Special Report

The Best National Parks to Visit in the Fall

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6. Acadia National Park, Maine
> Visits in 2018: 3,537,575
> Change in visits from 2017: 0.8%

Autumn can be busy in Acadia National Park as leaf-peepers flood the roads, but in mid-October the crowds die down and the trees still boast an array of colors. From the wetlands to the rocky shoreline to the mountain peaks, Acadia’s diverse landscape is awash with colors until late October.

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5. Yosemite National Park, California
> Visits in 2018: 4,009,436
> Change in visits from 2017: -7.6%

The fall shoulder season in Yosemite is well worth the lack of amenities. Many park services shut down at the end of September, but October is the time for seeking foliage. Black oaks, dogwoods, and maples show off their colors amongst the more numerous evergreens from mid to late October. Be sure to check weather reports, as snow sometimes falls before November.

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4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
> Visits in 2018: 4,115,000
> Change in visits from 2017: 0.0%

Cooler temperatures mean fewer humans but more wildlife in Yellowstone National Park. Bears, hawks, and elk are common sights, but be sure to follow park regulations and maintain a safe distance from the animals. For foliage viewing, the more colorful spots in the park are the Lamar Valley, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Blacktail Plateau Drive.

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3. Zion National Park, Utah
> Visits in 2018: 4,320,033
> Change in visits from 2017: -4.1%

The red sandstone canyons and cliffs that Zion is famous for only become more picturesque as autumn colors engulf the lowlands and river flats. Late October is a great time to view the foliage, when crowds are thin and temperatures are comfortable. A free shuttle bus ride down the Zion Canyon Scenic Byway which is closed to private vehicles through November, when the shuttle stops running is one of the best ways to easily take in the scenery.

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2. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
> Visits in 2018: 4,590,493
> Change in visits from 2017: 3.5%

As early as late August, the quaking aspens at higher altitudes in Rocky Mountain National Park begin turning yellow. By mid-September the colors peak across the park, and the elk travel to lower elevations to breed. While there isn’t really a bad spot for viewing the foliage, Bear Lake Road and the Trail Ridge Road are some of the best.