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It’s no secret that our favorite time to travel is in the fall.

There are fewer crowds, the weather is cooler and the changing colors are breathtaking.

We are sharing our list of must-visit US national parks in September that you are not going to want to miss! 

Also check out our list of national park vacation ideas to help you plan an unforgettable trip!

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Visiting National Parks in September

September is the perfect time to plan a National Park trip

When visiting US National Parks in September, you will want to still arrive early so that you can get the most out of your trip.

A national park trip in the fall also allows you to have the best light to take the most incredible pictures. 

What to Pack for a National Park Trip in September

Don’t forget to download our US National Park Packing Checklist that has everything you need for your National Park visit in the fall. 

US National Park Pass

Hydration pack or refillable water bottles

Healthy snacks

Fall hiking shoesWe love Merrell Moab and Oboz hiking shoes!

Fall hiking socks → Darn Tough socks are the BEST!

Fall clothing layers: long sleeve wicking shirts | hiking pants

Rain jacket

Fleece jacket


Camera gear → Use our photography gear checklist so you don’t forget anything!

National Park maps and guides


Best List of National Parks to Visit in September


Glacier National Park in September

September is one of the best times to enjoy outdoor activities at Glacier: rafting, fishing, biking and hiking.

The weather at Glacier in September means sunny days (but not too hot) and cooler nights. 

Wildlife is on the move in September at Glacier National Park. Fall is a perfect time for hikes and scenic rides to see the animals. 

You will see grizzly bears, mountain goats, and moose. In addition to these amazing mammals, you will see hundreds of different species of birds.


elk at Yellowstone in September

Don’t miss the elk rut at Yellowstone in September!


Yellowstone in September

Yellowstone in the fall is one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to national parks. There are way fewer people and tour buses which allows you to just explore without the crowds. 

While visiting Yellowstone National Park in September you will see the animals preparing for winter which is such a treat to see and photograph.

The elk rut is one of the most exciting things happening in September at Yellowstone. You’ll experience the thrill of watching, hearing and photographing the male elk during this time.

When visiting Yellowstone in September, you don’t want to forget your camera because there are many geysers, hot pools and Yellowstone waterfalls to photograph that you don’t want to miss!

It’s important to dress in layers while visiting Yellowstone in the fall because the weather is so unpredictable. It’s common for snow to fall in September at Yellowstone!

Be sure to use this Yellowstone planning guide to help plan your vacation. 



Arches National Park in September

One of the best National Parks to visit in September is Arches National Park. There is so much to do and see while visiting Arches

We love hiking in Arches in September because the weather is cooler than in the summer which allows us to hike around most of the day. 

By September the mornings and evenings may be chilly since it’s a desert climate, but the temperatures will warm up during the day. Wearing layers is key while visiting. 



3 Day Itinerary for Arches & Canyonlands


Yosemite National Park in September

Yosemite is an absolutely spectacular sight, especially in September.

Known for its evergreen trees, hiking trails, and epic waterfalls you’ll enjoy the outdoor activities at Yosemite in September.

September is the perfect time to visit Yosemite National Park because fewer people are visiting and the air is cooler.

The waterfalls are still incredible during the fall, just not as raging as they are during the spring.


Grand Teton in September

Grand Teton National Park is fun to visit in September.

You’ll find a variety of outdoor activities to do in the fall at Grand Teton like hiking, biking, ranger-led programs, taking photographs of the foliage and maybe hearing an elk bugle!

It’s hard to predict when the fall color will be at its peak, but it’s usually some time in September.

While visiting you will want to take advantage of the best Tetons photo spots so you can remember your trip forever with incredible photographs.  


Fall color is striking at Grand Teton National Park.

Fall color is striking at Grand Teton National Park.


Zion National Park in September

When you are thinking about the best national parks to visit in September, don’t forget about Zion National Park

When visiting Zion in September you will find smaller crowds and cooler temperatures compared to the summer.

Cooler mornings and evenings will allow you to enjoy all the best hikes of Zion

Be sure to grab our Zion planning guide to make a list of fun things to do while visiting. 



Capitol Reef National Park in September

Capitol Reef National Park is a must when it comes to deciding which are the best national parks to visit in September.

Fall is the prime season to pick fruit from the orchards at Capitol Reef. This ends up being the favorite thing people like to do at the park.

September also means cooler temperatures, which makes it the perfect time to enjoy the various hiking trails at Capitol Reef.

Make sure you know what to pack and which trails to explore before hiking in Capitol Reef National Park.


Picking fruit in the fall at Capitol Reef is so fun!

Picking fruit in the fall at Capitol Reef is so fun!


Canyonlands in September

Canyonlands is a must stop destination if you’re in the Moab, Utah area, and already visiting nearby Arches. 

If you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and offroad driving, then be sure to plan a trip to Canyonlands Island in the Sky or Canyonlands Needles.

The weather at Canyonlands in September is moderate so you can enjoy the outdoors most of the day!

Check out these tips for visiting Canyonlands which includes what to pack, where to stay, and things to do while visiting.  



Hot Springs National Park in September

Located in Arkansas, Hot Springs National Park was created by the government wanting to protect the hot springs flowing from the slope of the Hot Springs Mountain.

Mid-September ends the hot season at the park, so it’s a good time to visit.

Enjoy the outdoors at Hot Springs with over 30 miles of hiking trails, plenty of scenic roads to drive, and picnic areas.

A visit to Hot Spring National Park is not complete until you enjoy bathing in the hot spring waters at Buckstaff Baths while there!


Vibrant fall colors seen at Shenandoah National Park.

Vibrant fall colors seen at Shenandoah National Park.


Shenandoah National Park in September

Shenandoah National Park is gorgeous in the fall making it an absolute must to go and visit in September. 

As you visit Shenandoah in September, you are almost guaranteed to see the most beautiful landscape as the leaves begin to change to orange, red, and yellow. 

It is more crowded in the fall than the rest of the year, but with over 500 miles of hiking trails, you will not feel like it is too crowded at all. 

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