In this article we’re covering the best national parks to visit in the fall. We’ll explore beautiful parks bursting with fall foliage, filled with smaller crowds, and packed with many fun things to do!
Traveling through national parks is a delight any time of year, but one of the best times to visit is during the fall season. Fall brings cooler weather, making the desert-like parks more manageable and more comfortable to visit. In addition, expect more wildlife sightings, smaller crowds, and maybe even off-season pricing. When you visit a national park during the fall, you’ll be surprised by the jaw-droppingly gorgeous fall foliage with colors dripping from every branch. During the fall, it’s also easier to find vacancies in campgrounds in national parks as well. There are many excellent parks to visit with plenty of incredible benefits because of the season.
1. Yosemite National Park, California
Visiting Yosemite National Park during the fall is a dream. The fall brings mild weather and beautiful foliage. During the fall season, the park slows down, there is less traffic, and you can enjoy many fun recreational opportunities. Yosemite National Park has excellent hiking trails, fall fishing, and absolutely breathtaking views—especially during the fall! Wander through the terrain to spot any waterfalls that are still flowing. Yosemite National Park is a lovely park with hues of oranges and yellows dripping from every branch!
2. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
If you’re looking for some amazing fall foliage, then Shenandoah National Park in Virginia should be a stop on your list. This national park is spectacular any day of the year, but more specifically, it’s absolutely breathtaking during the fall season. The branches are sprinkled with red, yellow, and orange leaves, but every part of the park will change in its own time because of the elevation changes. There are a few particularly incredible things to enjoy at Shenandoah National park during the fall season. The Skyline Drive is a road that runs 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The drive is scenic and has 70 overlooks for guests to stop and enjoy the view. In addition, Little Stony Man Overlook is a one-mile round trip hike that is great for families and showcases outstanding foliage along the way.
3. Joshua Tree National Park, California
Joshua Tree National Park is in California. This national park is best known for its unique tree called the Joshua Tree. The unique Joshua Tree provides spectacular sights. And when seen in the amber desert light, it’s an extraordinary vision. Joshua Tree National Park brings in smaller crowds during the fall, making it easier to get those perfect photos.
4. Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park in Utah is a great park to visit in the fall. The cooler temperatures bring smaller crowds and trees drenched in fall foliage. This national park is spectacular to see in the fall. Visitors might even feel as if they’ve stepped into a work of art! Try the scenic Zion Canyon drive or hike Watchman Trail or Cable Mountain.
5. Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia & North Carolina
If you’re looking for a spectacular fall foliage show, then Blue Ridge Parkway is the national park for you. Along Blue Ridge Parkway, the fall color changes first on the highest peaks and slowly makes its way to the lower elevation of the park. Through the 470 miles and 5,000 feet in elevation, visitors are awarded the most beautiful fall colors. The sun shines on the amber and orange leaves creating a magnificent glow and delightful view. Get ready for wildflowers, trees, plants, and the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever seen.
6. Mount Rainer National Park, Washington
Mount Rainer National Park has the tallest mountain in Washington State at 14,411 feet. In addition, the park’s valleys are carpeted with colorful wildflowers, old forests, and exciting hiking trails. Visitors will love getting lost in this paradise! Mount Rainer National Park has many lakes, waterfalls, and hiking trails. It’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring national park that’s perfect for enjoying fall foliage. Visitors here will find many opportunities for once-in-a-lifetime pictures!
7. Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is one of the best national parks to visit in the fall. Visitors are greeted with crisp weather, a gorgeous Atlantic rocky coastline, and tall granite peaks. Acadia National Park is filled excellent hiking trails, beautiful viewpoints, and incredible granite formations.
8. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Get prepared to be awe-inspired by the red rocks at Bryce Canyon National Park. This national park is filled with astonishing geological wonders. Visitors can enjoy hiking, backcountry exploring, magnificent terrain, and the largest collection of hoodoos in the world! “Inspiration Point” is a spectacular sight and worth every step to get there! This national park also offers many ranger-led programs, informative geology talks, horseback riding, and the “Queens Garden” hike that leads right down into the canyon.
9. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an absolute wonder. It’s full of unique geological and biological terrain and spectacular views at every stop. The park encompasses two of the world’s most active volcanoes and treats visitors to dramatic landscapes. This national park is also full of rich cultural history with lots of monuments and landmarks along with excellent hikes.
10. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Deep, thick, lush forests blanket Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This national park has an abundance of rolling hills and valleys, and it winds along the Cuyahoga River. Take a hike up to Brandywine Falls for a spectacular sight! Cuyahoga Valley National Park becomes a stunning picture at sunrise and sunset during the fall. This national park is a spectacular sight filled with beautiful nature.
11. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Crater Lake National Park contains one of the deepest lakes in the world. The lake was formed by what is now a collapsed volcano. This national park has two small islands and plenty of recreation. Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, camping, and magnificent sights. Crater Lake National Park also has an incredible backdrop of cliffs that tower nearly 2,000 feet high. Even better, this national park is a vision in the fall. As the sun shines through the the cliffs, the autumn colors start to pop, and you’re in for a real treat!
12. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park is in the state of Arizona. It encompasses layers upon layers of miraculous geological formations. The national park covers 277 miles of the Colorado River and its adjacent uplands. The fall season brings cooler weather, making it easier to enjoy more of the park. This park also includes many hikes varying in difficulty.
13. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina
Be prepared to take in a vision when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the fall. Thick forests blanket the mountain sides with over 100 species of trees. The beautiful wildflowers are bright, colorful, and vivid. This national park turns orange, yellow, red, and purple in fall to become an absolute jaw-dropping beauty.