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Top 4 National Parks to Visit in Fall

Are you looking for the perfect place to fulfill your fall foliage wanderlust? Visit any of these five national parks this fall when the changing palette of green trees begins taking on hues of gold, orange and red. Plus, Nov. 11, Veterans Day, is your last chance to visit a national park for free in 2022, just in time to see those famous fall colors up close.

1. Shenandoah National Park

Virginia is for (fall) lovers and the best place to visit when fall foliage is at its fiery peak is Shenandoah National Park. It’s one of those lesser-known national parks but it holds treasures of its own, especially in late October to early November. Shenandoah National Park is actually one of America’s most accessible parks, located about an hour away by car (75 miles) from Washington, D.C. and surrounded by charming towns like Charlottesville and Harrisonburg. Some hidden treasures here include more than 200,000 acres of waterfalls, 500 miles of hiking trails, campsites and outdoor recreation. It’s easy to hit the road and take in the plum-colored sumacs and deep purple dogwoods while driving down Skyline Drive, a 105-mile stretch filled with incredible vistas from 75 overlooks of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Peak fall foliage: Fall Foliage Prediction Map projects Oct. 11-25, 2021

Where to stay: The DoubleTree by Hilton Harrisonburg , located 21.7 miles away from Shenandoah National Park and 9.7 miles from the Shenandoah Valley Airport (SHD).

2. Grand Teton National Park

Wyoming is wild, wonderful and especially colorful during fall at its gorgeous glacial park – Grand Teton National Park. From the third week in September through early October, hikers, botanists and photographers fall in love with the yellows and golds that make everything about Grand Teton grand. More than 200 miles of hiking trails, quaking aspen along the slopes and narrowleaf cottonwoods covering the banks of the Snake River and other streams make this one of the best national parks for fall photography. You’ll find some of the best fall colors that make for excellent backdrops along scenic drives to Oxbow Bend, along Antelope Flats and on the Inner Loop Road. Also, be sure to listen for eerie elk bugles in the park – a key sign of autumn ambiance in the Tetons.

Peak fall foliage: The third week of September through early October

Where to stay: Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa , located just one mile away from Grand Teton National Park and eight miles from the Jackson Hole Airport (JAC).

3. Acadia National Park

Maine is one of America’s favorite fall destinations and it’s home to the only national park in New England: Acadia National Park. This picturesque park on the coast of Maine starts cooling off in late August and by mid-October, tourism picks up. Its peak weeks in fall are filled with famous foliage covered in fiery autumnal colors and crisp, refreshing air to experience endless fall possibilities. Beginning in early October and lasting until early March, Acadia National Park also has the distinction of being the first place in the U.S. to see the spectacular sunrise every morning from the 1,530-foot summit of Cadillac Mountain. Acadia National Park is also dubbed “the crown jewel of the North Atlantic Coast,” where outdoor lovers will be in their element from finding various wildlife, ocean-front landscapes, mountain bike tracks and 160 miles of hiking trails to explore. You can easily explore plenty of the park by car – plus, your furry travel companion can ride shotgun since this is also a pet-friendly national park.

Peak Fall Foliage: Mid-October

Where to stay: The Lucerne Inn is 23.7 miles away from Acadia National Park and 20.9 miles away from Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport (BHB).

4. Arches National Park

Utah is the ultimate and underrated state to visit in fall because of Arches National Park. It’s one of the most popular parks in the U.S. and has something for everyone. Visiting this red-rock wonderland is like stepping into another world. While it’s known for its incredible orange and red rock landscapes year-round, fall is the best time to visit for hiking, camping, 4x4 tours, stargazing, rock-climbing and scenic flights. The autumn air is cool and tolerable in mid-October, which makes it a hot spot for hiking. Some fall favorite hikes to consider are the famous Delicate Arch or visit easier hikes to the Landscape Arch, North & South Windows, Balanced Rock and Sand Dune Arch as well.

Peak Fall Foliage: Mid-October

Where to stay: Westgate Park City Resort is around 230 miles away from Arches National Park and 34.2 miles away from Salt Lake City Airport (SLC).

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