Fall is just around the corner, and we have been busy planning hikes in some of our favorite National Parks to enjoy the Autumn colors. Aside from the beautiful foliage, Fall means fewer crowds, and cooler temperatures perfect for hiking. We wish we could visit every park but Fall is short, so we've put 11 National Parks on our Fall hiking bucket list. Check out our picks below and start planning your Fall adventures in our National Parks.
You may have heard that you should visit Glacier National Park before the glaciers disappear completely, so we are putting this park on the top of our fall hiking bucket list. The colors are usually at their peak from the middle of September through early October.
Recommended Hike: Sun Point Trail
CloudLine is based in Seattle so we see Mount Rainier in the distance every day. Rainier's snowcapped peak is constantly calling to us and we hike there whenever we get a chance. Fall colors are usually in full swing by late September but at higher elevations can be seen as early as August.
Recommend Fall Hike: Reflection Lakes
Crater Lake is not only the deepest lake in the United States but it's also cradled inside the caldera of a collapsed volcano, making it the most awesome lake you've ever visited. Fall is a great time to see both colorful leaves, but also a chance to see wildlife busily prepping for winter. Fall colors can typically be seen from September through October.
Recommended Hike: Garfield Peak
Fall colors begin to appear in Yosemite a little later that the parks above. Plan your visit for late October thru November for the best colors. To see Fall foliage up close visit areas of lower elevation like Yosemite Valley or Wawona Meadows as the higher elevations predominantly feature evergreens.
Recommended Hike: Valley Loop Trail
Denali National Park is a great option for hikers who can't wait for Fall. The leaves often begin to change in August. Combine this with berry season and you are sure to have plenty of opportunities to see bears and other wildlife among the Fall colors.
Recommended Hike: Off trail in any direction visit www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/dayhiking.htm for official info on off trail hiking in Denali National Park and bear safety.
Fall is the perfect time to visit Zion National Park in southern Utah. Although the desert landscape doesn't offer as many Fall colors as other parks the temperatures will be perfect for hiking and the trails will be less crowded.
Recommended Hike: Observation Point
The Grand Tetons are some of the most spectacular mountains in our National Parks and in Fall the colors make them even grander. The aspens turn bright yellow in September with colors persisting into October.
Recommended Hike: Lupine Meadows
Shenandoah National Park is long and narrow with 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail running through it. Fall is a great time to encounter northbound thru-hikers as well as view autumn leaves. Autumn colors typically peak in mid October.
Recommended Hike: Any section of the Appalachian Trail
This coastal National Park features epic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the many small islands that are part of the park. Visit Acadia National Park in late September through late October for peak Fall colors.
Recommended Hike: Cadillac Mountain
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park spans North Carolina and Tennessee and is the most visited Park in the United States. Visiting in the Fall will avoid some of the congestion, but the Fall colors still draw a crowd. Colors are at their peak around mid October.
Recommended Hike: Shuckstack Fire Tower
Rocky Mountain National Park offers epic views from towering peaks. If you have the time to drive the main road through the park it is well worth it for the views from the many outlooks. Due to the high elevation, Fall colors typically arrive in early September.
Recommended Hike: Flattop Mountain