Top 7 U.S. National Parks To Visit This Fall
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Summer is perhaps the most popular season to visit national parks, but the other seasons can be a great visit as well. Some of the benefits of visiting out of season include fewer visitors than during the busier months. Additionally, a seasonal offer visit can lead to unique wildlife viewing opportunities and chances to experience parks in a new way. However, many parks have seasonal closures – with summer coming to an end, here are the 7 best national parks to visit in the fall, and what you need to know to plan your next trip.
1. Yellowstone National Park
By far, Yellowstone’s most popular season is summer – the park can accommodate over 800,000 visitors per month during peak months such as July and August. For comparison, the park typically sees only 30,000 visitors during the winter months. Due to its remote location, the park experiences seasonal closures in some areas, depending on weather and road conditions. However, several notable areas are open year round, including much of Mammoth (Mammoth Campground, General Store, and Post Office Welcome Visits 12 months a year). Additionally, many campgrounds and hotels remain open until late October or early November. Details on the exact seasonal closures are available on the park’s website.
2. Grand Canyon National Park
Although the Grand Canyon is in the desert, it still sees a considerable amount of snow. The good news is that the south shore of the park is open year round. It typically sees slightly fewer visitors outside of the summer months, which means fall can be a great time to visit and beat the crowds. The north shore, meanwhile, experiences seasonal closures. The exact date varies depending on the weather – usually closed in November or December. This means that those looking for an early to mid-fall trip may consider adding the North Rim to their itinerary. Those planning a fall trip later may want to check the NPS website for relevant closures and to keep their plans flexible in the event of inclement weather.
3. Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is another great park to visit in the fall if you’re looking to beat the crowds. A fall visit to Glacier can be especially memorable – the trees will change color and fewer people mean the wildlife will be more active. Going To The Sun Road – one of the main roads in the park – is currently scheduled to remain open until October 17.e – time permits. Accommodations such as hotels are not available in the fall, however, camping at campgrounds such as Apgar Campground is still available for visitors.
4. Zion National Park
A fall visit to Zion National Park can be a great choice for those looking for cooler – but not too cold – temperatures for outdoor activities, as well as seeing changing and vibrant leaves. Temperatures in the fall can drop to as low as 30, which means visitors may consider layering clothes or bringing a warm coat for their outdoor adventure. Many park amenities, including shuttles, operate throughout the fall, but with more limited hours.
5. Olympic National Park
Those near Washington state – or those looking to see a beautiful rainforest – will love a trip to Olympic National Park. In addition to seeing the Hoh Rainforest and enjoying a less populated trip, visitors can also expect to experience unique destinations such as the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, which offers daily passes to enjoy their hot mineral pool. As temperatures drop in Washington State, this can be a great travel idea. The springs remain open every day until October 31st, making it an ideal stopover for a trip from early to mid-autumn.
6. Joshua Tree National Park
Unlike some of the other parks on this list, which start to get less crowded in the fall, fall at Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular times to visit. This is due to the heat in the area, which begins to subside in the fall. While a fall visit doesn’t avoid other visitors, the cooler temperatures, gorgeous scenery, and unique foliage make fall one of the best times to visit Joshua Tree.
7. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
If you’re looking to see some truly stunning changing foliage, consider a trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. Beautiful all year round, the park’s forests have become a vibrant collage of color in the fall. Mid-October to late October is often considered the peak fall foliage season. In fact, October, in general, is a good time to see the leaves change.
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