Each summer, millions of people head into the great outdoors to enjoy America’s national parks. And while the warmer months are no doubt the most popular time to visit parks overall, there are still some parks that are just as good – or even better – to visit in the fall. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a lengthier fall vacation, here are the top five national parks to visit this fall.
1. Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon isn’t just one of America’s most recognizable and iconic natural features. It’s also a great destination for a fall vacation. Temperatures can be well over 100°F in the summer at the Grand Canyon. While it can still be warm in the area through the fall, average temperatures do start to drop down to a more manageable range of 70 -80°F. This means that October and November are great months to visit. Both the south rim and north rim are open in the fall, with the north rim only open for day use in November before closing for the winter on December 1. Some of the many things to do at the Grand Canyon include hiking, sightseeing, mule trips, and educational ranger programs.
2. Joshua Tree National Park
Here’s another national park that’s a great choice to visit in the fall because of dropping temperatures. Joshua Tree National Park’s desert location means extreme heat can make it difficult to enjoy the park in the summer months. A fall visit will allow you to enjoy countless hiking trails with cooler weather.
Those planning a trip will likely want to look into accommodations ahead of time – Joshua Tree National Park is fairly remote. There are two main towns nearby: Twenty-Nine Palms and a town also named Joshua Tree. Camping is also a possibility in the park, but you’ll want to make sure to try to get a reservation as soon as possible (particularly if you’re looking for a campsite with amenities).
3. Acadia National Park
While cooler weather can be a great reason to visit some national parks in the fall, it’s not the only reason you should consider heading out to explore some of them. Acadia National Park is located in Maine, where temperatures begin to get a bit chillier as fall comes around. October and November are still a great time to visit, though, as Summer crowds have begun to thin out. Perhaps the best reason to plan a fall trip is the season offers a unique opportunity for amazing fall leaf displays in the park. There are plenty of other things to see and do at Acadia as well, including day hikes and wildlife watching.
4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is another excellent choice for those looking to see some changing colors alongside their outdoor adventure. Located on the border between North Caroline and Tenessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not only home to gorgeous fall leaf displays, but also countless hiking trails, as well as wildlife such as black bears and white-tailed deer.
5. Big Bend National Park
To finish the list off, here’s a hidden gem! Big Bend is one of the lesser-known, lesser-visited National Parks, partially thanks to its remote location. Lesser known doesn’t mean less to do, however. The park is home to countless hiking trails, opportunities for river rafting and kayaking trips, camping, and even hot springs. Like Joshua Tree, fall is one of the better times to visit, as the area enjoys cooler weather.
If you’re looking for a remote getaway that’s likely to have fewer crowds than some of the others on this list, Big Bend National Park is more than worth your consideration. Due to the park’s remote location, a little under 6 hours from San Antonio, you’ll likely want to make at least a weekend of the trip. If you do so, staying in or checking out the small, quirky town of Marfa, an hour and a half outside the park, can be another fun thing to do in the area.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com