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THE BEST 7 NATIONAL PARKS TO VISIT THIS FALL

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park - North Carolina

Photograph by Brian Cole on Flickr

Remaining as one of the great wild areas of the eastern United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most biographically rich areas on earth. With a landscape that ranges from 6,000 ft mountain peaks to wide open meadows, it’s home to the largest stands of maple trees with vivid displays of yellows, reds, oranges, and even purples this time of year.

2. Lassen Volcanic National Park - California

Photograph by MissMae on Flickr

Located at the southern end of the Cascade Mountain Range, Lassen Volcanic National Park surrounds a plug dome inactive since 1921. The park features a stunning contrast of dense forests and heavy vegetation, including hot springs, boiling geysers and a crystal-blue lake. Best visited in the fall season, it features brushes of golden colors from aspen and sagebrush trees which outline the craters.

3. Acadia National Park - Maine

Photograph by Randy Durrum on Flickr

From pebbled beaches to mountaintops of rose colored granite, Acadia National Park features some of the regions most dramatic scenery, and is currently Maine’s only National Park. Closed to motor vehicles, the park is ideal for hiking and biking and features several old carriage roads, granite bridges, and more than 120 miles of trails. The vivid greens from the white birch and alder trees quickly change into a luminous yellow once autumn arrives, making for a spectacular view from Cadillac Mountain.

4. Guadalupe Mountains National Park - Texas

Photograph by mlhradio on Flickr

An unexpected wonder of the Guadalupe Mountains, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is filled with deeply incised canyons and majestic limestone cliffs. Built around an arid desert landscape, it’s known for its bright white salt basin dunes and rugged desert shrubs. Take any of the various hiking trails down into the canyon and it will reveal a profusion of beautiful wildlife and birds, as well as a burst of fall colors from cedar elm, maple and sycamore trees which rival the deep reds and maroon found in New England.

5. Bryce Canyon National Park - Utah

Photograph by prinzipal on Flickr

With a stunning panorama of otherworldly sandstone cliffs and colorful vistas, Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the world's most breathtaking locations. Unique for its rich cultural history and geologic rock spires, or “hoodoos”, Bryce Canyon features numerous trails and caverns which weave through the desert amphitheater. Surrounded by sprawls of Ponderosa Pines and high elevation meadows, you can drive to any of the several lookout points to watch the landscape transform with vivid colors and playful shadows around sunset.

6. Shenandoah National Park - Virginia

Photograph by Andrew Parlette on Flickr

Lying alongside the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, Shenandoah National Park features some of the regions most pristine wilderness. Just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington D.C., the terrain opens up to rolling foothills, creeks, forests, streams and even waterfalls. Once home to early settlers, much of the old farmland has now turned into vibrant forests which burst into full color during the fall season. Paralleling the Appalachian Trail, the striking landscape is best viewed along the scenic Skyline Drive which runs over 105 miles directly through the park.

7. Denali National Park - Alaska

Photograph by Denali National Park and Preserve on Flickr

With a distinct wilderness and flourishing wildlife population, Denali National Park’s more than 6-million acres are a stunning wonder to behold. Home to the highest mountain peak in North America, Mt. Denali, the terrain encompasses a ecosystem of dense forests, tundra, rivers, and even glaciers. With wide-open backcountry, the parks many deciduous trees turn a bright yellow during the fall months, adding a splash of color across the dark green landscape. Perfect for backpacking and camping, you may even be able to catch a glimpse of the northern lights during this time of year.