With all the family sedans and fanny pack toting tourists absent from national parks in the United States these days, you might be tempted to think that there is nothing worth seeing here as the downward spiral towards winter has begun in earnest.
However, it is this lack of people (as well as mosquitoes) that gives these natural reserves the appeal that they ought to have during the summer. Lacking many of these irritants, as well as a liberal splash of color as the leaves on deciduous trees begin to change from a uniform green to a symphony of reds, oranges and yellows, ending off the warmer months of the year with authority.
Which American national parks should you visit this fall when you find yourself with a free weekend? These parks stand out from the lot with characteristics that will make your outing the highlight of your Autumn.
1) Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
If you are in the Mountain West, no park translates the might of the Rocky Mountain front quite like Grand Teton National Park. The tall spires of limestone and shale and cloaked in their first fresh blanket of fresh powder since the spring, the male elk are dueling for mating supremacy with each other, and the cottonwoods and aspens are ablaze in a fervent glow of yellow and orange hues.
In the evening, put on a sweater, get out your guitar and strum some tunes by a warm bonfire – in a place like this, getting your cowboy on is nearly mandatory.
2) Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee And North Carolina
Those further east have a fair bit of selection when it comes to parks suitable for leaf peeping fans. The best of the lot however is none other than Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is strung along some of the hilliest sections of the Appalachians.
The vast variety of leafy trees here offers a kaleidoscope of colors: crimson res, yellow, orange and even purple! The problem with this park is that everyone from the Mid-Atlantic region and the Southeast is thinking the same thing you are, so try to visit during the week, or wake up early in the morning on weekends.
3) Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
In the Pacific Northwest, the high elevations of the Cascade and Coast ranges make it difficult to see these places without wading through waist-deep snow much of the year. Fortunately, the fall is often the best time to see national parks like Crater Lake, as the snow from the previous winter has completely melted off, while the impending winter’s snow isn’t due to fall for a few weeks yet.
Don’t procrastinate when it comes to seeing sights like one of the deepest volcanic lakes in the world though, as you can never tell when the first sticking snow event of the year is going to happen in these parts!