Visiting US National Parks in September

If you’re looking for a unique way to explore the United States, there’s no better time than September to visit our national parks. Don’t miss visiting this list of US national parks in September

Our number one US National Park vacation ideas is take a trip in the fall. There are fewer crowds, the weather is cooler and the changing colors are breathtaking.

best us national parks in september everything you need to know

America is home to some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. And in September, these sites are even more breathtaking as they come alive with fall foliage and vibrant colors.

With plenty of activities to do in September like hiking, biking, camping, or scenic drives, you’ll be sure to find something for everyone!

Use our US National Park Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in Sepember! 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 National Parks in September

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 Parks to visit in September with tips and ideas to help you plan your trip!

Landscape Arch in the spring
Landscape Arch

Arches National Park in September

Arches National Park is open 24/7. In September you’ll need an Arches Timed Entry Ticket to enter the park from 6 am to 5 pm. Don’t worry if you can’t get a ticket because you can still visit the park as long as you enter before 6 am. Time your entry so you can see and photograph the sunrise at Arches National Park!

Another option is to visit the park after 5 p.m. when the crowds in the late afternoon start to diminish. You won’t need a ticket to see and photograph the sunset at Arches National Park, or enjoy stargazing at night!

We love exploring the Arches National Park fall hikes because the weather is cooler than in the summer which allows us to hike around most of the day. 

Where to Stay Near Arches National Park

Mesa Arch at Canyonlands

Canyonlands in September

Canyonlands National Park is a vast expanse of red rock canyons, mesas and buttes that will take your breath away. 

Check out this article detailing the services and things to do at the two different districts: Canyonlands Island in the Sky vs Needles.

The weather in September is moderate so you can enjoy the outdoor Canyonlands National Park fall activities most of the day like hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and off-road driving!

Where to Stay Near Canyonlands

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

Capitol Reef National Park in September

One of the best Capitol Reef National Park fall activities is picking fruit from the orchard! In September you’ll be able to pick peaches, pears and apples, yum!

The Capitol Reef Fruita area is the main part of the park where you’ll find the Visitor Center, Gifford Homestead, blacksmith shop, barn, orchards, and campground.

Stopping at the Gifford Homestead you’ll find unique handmade items in the shop. In September you’ll enjoy locally baked fruit pies and homemade ice cream!

September also means cooler temperatures, which makes it the perfect time to enjoy the various Capitol Reef National Park fall hikes.

Places to Stay Near Capitol Reef

Glacier National Park in the fall
Glacier National Park in the fall

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.

Glacier National Park Lodging & Tours

Fall color is striking at Grand Teton National Park.
Fall color at Grand Teton

Grand Teton in September

Grand Teton is fully open in September which means all services and roads are open. The weather is really nice to enjoy all the outdoor activities you can do at this park!

You’ll find a variety of outdoor Grand Teton National Park fall activities 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 photographing Grand Teton National Park so you can remember your trip forever with incredible photographs.  

Where to Stay Near Grand Teton

Hot Spring National Park
Hot Spring National Park

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!

Lodging Near Hot Springs, Arkansas

Vibrant fall colors seen at Shenandoah National Park.
Vibrant fall colors at Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah in September

Visiting Shenandoah National Park in September is an ideal time to experience the beauty of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

As summer fades into fall, temperatures begin to cool down and leaves start changing color – adding even more beauty to the already stunning landscape.

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. 

Be sure to check out Skyline Drive. This scenic byway runs through the entire length of the park, providing panoramic views of the Appalachian Mountains from its many overlooks. You can even pull off at several different spots along the way and take short hikes or just admire the scenery.

Where to Stay Near Shenandoah National Park

elk at Yellowstone in September
Elk rut at Yellowstone in September

Yellowstone in September

While visiting Yellowstone National Park in September you will see the animals preparing for winter which is such a treat to see and photograph. September is one of the best times to visit Yellowstone for wildlife!

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 vacation planning guide to plan your trip! 

Where to Stay Near Yellowstone

Yosemite National Park in the fall

Yosemite National Park in September

Yosemite in the fall 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. There are plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts including hiking trails, camping sites and rock climbing opportunities.

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

Yosemite National Park Lodging and Tours

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

Zion National Park in September

Yes. The Zion National Park shuttle is running every day in September so check the shuttle schedule for the most updated information.

The other three Zion National Park scenic drives are open for you to drive your own car: Highway 9, Kolob Terrace Road and Kolob Canyon.

A September trip to Zion will be hot and crowded. Be sure to hit the shuttle, trails and Highway 9 scenic drive first thing in the morning!

In early September you will only see a little bit of fall color on the leaves at the higher elevations. By mid-September about 30 to 50 percent of the trees at the higher elevation have changed color. As late September comes around you will usually be able to see fall colors all over Zion National Park!

Where to Stay Near Zion


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