4 National Parks Ideal for Fall Visits

4 National Parks Ideal for Fall Visits
While summer has long been considered the time for vacations, there are many advantages to traveling during the autumn months. Not only are there usually fewer crowds, autumn is a time of brightly colored foliage, cooler weather and increased wildlife movement. And when it comes to finding the perfect destination for fall travels, the national parks located across the nation are hard to beat.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Reputed to have the largest number of old growth trees in the eastern United States along with some of the tallest peaks east of the Rocky Mountains, the fall months will find the park ablaze with the colors of autumn. According to Fodor's, the park is considered a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage site because of its numerous species of trees and birds. In addition, wildlife from bear to salamanders is abundant. Located on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, those who enjoy hiking will be able to follow the Appalachian Trail through the park along the mountain crests, and there are several other trails for those who would prefer lower elevations. If fishing is your thing, there are 600 miles of trout streams. If time doesn't permit lengthy activities, the park can still be enjoyed by taking advantage of the numerous roadside turnouts in its 800 square miles.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

While a desert might not seem the best destination any time of year, those who travel to Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park will be richly rewarded. Aptly named for its towering sand dunes, the park also boasts a diversity of life that's hard to find anywhere else. While the shifting dunes may attract the most attention, the park also includes lush forest growth, wetlands and tall mountain peaks. There is also plenty of wildlife including pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, deer and a large herd of bison. Vegetation varies from the prickly pear cactus of the desert region to the pine and fir trees in the mountain area. Dune climbing and hiking are among the most popular activities with some trails offering a change of 2,000 feet in elevation over their course.

Acadia National Park

The oldest national park east of the Mississippi, Acadia National Park offers a breathtaking view of the Maine coastline as well as containing mountain vistas and spectacular fall foliage. The park also comes complete with a lighthouse and plenty of trails for biking and hiking, as well as numerous chances for fishing, boating and camping. When it comes to wildlife, there are lots of "watching" opportunities from bird to whale.

Yellowstone National Park

It's hard to beat Yellowstone when it comes to the best parks to visit during the fall. Yellow, gold, red and orange foliage often contrasts with the greens of fir and pine trees and bright blue skies. The steam from erupting geysers gives an almost ethereal quality to the landscape as herds of elk, deer, moose and bison begin to migrate across the vast acreage, often followed by wolves. Visitors can sometimes catch glimpses of black bears and the occasional grizzly. Ducks, geese and swans can often be seen as they pass overhead. The park offers plenty of chances for hiking and fishing, and there are several locations that provide camping for longer stays. One trip to Yellowstone and it's easy to see why this became the nation's first national park.

Article Written By Carolyn Kaberline

Carolyn Kaberline has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her articles have appeared in local, regional and national publications and have covered a variety of topics. In addition to writing, she's also a full-time high-school English and journalism teacher. Kaberline earned a Bachelor of Arts in technical journalism from Kansas State University and a Master of Arts in education from Baker University.

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