With the changing colors of leaves creating an awe-inspiring landscape that will take your breath away, here’s a list of US National Parks to visit in the fall.
When looking for US National Park vacation ideas, fall is a good time because crowds dwindle, temperatures become more moderate, fall foliage bursts with color, and wildlife is more active.
Each national park has different things to see and do during the autumn months of September, October and November.
Whether you’re looking for outdoor activities or just want to soak up some gorgeous scenery, there are plenty of reasons why visiting one of our nation’s parks during the fall months should be on your bucket list.
From spectacular foliage views and wildlife spotting opportunities to camping beneath starry night skies, here’s why you should visit US National Parks in the fall!
Use our US National Park Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in the fall! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!
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US National Parks to Visit in the Fall
Fall is the perfect time to explore America’s natural beauty, and there are plenty of incredible national parks that offer a unique experience during this season.
From vibrant foliage to stunning landscapes, these parks provide visitors with an unforgettable outdoor adventure.
When deciding the best National Parks to visit by month, be sure you know the weather, services, lodging, and activities available for the time you want to plan your trip.
Here’s a handy list of US National Parks to visit during the three months in the fall:
Whether you’re seeking an active vacation or just looking for some peaceful moments in nature, here are some of the best US national parks to visit in the fall.
Arches National Park in the Fall
Arches National Park is small, but there are so many Arches National Park gall activities to explore the red rock fins, spires, and over 2,000 arches!
It may seem odd to add Arches to this list since you won’t find colorful leaves during the fall, but we think autumn is the perfect time for exploring the Arches National Park fall hikes. The temperatures are more moderate than summer so you can explore the outdoors for the majority of the day.
Located in the Southeastern desert of Utah, be prepared for all types of weather when you visit Arches National Park in the fall. During the day it’s usually comfortable T-shirt weather. Early mornings and evenings are chilly. And it can get pretty cold at night. We have learned to be ready for any weather event by packing and dressing in layers!
Where to Stay Near Arches National Park
Canyonlands in the Fall
Places to Stay Near Canyonlands
- Where to stay near CanyonlandsCanyonlands National Park Camping
- RV Parks Near Canyonlands National Park
Capitol Reef in the Fall
Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is one of our favorite parks. When you plan a trip to Capitol Reef National Park in the fall, you’ll see colorful leaves along the Fremont River and enjoy outdoor activities in much cooler weather compared to the summer months.
There are many things to do in Capitol Reef National Park. We always find new things to see and photograph along the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive. The landscape in this park is stunning.
The Capitol Reef National Park fall hikes take you to bridges, through slot canyons, along petroglyphs and more. You may even be lucky to see the big horn sheep that climb along the steep rocks in the park.
But the most fun and unique Capitol Reef National Park fall activities is picking fruit from the orchards! There is a harvesting schedule to let you know what fruit will be in season when you visit the park. You can eat as much as you want while you’re in the orchard, and can pay a small fee for any fruit you want to take with you. It’s really fun to use the pickers to get the fruit that’s high in the trees.
Places to Stay Near Capitol Reef
- Places to Stay at Capitol Reef National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park Camping
- Hotels near Capitol Reef National Park
Denali in the Fall
Great Smoky Mountains in the Fall
Great Smoky Mountains Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Great Smoky Mountains
- Vacation Rentals Near Great Smoky Mountains
- Tours Near Great Smoky Mountains
Hot Springs in the Fall
Hot Springs National Park is located near Hot Springs, Arkansas. It’s a unique national park and extends into downtown Hot Springs. The park preserves and protects the natural hot springs in the area and the Bathhouse Row.
The natural hot springs were believed to be healing and medicinal in nature and numerous bathhouses sprung up to provide bath and spa services to rich clientele. Eight of the original bathhouses are preserved in the form of Bathhouse Row. You can tour the Fordyce Bathhouse which acts as a visitor center.
Hot Springs National Park also contains numerous hiking and biking trails and a tall observation tower. While Hot Springs National Park is great to visit throughout the year, it is especially spectacular in fall. Arkansas is known as the natural state and the forest containing Hot Springs National Park is full of oaks, maples, and dogwoods – trees that are known for their vivid fall color.
The hiking trails in Hot Springs National Park provide best peak fall foliage viewing opportunities. The observation tower has a 360 degree view of the park and surrounding mountains and offers stunning views in fall. The city of Hot Springs also hosts many festivals and events in fall, making it a perfect time to plan a trip to Hot Springs National Park. Photo and Article by Ketki – Dotted Globe
Lodging Near Hot Springs, Arkansas
North Cascades in the Fall
But, just before the snowfall begins, the trees turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red making North Cascades National Park a picture perfect fall destination! With over 600,000 acres, there is no shortage of places to explore within the park, including the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas.
North Cascades National Park is about a 2 hour drive from Seattle and the journey takes you along the absolutely breathtaking North Cascades Highway (Highway 20), which runs right through the park. Highway 20 is part of the larger 440-mile Cascade Loop scenic drive, which is the perfect accompaniment to a visit to North Cascades National Park. One of the best times to visit North Cascades National Park is during the fall. The park is free to visit and there is a really neat visitor center (near mile marker 120) that definitely warrants a visit. There are many things to do in North Cascades National Park. Ross Lake and Diablo Lake are two of the park’s highlights, in addition to the impressive Diablo Dam. Photo and Article by Toccara & Sam – Forget Someday Travel Blog
Lodging Near North Cascades
Shenandoah in the Fall
Where to Stay Near Shenandoah National Park
Yellowstone in the Fall
Places to Stay in West Yellowstone
- Holiday Inn, West Yellowstone
- ClubHouse Inn, West Yellowstone
- Kelly Inn, West Yellowstone
- → CHECK OUT more West Yellowstone hotels!
Yosemite in the Fall
Yosemite is a popular destination for hikers, campers, outdoorsmen, and photographers alike. Yosemite in the fall is a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoor activities at this national park.
Fall at Yosemite covers the months of October and November. While the park is open during these months, tumultuous weather patterns, fog, clouds, and snow may make it harder to explore. You may also come across some hazy or smoky conditions in the fall.
Many of the trees in Yosemite are evergreen, so it takes some time to find the spots that have deciduous trees turning into a warm rainbow of fall colors.
If you’re headed out to shoot some photos at Yosemite, check out Mirror Lake, Happy Isles, Valley Gates and Tunnel View!
Yosemite National Park Lodging and Tours
- Hotels Near Yosemite National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Yosemite National Park
- Tours Near Yosemite National Park
Zion in the Fall
Where to Stay Near Zion
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US National Park Planner
Check out the National Park Planner that includes blank packing list, daily itinerary, expense log, and photo spots pages to help you organize your vacation! Simply click on the image below to grab your free copy!