Visiting national parks is an increasingly popular way to get more involved with the outdoors. While summer often provides the most convenient time and comfortable weather, visiting in the fall offers gorgeous views and crisp air that the heat can’t match.
As we transition to the most colorful season of the year, consider beating the crowds to the following best views in nature.
1. Acadia National Park
If you’re in New England, Acadia Park’s vivid colors are hard to beat. Based in Maine, the park receives dedicated visitors year-round, but during the fall the expansive view atop Cadillac Mountain makes it the perfect place to watch the sunrise at the highest point along the North Atlantic Seaboard.
2. Rocky Mountain National Park
Late September in Colorado is a perfect time to see the thousands of yellow aspen trees from one of the highest-altitude parks. Take one of the many summit, waterfall, or lake hikes in this geographically diverse area to experience the crisp fall scenery up close.
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
At more than 9 million visitors each year, the most popular park in the United States has one of the richest autumn palettes. Located in Tennessee, most trees in this park lose their leaves in the fall, coloring the hills with a diverse set of dark oranges and yellows. It’s probably best to come earlier in the day in October to avoid the crowds.
4. Yosemite National Park
From valleys to waterfalls, California’s 1,200-square-mile park is an expanse of beauty hard to come by elsewhere in the world. The fair weather and an abundance of red maples and Pacific dogwoods make late October an ideal time to go beyond the traditional summer rush.
5. Harpers Ferry National Park
Historic and deciduous, in late October the D.C. area’s most famous park extends deep autumn oranges across West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. In addition to great hiking trails and beautiful foliage, you can visit any of the museums and even learn a historic trade.