It’s hard to believe that fall is nearly here. If you’re already eager to get back into our National Parks, here are six fantastic picks that may be even more fun to explore as the weather cools.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Fall is when the elk come out to play and the golden leaves transform the landscape at Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a great time to see all kinds of wildlife, including moose, black bears, even bighorn sheep, which are known to get into head-butting competitions in October and November. Head to Alpine Visitor Center for unparalleled views and sign up for a horseback trail ride to experience wilderness trails in and around the park.
Death Valley National Park
With park temperatures that can rise well into the 100s in summer months, it should come as no surprise that Death Valley National Park is best explored in the fall and winter. Guided ranger tours don’t even begin until late-October. Plan to get an early start at Death Valley by taking in the sunrise at Zabriskie Point before exploring the badlands at Twenty Mule Team Canyon.
Acadia National Park
It’s hard to beat the leaf-peeping in Maine, which peaks in mid-October, and one of the best spots for taking in fall foliage is Acadia National Park. Plan to hike the 3.3 mile Jordan Pond Loop for incredible views while enjoying the cool autumn weather. Wake up early to get to the top of Cadillac Mountain where you’ll be able to see the first U.S. sunrise between early-October and early-March. Bring along a blanket to keep warm.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The fall colors at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee are incredible as the red maples, yellow birch and flowering dogwoods begin to change in October and November. Take in the views from Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee. On your way down, take a few steps and strike a pose in front of the “Appalachian Trail” sign. Most visitors explore the park by car or RV, so you won’t be alone if you opt to drive to various scenic lookout points.
Arches National Park
It’s not unusual for daily temperatures in summer to reach the mid-90s at Arches National Park, so plan a fall visit when you can see more than 2,000 natural stone arches, including Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch, in cooler fall weather. Plan for hiking, biking, backpacking or camping, and be sure to check out the Fiery Furnace, a unique geologic formation that offers incredible views at sunrise and sunset. The Devils Garden Trail is one of the most popular in the park.
Grand Teton National Park
Head to Wyoming for a visit to one of the most beautiful parks in the national parks system, Grand Teton National Park. You’ll find beautiful fall colors, majestic mountains and all kinds of wildlife, including elk and deer. The park is not very big, so it’s easy to explore in one day, hitting each of the visitor centers, including Colter Bay, Moose and Jenny Lake. Take a hike along one of the popular trails, like the Christian Pond Lake. Head to String Lake for a picnic and rock-skipping into the lake.