13 Best National Parks to See in the Fall

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Autumn Colors at Swiftcurrent Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana (Photo:
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on October 28, 2013. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Brecksville, Caroline Costello, destination, Gatlinburg, Glacier Natl Park, Glen Arbor, Harpers Ferry, Mammoth Cave, Mount Desert, national park, Stanley, Stonewall, Valley Forge, Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park.

(Photo: Glacier National Park, Montana via Shutterstock)

U.S. national parks are beautiful to begin with. But when the deciduous trees that blanket so many national parks become aglow with radiant fall foliage, the spectacle is astounding. You might need to pack a sweater, but you can snap gorgeous photos, partake in special activities, and, of course, enjoy the colors of autumn when you plan a trip this season.


Although fall means fewer crowds (and perhaps the chance to more easily spot wildlife) in popular parks, the weather can be unpredictable, and some facilities even close up after the summer season. Be sure to contact your park for details on what's open and what's not before planning your trip.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia might be the first place that comes to mind when you think of fall colors at national parks—the destination attracts thousands of leaf peepers in autumn, so be prepared for some crowds. But it's totally worth it—traverse the park's more than 125 miles of hiking trails to discover amazing views, take a ranger-led bird-watching walk among the changing leaves, or rent a kayak and take in the scenery from the water.

When to Go: Peak fall colors generally pop up around mid-October. Check the region's leaf status on

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