Best National Parks to Visit in the Fall

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You could travel along countless highways and country roads for a spectacular display of fall’s finest colors. Or, you spend a day surrounded by autumnal splendor at one of the nation’s 59 national parks. After sweating in the summer heat, fill your lungs with crisp air in an idyllic landscape that serves as the perfect backdrop for the season’s colorful expressions. Whether you’re flying out in a private jet for a rugged retreat or a relaxing glamping getaway, a trip to nature’s classroom is a great way to catch some R&R before the holiday season begins.

National Parks to Charter a Flight to in Autumn

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

One of the country’s lesser-known parks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland and Akron turns into a majestic destination in mid-October when fiery reds, bright yellows, and mesmerizing orange colors accent its 70 waterfalls. One of the best ways to see the display is from the comfort of a train on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. For a more active adventure, kayak along the Cuyahoga River or ramble along the 125-plus miles of hiking trails.

Acadia National Park, Maine

The first place in the country to see the sunrise from October 7 to March 6, Acadia National Park is in the heart of leaf peeping territory. During the fall, the usually-packed park is more peaceful as it displays a mix of gold, red, orange and evergreen colors from birch, maple and poplar trees. Hike the historic carriage roads and drive along the rocky coastline’s scenic loop. Trek up Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in the North Atlantic seaboard, for sweeping views of Mount Desert Island before treating yourself to pumpkin caramel or maple walnut ice cream from island’s namesake ice cream shop.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, and Tennessee

The autumn leaf season at Great Smoky Mountains National Park lasts several weeks as the elevation differences cause fall colors to stream down the mountainsides. Leaves start turning as early as mid-September as beech, hobblebush, pin cherry, maples, sweetgum, scarlet oak, hickory, and birch trees prepare for their seasonal dormancy. The colors at elevations above 4,000 feet develop in early to mid-October, making drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Foothills Parkway, and Clingmans Dome Road fantastic. At lower elevations, fall colors peak between mid-October and early November. Fall is a busy and beautiful time to visit Great Smoky Mountains, National Park. Beat the crowds by planning a weekday visit. The National Parks service also suggests touring the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway, as well as half-dozen hiking trails, to experience the beautiful displays in less crowded areas.

Crater Lake, Oregon

The best time to visit Crater Lake National Park is in the early fall months before the snow falls in mid-October and after the summer tourists are gone. Crater Lake formed almost 8,000 years ago when a massive eruption collapsed Mount Mazama’s peak. Rain and snowmelt filled the 1,943-foot caldera, making it the deepest lake in the U.S. and the ninth deepest in the world. Because of its brilliant blue water, scientists deem it as the cleanest and clearest body of water in the world. Beyond the lake, old-growth trees cover the park’s landscape. Charter or rent a boat to see the trees and 2,000-foot cliffs from a unique point of view. Keep your eyes open for bald eagles; wildlife is more abundant this time of year.

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