boland Ridge
  • Wildlife – Bison, Prairie Dog, Black Footed Ferret, Elk, Bobcats, Mountain Lions
  • How many days do you want? 1-3

Pro Tip: Stop by the Visitor Center for more information about cave excursions.

wind cave national park south dakotaPin

Map of the Best National Parks to Visit in October

Want to See More NATIONAL Parks to Visit in October?

If you’re keen on nationwide parks like us and have completed most of the above, listed here are some extra concepts for National Parks to go to in October. While October will not be the highest two excellent months out of the yr to go to these parks, it’s not a nasty time both.

Tips for Visiting the Best National Parks in September

  • Explore the parks responsibly utilizing Leave no Trace ideas.
  • Pick up the National Park Annual Pass for those who plan on visiting a number of parks inside the yr. It saves you some huge cash.
  • Want to see the fall foliage? Climate change and droughts this yr will make timing extra unpredictable. We usually go onto the geotag on Instagram or Tiktok and scroll via all of the latest posts to see what it’s trying like. Keep in thoughts that some individuals submit older content material, so I like to have a look at the grid or ones that non-influencers are posting. You may depart a remark and ask after they went.
  • It’s all the time a good suggestion to pack layers wherever you go. Some parks are heat in the course of the day and funky at evening. Pay consideration to the elevation change too! Some parks shall be heat on the valley ground and chilly at larger elevations.
  • You may have a reservation. See nationwide parks that now require reservations right here.
  • Always examine the park’s web site and Visitors Center for probably the most up-to-date data on closures.
  • Remember that wildlife is wild. Be aware of how one can work together with animals and the way a lot area it’s best to have between you and them.
Turret Arch Arches National ParkPin

What to Pack

How you’ll pack is determined by which park you go to and the actions you intend, however here’s a common information on objects we all the time attempt to pack.

Want to know what to put on to the airport? Here’s my excellent airport outfit.


Are nationwide parks crowded in October?

Fall is without doubt one of the greatest instances to go to National Parks. October often means there are fewer crowds (until you go to a park identified for its fall foliage). Accommodations are often cheaper too.

What time of yr is greatest to go to nationwide parks?

Late September and October are the perfect instances to go to National Parks. You get heat, however not chilly climate, and fewer crowds as a result of children are again at school, which additionally means cheaper lodging.

What nationwide park is greatest to go to in October?

It is determined by what you’re searching for! If you’re visiting for fall foliage, Great Smoky, Shenandoah, and Red River Gorge are nice. To keep away from crowds, take a look at White Sands, Isle Royale, or Voyageurs.

What is the perfect nationwide park to go to within the fall?

All the parks on this checklist are good for one cause or one other, however our vote goes to Acadia National Park for fall foliage plus the coast.

What is Zion like in October?

Highs of 82 levels Fahrenheit and lows of 43 levels make it nonetheless heat when there isn’t shade. Avoid uncovered hikes in the midst of the day, and use the nice and cozy temps to discover the river and canyon.

How is Yellowstone in October?

Yellowstone in October is a good time to see wildlife nonetheless out and about. Many of them are getting ready for winter now. The climate is cool and crisp, and fall colours are additionally out.

What is Yosemite like in October?

The climate within the valley remains to be heat in the course of the day with highs of 71, but it surely drops all the way down to the low 40s at evening. If you head as much as Tuolumne Meadows, the temperatures drop by 20 levels.

Is Glacier park open in October?

Roads begin closing in October, so parts of the park will not be accessible relying on the climate.

How sizzling is Grand Canyon in October?

On the South Rim, the highs are often round 65 levels Fahrenheit, and the lows are round 33.

Recap of the 17 Best National Parks to Visit in October

September is an excellent time to discover the National Parks. You get to benefit from good climate, and most colleges have began again up, so it will likely be a bit much less crowded than within the top of summer season. Here is the checklist of parks we suggest visiting.

  1. Acadia National Park
  2. Arches National Park
  3. Big Bend National Park
  4. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  5. Canyonlands National Park
  6. Capitol Reef National Park
  7. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  8. Congaree National Park
  9. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  10. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  11. Isle Royale National Park
  12. New River Gorge National Park
  13. Petrified Forest National Park
  14. Shenandoah National Park
  15. Voyageurs National Park
  16. White Sands National Park
  17. Wind Cave National Park

Can you consider others that belong on this checklist of greatest nationwide parks to go to in October? Which ones are we lacking?




“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust


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