The Best Fall Hikes at US National Parks
We’re sharing the best fall hikes at US national parks that you should add to your must-hike list.
Hiking in the fall is something we recommend when people ask us for US National Park vacation ideas.
When you explore fall hikes in the US you’ll find the weather is cooler, there are fewer people, and the colors are out of this world!
Keep reading for our tips about hiking gear and trails we recommend you explore in the fall at US National Parks and surrounding areas.
Check out this list of 60+ Best Hiking Trails in the US for even more adventure!
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What to Pack for a Day Hike
FREE DOWNLOAD: Day Hike Packing List
- Hiking shoes – we like Merrell Moab hiking shoes and Oboz hiking shoes
- Hiking socks – we always wear Darn Tough socks – they’re the BEST!
- Lots of Water – carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack
- Healthy food that’s portable and filling!
- Lip balm with UV protection
- Sunscreen is important in the summer and winter!
- Travel hand sanitizer
- Flashlight or headlamp
- UV sunglasses are good for summer and winter
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent – bug bites are no fun!
- Camera gear – DOWNLOAD the free checklist!
Check out our hiking gear list and tips for a day hike with kids!
US NATIONAL PARK, STATE PARK AND FOREST SERVICE HIKING TRAILS IN THE FALL
Hiking is one of the best ways to experience and appreciate the outdoors in the US, especially during the fall season.
The trails you find in the US national parks, state parks or forests let you explore mountain peaks, forests, and desert slickrock.
The US National Park website, the local state park website and US Forest Service website have all the information you need about hiking in the parks.
Always check the individual park website, or Forest Service trail site, for current updates on trail conditions.
The Best Fall Hikes at US National Parks
Yes, fall is our favorite time for hiking, but the other seasons are great times to explore the parks as well. Check out our guide for finding the best National Parks to visit by month.
During each season and month of the year, national parks will have different hiking (and snowshoeing) opportunities!
If you’ll be hiking with kids, fall provides nice weather and you can create fun activities along the way with the colorful leaves!
Yosemite Hikes in the Fall
We love Yosemite in the fall, and for good reason. There are so many incredible hikes to go and gorgeous scenery.
There is always something to do at Yosemite. Vernal Falls is a hiking trail that’s awesome in the fall. This is one of the only waterfalls in Yosemite that does not dry up by the time falls arrives.
With three different hiking options in one, there is a hike for everyone on this trail.
You can choose to hike the 1.6-mile loop to the base of the falls. There is a 2.4 mile trail to the top of Vernal Falls or you can go all the way to Nevada Fall on the 5.4-mile loop.
No matter which hike you choose you are guaranteed some incredible views along the way that won’t disappoint.
Yosemite National Park Travel Tips
- Hotels Near Yosemite National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Yosemite National Park
- Tours Near Yosemite National Park
Zion hikes in the Fall
Zion National Park hikes are out of this world, so of course, they are on our best fall hikes in the US. Fall is the best time to hike Zion. The temperatures are cooler and the crowds are gone.
If you are wanting to see an abundance of color, then Zion National Park in the fall is the time to go. Usually October is the time when the colors start changing.
At Zion National Park there are easy, moderate, and strenuous hikes:
Canyon Overlook Trail
This is the perfect beginner hike in the fall at Zion. There you will see some of the most amazing colors on this easy trail. While hiking you will be able to take in the views from Zion Canyon.
This is one hike you don’t want to forget your camera on because the colors are incredible. This hike is just about a mile long making it perfect for families.
This is another one of those fall hikes in the US that is a must. This is the most popular hike in Zion and for good reason.
On this 5.4-mile hike, you will climb over 1500 feet above the canyon floor. As you climb you will take in the fall colors all along the way, especially on the canyon floor.
If you plan to hike this trail remember it is steep and will take at least 3 hours to do and will require you to use a chain handrail at times.
This is a strenuous hike on our fall hiking in the US list. This is one you will want to prepare for as it is 8 miles and climbs 2300 feet in elevation.
On average it takes 4-6 hours to complete, but is well worth it! At the top, you will see Angels Landing and other Zion landmarks, not to mention all the trees changing colors.
Check out our list of Zion hikes without the shuttle to escape the crowds!
Where to Stay Near Zion
- Places to stay at to Zion National Park
- Camping in Zion National Park
- RV parks near Zion National Park
Arches Hikes in the Fall
Arches National Park in the fall is not only breathtaking, but the perfect time to go. The weather is great and the crowds are fewer.
We couldn’t just pick one go-to hike at Arches, we had to pick two to add to the best fall hikes in the US.
Devil’s Garden Trail
First on the list, Devil’s Garden Trail. It is the longest hike in Arches National Park. It is 7.2-miles roundtrip if you do the full primitive trail loop.
If you are hiking with kids, or not up for the 7-mile hike, be sure to go on the first mile of the hike to Landscape Arch, the largest arch in the park!
The other must-do fall hike is to Delicate Arch. It is a moderate 3-mile roundtrip hike, much of it a steep gain of elevation on slick rock.
An alternative to this trail would be the Delicate Arch viewpoint. You can see the arch just a few steps away from the parking lot.
Where to Stay Near Arches:
READ OUR FULL GUIDE: Places to stay near Arches National Park in Moab
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Arches.
- Purple Sage – our all-time favorite place to stay in Moab – walking distance to shopping, full kitchen, and only 8 units so you don’t feel lost in a large hotel.
- Red Cliffs Lodge – rooms up to 6 people – located 17 miles from Moab, this lodge is known for its beautiful location, winery and activities like horseback riding, fishing and more!
- Vacation Rentals – we really like rentals with a kitchen, washer and dryer and amenities like a swimming pool and hot tub.
Grand Teton Fall Hikes
It’s no surprise that Grand Teton National Park is on our list for the best fall hiking in the US. There is so much adventure at Grand Teton in the fall, and hiking is definitely one of them.
If you are looking for Grand Teton day hikes that showcases the beauty of the Grand Tetons in the fall, be sure to hike Lakeshore Trail. It’s an easy hike that you can stroll along as you enjoy the views of the Teton mountains and Jackson Lake.
This hike takes about 2 hours where you can enjoy the fall colors of the trees along the lake shore. It’s perfect when hiking with kids!
Where to Stay in Jackson near Grand Teton:
- Where to stay near Grand Teton National Park
- Elk Refuge Inn – this is right across from the refuge and the closes hotel to the park entrance – our favorite place to stay!
- Elk Country Inn – awesome property if you want to be in town.
- Vacation Rentals in Jackson, WY – we LOVE having a kitchen to prepare our meals!
Acadia Hikes in the Fall
Did you know that Acadia National Park is the most visited National Park in the fall? Everywhere you look the landscape is bursting with color.
The most popular fall hike in the park is Cadillac North Ridge Trail.
This is a 4.4-mile round trip hike that takes you up 1528 feet where you will see some of the most incredible views of the ocean and the forest.
Acadia National Park Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Acadia National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Acadia National Park
- Acadia National Park Tours
Rocky Mountain Hikes in the Fall
We can’t forget about Rocky Mountain National Park on a list about the best fall hiking in the US.
As the aspen trees change to the most beautiful golden colors, you can’t help but be amazed by their beauty.
In the distance, if you go late enough in the fall, you may see snow-capped mountains as well.
At Rocky Mountain National Park there are so many hikes to choose from, but we are a fan of Cascade Falls this time of year.
It is a 6.8 mile round trip hike that takes you into the forested country to the waterfall on the west side of the park.
Many people prefer Cub Lake this time of year. It is 4.8-miles long round trip.
On this hike you will travel to the mountain pond through the woods seeing all the fall colors along the way.
Rocky Mountain National Park Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Rocky Mountain National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Rocky Mountain National Park
- Tours Near Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hiking Gear and Tips for Kids
- Tips for Hiking with Kids
- Winter Clothing for Hiking
- Winter Hiking Gear List
- Photography Gear for Hiking