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 National Parks in the Fall
Here’s the list of gear we recommend for a National Park trip in the fall:
1. US National Parks Pass: You can order passes online or get them at any of these Federal Recreation Areas.
→ BUY THE PASS AT REI and they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.
2. Fall Hiking Shoes: → Check out our FAVORITE hiking shoes/boots!
3. Fall Hiking Socks: → Check out the BEST SOCKS EVER!
4. Fall Clothing for Hiking (Layers)
8. Flashlight: → Check out the headlamps we like
11. Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)
12. Hand sanitizer
13. First aid kit
14. Bags to pack out trash
Best List of National Parks to Visit in September
Arches National Park
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.
- Arches National Park Travel Guide
- Arches & Canyonlands 3 Day Itinerary
- Arches in the Fall
- Arches in the Winter
- Arches National Park Hiking Trails
- Arches Packing List
- Where to Stay in Moab Near Arches
- Tours Near Moab, Utah
Where to Stay Near Arches:
- 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. → Book the Purple Sage via Airbnb
- 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!
- Condos south of town – we really like the King size bed in the master, washer and dryer in the unit and a swimming pool/hot tub (just a 5 minute drive south of Moab).
Canyonlands is a must stop destination if you’re in the Moab, Utah area, and already visiting nearby Arches.
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.
- Tips for Visiting Canyonlands National Park
- Things to Do at Canyonlands Island in the Sky
- Visit Needles Canyonlands
- Arches & Canyonlands 3 Day Itinerary
- Where to Stay Near Canyonlands
- TOURS Near Canyonlands
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.
Places to Stay Near Capitol Reef
- Capitol Reef Resort – this is where we stay! Make it a unique experience and stay in a teepee or covered wagon!
- Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel – basic rooms and cabins with a deli and store right on the property which is so convenient!
- Airbnb Rentals near Capitol Reef – we like finding a place with a kitchen so we can prepare our own food.
Glacier National Park
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.
Glacier NP Lodging & Tours
- Glacier National Park Hotels
- Glacier National Park Vacation Rentals at Airbnb
- Glacier National Park Tours
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.
Grand Canyon Lodging & Tours
Hot Springs National Park
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!
Lodging Near Hot Springs, Arkansas
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.
Where to Stay Near Shenandoah National Park
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.
- Yellowstone Vacation Planner + 4 Day Itinerary
- How to Plan the Perfect Yellowstone Vacation
- Yellowstone in the Winter
- Visit Yellowstone in the Fall
- Yellowstone Waterfalls
- Yellowstone Tours
Places to stay in West Yellowstone that we recommend:
Places to stay in Gardiner that we recommend:
Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner – full kitchen and comfy bed, one of our favorite places to stay!
Park Hotel Yellowstone, Gardiner – charming place to stay and loved by guests!
Absaroka Lodge, Gardiner – beautiful location with river views!
Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate that we recommend:
Sunny Log Home on the Creek, Silver Gate (VRBO) – the most AMAZING location with an awesome fireplace and comfy bed!
High Country Motel and Cabins – local owners who love what they do, and make you feel so welcome!
Yosemite National Park
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.
Yosemite National Park Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Yosemite National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Yosemite National Park
- Tours Near Yosemite National Park
Zion National Park
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.
- Zion National Park Travel Guide
- Zion Hiking Trails
- Zion National Park in the Summer
- Zion National Park in the Fall
- Zion National Park in the Winter
- Zion National Park Tours
Where to Stay Near Zion
You definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to Zion. Here are a few of our favorite places to stay close to Zion:
- Holiday Inn Express – our favorite place to stay with an outdoor pool and amenities you’d find in a high end hotel
- Zion Lodge – we haven’t had a chance to stay here yet, but you can’t go wrong staying right IN the park!
- Under Canvas Zion – if you want to experience a less crowded part of Zion, this is the place! It’s in the Kolob section of the park.
- Airbnb Rentals in Springdale – you’ll want to stay in Springdale so you’re close to the park entrance and can walk to shopping and restaurants.
- RENT A TENT near Zion through Airbnb!!
FALL VACATION IDEAS
- US Fall Vacation Ideas
- US Fall Road Trip Destinations
- US National Parks in the Fall
- Arches National Park in the Fall
- Bryce Canyon in the Fall
- Grand Teton in the Fall
- Yellowstone in the Fall
- Zion in the Fall
- Fall Hiking in the US
- Fall Hiking Trails at US National Parks