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Best U.S. National Parks for Fall Foliage

Fall colors will be in full swing in the next month, and the U.S. National Parks are the place to be. If you’ve been waiting for all things fall to take over the great outdoors, book a trip to one of these national parks ASAP.

Shenandoah National Park

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Image by Jay Dickman

Best Time to Go for Fall Foliage: October

Whether you choose to hike through the park or take a ride on Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park will treat you to fall colors throughout the park. It does tend to get crowded during the fall months, as many individuals travel to Shenandoah to get a glimpse of the beautiful fall leaves.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Image by Troy Harrison

Best Time to Go for Fall Foliage: October-November

Depending on the area within the Smokies, there may be a long window for seeing beautiful fall colors at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The higher elevations peak in early-mid October, but lower elevations within the park peak in early November.

Zion National Park

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Image by Ron and Patty Thomas

Best Time to Go for Fall Foliage: October-November

Zion National Park truly is a stunning place to visit at any time of the year. If you’re looking to go when it’s a little cooler and a little less crowded, fall might be the perfect time for your visit. The shuttles run a little less frequently, but there’s plenty to look at as you wait. The leaves begin to change colors at the highest peaks first and work their way down the cliffs as the season progresses toward winter.

Rocky Mountain National Park

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Image by Brad McGinley Photography

Best Time to Go for Fall Foliage: September-October

If you read our early fall foliage report, you already know that the best time to see the fall colors in the Rockies is starting right now. The changes from green to gold create a beautiful backdrop as you’re watching wildlife in the park. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the earliest parks to change colors for the fall, so get there ASAP.

Grand Teton National Park

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Image by Matt Anderson Photography

Best Time to Go for Fall Foliage: September-October

Fall in Grand Teton National Park comes early and drenches the park in gold. Many of the trees in the park feature beautiful yellow leaves, with relatively few changing to orange or red. If you visit Grand Teton during the fall, you’ll also have the opportunity to watch the migrating birds and see the elk as they prepare for the winter.

Olympic National Park

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Image by Mint Images

Best Time to Go for Fall Foliage: October

From October until June, Olympic National Park experiences its rainy season, so if you visit during the fall, prepare to get wet. The leaves will change color and a variety of mushrooms will begin to pop up in the rainforests. You’ll also have the opportunity to observe the rutting season.

Acadia National Park 

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Image by Scott Smith

Best Time to Go for Fall Foliage: October

Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons at Acadia National Park. Temperatures are in the low 70s (Fahrenheit) throughout all of September but cool down significantly going into October. Fall in Acadia National Park has smaller crowds, although it is the biggest time for cruises in the area.

Grand Canyon National Park

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Image by Gary Weathers

Best Time To Go for Fall Foliage: September-October

Fall in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon can be incredibly busy, but it’s definitely worth it to see the beautiful colors. If you want to avoid the majority of the crowds, try heading to the North Rim for your fall foliage watch. Some of the trees in the North Rim are known for growing in high elevations, which will make for a beautiful view during your fall visit.

Glacier National Park

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Image by Tom Penpark

Best Time to Go for Fall Foliage: September-October

Glacier National Park also sees a decrease in visitors when the seasons change. A visit to Glacier National Park in the fall will give you the opportunity to take in the beautiful fall colors due to the variety and diversity of plant life within the park. Please go to the Glacier National Parks page for a full list of updates before planning your visit, since the park is undergoing some construction projects.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

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Image by Sam Brockway/500 px

Best Time to Go for Fall Foliage: September-October

Lassen Volcanic National Park is open every day, though there are certain areas of the park that close at specific times of the year. The fall foliage in Lassen Volcanic National Park is truly beautiful, but you don’t need to hike to see the colors. You can also drive the scenic roads to experience the beauty of the park.

Capitol Reef National Park

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Image by Ron and Patty Thomas

Best Time to Go for Fall Foliage: October

It might sound strange that a park known for its canyons and cliffs is on a list of fall foliage, but visiting Capitol Reef National Park in the fall is a unique opportunity to experience the park. Considered to be an underrated destination, Capitol Reef has beautiful fall foliage plus sandstone cliffs.

Guadalupe Mountain National Park

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Image by Tim Speer

Best Time to Go for Fall Foliage: October-NovemberThe deciduous trees located in Guadalupe Mountain National Park are uncommon in the southwestern United States, making it an excellent choice for seeing fall foliage. It’s unlike most other places in Texas, so if you choose to visit Guadalupe Mountain National Park in the fall, expect to be there with crowds of other people who want to take in the views as well.

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