Visiting US National Parks in October

Here’s a list of the best National Parks to visit in October with tips to help you plan a national park vacation. If you’re looking for a unique way to explore the United States, October is a terrific time to go!

Planning a US National Park vacation in October you’ll see many parks display autumn colors, you’ll enjoy cooler temperatures, and there aren’t as many visitors as the busy summer months!

vacation ideas to US National Parks in October

With plenty of activities to do at America’s National Parks in October like hiking, biking, camping, or scenic drives, you’ll be sure to find something for everyone!

You’ll find travel guides, things to do, what to pack, where to stay, and more to plan an October vacation to US National Parks!

Use our US National Park Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in October! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

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What to Pack for a Fall National Park Vacation

fall hiking gear

Visiting US National Parks in October

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 activities and services available.

Here’s a list of US National Park vacation ideas for the month of October.

Mesa Arch sunrise at Canyonlands
Mesa Arch sunrise at Canyonlands

Canyonlands in October

Canyonlands National Park in October is one of the best times to visit! It offers cooler temperatures than other months throughout the year.

Two days is the perfect amount of time to explore this National Park. You will want to spend one day exploring Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky and the other at Needles Canyonlands.

There are so many things to do at Canyonlands National Park like exploring the Canyonlands hikes and the Island in the Sky scenic drive.

Where to Stay Near Canyonlands

Crater Lake in Oregon
Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park in October

Visiting Crater Lake in October usually means fewer people and better views when you stop at the beautiful overlooks.

With over 30 overlooks to choose from, you will be amazed by the views in this unique park.

Crater Lake National Park is a great place to visit in Oregon with kids.

Sometimes there are early snowfalls, so be sure to check the road conditions before visiting.

Lodging and Tours Near Crater Lake National Park

Death Valley
Death Valley

Death Valley in October

Death Valley National Park is best explored in the fall months due to lower temperatures than summer months.

If going on a guided tour is something you want to do, these do not start until late October.

Planning your trip to Death Valley National Park should include an early arrival for a breathtaking view of the sunrise at Zabriskie Point.

Death Valley Lodging & Tours

Denali National Park in the fall
Denali National Park

Denali National Park in October

Since Denali National Park is located in Alaska, there are very short periods to visit without snow.

October is the perfect time to visit because the end of September is when cruise ships stop porting which means fewer people are visiting the park.

Visiting Denali National Park in October is a great time to do some fall hiking and even see the northern lights!

Lodging & Tours Near Denali

Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park in October

Visiting Florida in the summer months is not ideal at all. Planning a trip to the Everglades in October is a great way to avoid the hot sticky weather. 

A must-do activity at Everglades National Park is riding an airboat on the swamps to view alligators. This is an adventurous visit that you don’t want to miss!

Everglades National Park Travel Tips

Great Smoky Mountains in the fall
Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains in October

Visiting the Great Smoky Mountains in October will be a real treat for your eyes.

The red, yellow, and orange colors that fill the tree-lined mountains make for a beautiful display.

No matter if you are exploring in your car or motorcycle these colors are one of the real reasons why visiting the Great Smoky Mountains in the fall is a must!

Check out this amazing Great Smoky Mountains vacation planner!

Great Smoky Mountains Lodging & Tours

North Cascades in the fall
North Cascades in the fall

North Cascades in October

Northern Washington in October is pure beauty. The start of October brings some fall foliage that is so breathtaking, which is surprising to many because when one thinks of Washington State they think green thick Douglas Fir Trees. 

North Cascade National Park offers jagged peaks, deep valleys, and cascading waterfalls. There is so much to see and do here.

Exploring the outdoors in cold weather is not always fun. That’s why visiting in October is smart before it gets too cold and covered in snow.

Lodging Near North Cascades

fall foliate at Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park in October

Looking to view all kinds of wildlife, including moose, black bears, and bighorn sheep? Then October is a great time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.

You may even get lucky and see some wildlife head-butting and playing around while visiting. To get the full experience of the trails and wildlife, sign up for a horseback ride to explore the park.

Rocky Mountain National Park Lodging & Tours

Shenandoah National Park in the fall
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah in October

During the first week of October, the leaves start changing into the most beautiful fall colors at Shenandoah National Park. The higher in elevation you go the more color changes in the leaves you will see.

If you are a lover of bird watching there are over 500 miles of trails where you can enjoy seeing all types of birds that make this park their home.

Located near Shenandoah National Park are the Luray Caverns, which is a US Natural Landmark. They are the largest underground caverns you will find on the east coast.

Where to Stay Near Shenandoah National Park

two grizzly bears at Yellowstone in the fall
Two grizzly bears at Yellowstone

Yellowstone in October

Our all-time favorite month to visit – Yellowstone in October. There are fewer people, cooler temperatures for hiking and greater wildlife activity.

You do need to be prepared for a trip to Yellowstone in the fall. The weather is unpredictable in the fall so pack for sun, rain, and snow.

Also, the lodges, stores, gas stations and roads begin to close for the season so do your research in advance.

But if you enjoy waterfalls, wildlife, and nature photography, and can do without some park services, use our Yellowstone vacation planning guide.

Where to Stay Near Yellowstone

Zion National Park in the fall
Zion National Park in the fall

Zion National Park in October

The Zion National Park shuttle is running every day in October so check the shuttle schedule for the most updated information. In the fall the shuttles start running a little less frequently and for less hours each day.

Zion National Park in October is the best time to hike the trails when the temperatures are moderate AND the water levels are low.

We highly recommend the two Zion National Park scenic drives near Springdale you can explore in your personal car: Highway 9 and Kolob Terrace Road.

Where to Stay Near Zion


national park guides and maps

Plan a US National Park Vacation

US National Park Travel Planner

us national parks in october everything you need to know

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  1. You guys, wow!!!
    What a great collection of parks to go camping/hiking/backpacking in!!! Death Valley is great in spring, really early springtime. I went there with my Air Explorer post back in 1978, I think. I was pretty sick with strep throat but Doc helped fly us in so he flew back for work and brought me antibiotics when he came back. Still was a great trip sick as a dog, and it was only 90 degrees during the day. 🙂 Very cool at night as I remember. Hope to get to Zion one of these days!

    Happy to share your post at this evening’s Share Your Style #405 for you. <3
    Lots of fall hugs and wishing I was "out there" with you!
    Barb 🙂

    1. Thank you Barbara! That’s quite the story about your trip to Death Valley – wow! We hope you can visit Zion National Park one day – it’s so amazing! Also, thank you for the share – we appreciate your time doing these types of posts!

  2. So many treasures in the national parks! Thank you for including parks in the East as well as the West. You’re making me long for a road trip!

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

  3. Enjoyed this post! Fall is our favorite time to visit the parks, and we will be visiting Rocky Mountain National Park from October 5-12. We are looking to view all kinds of wildlife as you mentioned, and see some wildlife head-butting. I follow a group on Facebook, and am getting excited. I would like to horseback ride to explore the park, but I think it ends before we arrive.

    1. The elk rut at RMNP in the fall is amazing – enjoy your time there! October is our favorite time to travel due to the active wildlife. A horseback ride through the park would be fun for sure, hope you can do that one day!

  4. This is a wonderful post! We visited all 5 of Utah’s national parks in 2019 and a few of those plus Yellowstone in 2015. Another great tip is the lifetime park pass for those over 65. Let me personally invite you to visit our nation’s newest national park in West Virginia – New River Gorge! October is peak foliage, and you can whitewater raft, walk beneath the bridge, or simply hike and camp. Oh, and you can base jump on one day only, the third Sat of each October (Covid permitting). I’ve shared several posts on my blog of all of these adventures, but was drawn right in to your blog when I saw your feature on Life and Linda!
    Rita C at Panoply

  5. Gorgeous parks. Fall is such a pretty time of year. I have been to some of these parks. Maybe one day, we can check out more. Thanks for sharing. I am happy to feature your post at Love Your Creativity.

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