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National Parks to Visit for Fall Colors [PICS]

Thinking of squeezing one last outdoor trip in before the weather turns frigid?

Want to see some of the gorgeous scenery our country offers across its varied terrains this time of year? Check out the National Parks we think are the most beautiful to visit for fall colors.

Mary's rock, shenandoah, in Autumn

Autumn is here and for many this means less trips to the wonderful National Parks spread across the country. But, it isn’t too late yet. With a few months of autumn left there is plenty of time to make it out to at least one of these sublime locations. Even if you aren’t camping or hiking you can always make a quick trip to take in the stunning view of the fall colors.

View the slideshow to check out the best National Parks to see fall colors.

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Glacier National Park – Montana

Fall colors in Glacier National Park

Photo via David Restivo, NPS

Located far to the north of Montana on the US-Canadian border, this park may be one of the hardest to get to in the lower 48 states. However, the beautiful fall colors, as well as impressive cliff faces, waterfalls, and wildlife, will immediately make it one of your favorite locations and well worth the trip.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Ohio

Fall colors in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Photo via Erik Drost

This park is smaller than most, but features some exceptionally impressive and varied scenery. Wooded rivers, cliffs, waterfalls, rolling hills, and a 20 mile proximity to Cleveland make this park a fantastic place to visit on a quick weekend trip for you midwesterners out there. This is a great place to see the fall colors against the light blue backdrop of the sky and jovial green foreground of the plains.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – North Carolina, Tennessee

Fall colors in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Photo via Carl Wycoff

This park is situated in the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains and is renowned for the hundreds of miles of magnificent trails that carve through its misty mountains. Aptly named, Great Smoky Mountains is a great place to enjoy the primordial wonder that is Appalachia.

Capitol Reef National Park – Utah

Fall colors in Capitol Reef National Park

Photo via John Fowler

This desert park may not seem like the best spot for fall colors and it isn’t for variation. You wont get a lot of reds or dark oranges, but the gold that appears throughout autumn against the white and red rock is spectacular in its own right and it makes this park worth the trip. This park has the added bonus of adhering to 70 degree days throughout fall, a big improvement from the scorching heat of summer you can expect in this area of the country.

Zion National Park – Utah

Fall colors in Zion National Park

Photo via John Fowler

Another desert park that stands out for similar reasons as our last; Zion also showcases a wealth of vibrant green throughout the valley during the autumn months. This park is another with improved temperatures this time of year, moving away from the 90s and 100s common in summer down to the more comfortable 70s and 80s. Expect more red and orange within the valley as well, in areas like the Emerald Pool trails.

Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado

Fall colors in Rocky Mountain National Park

Photo via Yuya Sekiguchi

The large stretches of halycon aspens patched across this park make it an excellent place to take in fall colors. This, in conjunction with the cutting rivers and rising mountains, makes it a wonderful end of the year destination. A big bonus comes in the form of the herds of elk whose bulls are beginning to bugle this time of year and can be seen in huge numbers. There is no hunting allowed within the park, but the nearby Roosevelt and Arapaho National Forests have some of the best elk hunting in the state.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve – Alaska

Fall colors in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve

Photo via Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Peserve

Most definitely the farthest for the large majority of y’all out there, this park is partly named for the second highest peak in the US and Canada, Mount St. Elias. While visitor centers are open all year (weekdays through winter), this may be a park you want to hit early on in the season. The stunning glacier covered mountain views are spectacular, but the weather is cooling quick with many days barely making it over 50 degrees. Wrangell-St. Elias has got a wealth of beauty to offer for fall colors and its remote location for most of us means you may find a little seclusion.

Acadia National Park – Maine

Fall colors in Acadia National Park

Photo via Dana Moos

Often praised as one of the most beautiful locations in the country, Acadia is especially radiant in fall. If you’re looking for a place with a patchwork of fall colors, featuring every hue from ardent greens to sanguine reds, then this is the spot for you. Enjoy said colors within pine forests, atop mountains, or along the ocean shore.

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National Parks to Visit for Fall Colors [PICS]