1. Home
  2. Travel
  3. National Parks
  4. Find Your Adventure: A Half-Dozen Fall Color Hot Spots

Find Your Adventure: A Half-Dozen Fall Color Hot Spots

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine


When you think about national parks, you may think of them as a summertime thing. But the fact is many of the parks we’ve profiled in our yearlong ‘Find Your Adventure’ series here and in the pages of MotorHome magazine look their best in the fall.

While the vistas will vary from place to place, the one thing that remains constant is that the changing autumn colors (in case you’re curious, here’s an explanation of where those fall colors come from) will help you see these six national parks in a whole new way:

Mount Rainier National Park

In addition to the most glaciated peak in the Lower 48, this national park southeast of Seattle is home to elderberry, huckleberry, aspen, cottonwood, vine maple, willow and tamarack (aka western larch) that will be exploding into hues of gold, amber and crimson over the next few weeks.

Best Time To Go: Late September

Zion National Park

As if Zion was not colorful enough as it is, fall adds yet more hues to Mother Nature’s palette, including reds and golds that contrast nicely with the park’s evergreens and red rock walls. Color in the high country can fade by mid-October, but in the valley the show can continue all the way through the beginning of November.

Best Time To Go: Late September-OctoberSeptember – October

Rocky Mountain National Park

Know the old cliché about there being gold in them thar hills? In this case we’re talking not about the shiny nuggets that brought so many prospectors here in the late 19th century, but the shimmering golden leaves of the quaking aspen that are set off against the park’s pine forests and imposing mountain peaks.

Best Time To Go: Late September

Grand Canyon/North Rim

Often considered the forgotten Grand Canyon, the North Rim’s 8,000-foot elevation means autumn comes on relatively early in the season, with the changing leaves of aspen, birch, maple and oak trees adding splashes of color to the area’s ponderosa pine forests, a view all those people thronging the South Rim will never get to see.

Best Time To Go: Late September

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

With some of the largest stands of old-growth birch, poplar and oak forests in the eastern U.S., it should come as no surprise that this popular park (with over 10 million visitors annually, it’s the most visited in the U.S.) is home to awe-inspiring displays of yellows, oranges, reds and even purples as the season progresses.

Best Time To Go: Mid-to-late October

Acadia National Park

More than just a great place to hobnob with moose, the beech, birch, elm and maple forests of this park on Maine’s Mount Desert Island consistently make it a top destination for leaf-peepers looking to experience one of the most dramatic unfoldings of fall colors anywhere in the country.

Best Time To Go: Early to mid-October


Alan Riderfind your adventurenational parks

Subscribe to Wildsam Magazine today, Camping World and Good Sam’s magazine of the open road.

Just $19.97 for a year’s subscription.


Please login or register to view archived articles.

Sign In

Do not have an account? Create New Account