There are 58 national parks in the U.S., sprawling from the banks of Alaska to the Florida Keys. These protected places give Americans and visitors a place to play, explore, learn, and grow.
There’s a lot of ground to cover when it comes to national parks, and we think fall is the perfect time to check a few off your list. Now that the summer vacation crowds are thinning, pick a park you’ve never been to, or dive deeper into one close to home. Here are our five favorite national parks, just in time for fall road-trips.
Known for Half Dome, El Capitan, and the daring climbers that scale their faces, Yosemite is a great choice for hiking, backpacking, and awe-inducing rock formations. American climbing history began in this valley, at Camp 4 nearly 50 years ago, beginning what many call the “golden age of climbing.” But you don’t have to be a daredevil rock climber to enjoy the sweeping views of this great valley of granite. There are 1,200 square miles of giant saquioas, waterfalls, hiking paths, and plenty of intimate corners of wilderness for you to enjoy.
Along Maine’s shoreline is a densely forested island park. With opportunities for fishing, hiking, sailing, and so much more, Acadia is high on our list for favorite fall destinations. When the leaves begin to change this park is pure magic. We recommend staying at Blackwoods Campground for its incredible views.
Traveling to the south means not quite as many changing leaves, but fall is still the perfect time to visit the national parks in the southern part of the country. These parks, which see upwards of 100-degree temps in the summer, begin their cool down in September and October, resulting in perfect weather for hiking, camping, and sitting around the campfire.
Big Bend is vast and isolated — a mountain range in west Texas, completely surrounded by desert. The limestone peaks and valleys create stunning southwestern scenery and dark starry nights. This shot was taken at Pine Canyon Campground.
Covered in fall colors, Shenandoah National Park is the place to be in the coming months. The Skyline drive, weaving through the Shenandoah valley, is excellent for capturing the beauty of the season. We recommend staying at Lewis Mountain campground, located inside the park.
You may have never heard of this incredible park with the most legendary name. Gates of the Arctic is located in the rugged and raw state of Alaska. The fall colors are stunning, but the season here is short as winter looms and the sun sets earlier and earlier. Stay at Marion Creek Campground, just a short drive out of the park.
These parks are calling your name this fall. Make a reservation at one, or take a long road-trip and visit all five. Don’t forget to pack your layers as the nights get cooler.