Special Report

The Best National Parks to Visit in the Fall

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16. Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, Alaska
> Visits in 2018: 597,915
> Change in visits from 2017: 9.3%

Autumn is a busy time for wildlife in Glacier Bay National Park, as salmon spawn, migratory birds take off for warmer climates, beavers cache food for the long winter, and moose and black tailed-deer rut. Most people visit the park by boat or cruise ship to get up close to the massive glaciers.

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15. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
> Visits in 2018: 720,659
> Change in visits from 2017: 1.3%

The deepest lake in the United States, Crater Lake was formed just 7,700 years ago during a volcanic eruption. The waters are incredibly blue and clean and create a marvelous backdrop for the fiery foliage visible in autumn. Be sure to come in by mid-October before snow starts to accumulate.

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14. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
> Visits in 2018: 749,389
> Change in visits from 2017: 5.8%

A drive along the Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit Scenic Byway is sure to dazzle, as the banks of the Little Missouri River are lined with aspens that blaze orange and yellow in autumn. Wildlife is abundant among the prairies, buttes, and sandstone spires that make up the park.

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13. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
> Visits in 2018: 1,227,627
> Change in visits from 2017: 6.7%

Although much of Capitol Reef National Park is comprised of barren, towering geologic formations, the cottonwood groves along the Fremont River turn yellow against the red sandstone in early November. A unique perk of visiting Capitol Reef in autumn is the opportunity to pick your own apples at the historic Fruita Orchard within the park.

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12. Sequoia National Park, California
> Visits in 2018: 1,229,594
> Change in visits from 2017: -4.8%

The redwoods at Sequoia National Park don’t produce autumn foliage, but many of the understory plants do. Dogwoods, ferns, and blue oaks provide a colorful contrast to the evergreen trees. Head to one of the less trafficked areas of the park, the 7,500-foot high Mineral King Valley, to see the cottonwood and aspen groves blaze yellow.