Buffalo National River in Arkansas flows pure and clear over a 132-mile meandering course through grassy meadows and by rocky bluffs. Its ancient current gives life to well over 300 species of fish, insects, freshwater mussels and aquatic plants. In addition to the thriving aquatic life, on land there are many more natural wonders to behold: caves with hidden formations, untrodden passageways, tall waterfalls and old pioneer farmsteads that provide food for elk, whitetail deer, wild turkey, bobwhite quail and many other species of wildlife. Settle on a rock by the river and you’ll see for yourself. Photo by John Bingaman (www.sharetheexperience.org).
In a land of stark white sand, a little fall color really stands out. White Sands National Monument in New Mexico preserves part the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. Gypsum sand is considered rare because gypsum is water soluble – it dissolves in water like sugar in iced tea. The 275-square miles of dunes are comprised of over 4.5 billion tons of gypsum sand. It is one of the many things that make White Sands a unique and special place. Photo by Jim Langford (www.sharetheexperience.org).
A scenic drive along the Molalla River in Oregon offers easy river access and opportunities for picnicking, swimming, camping, whitewater boating and fishing. The river is one of the few undammed tributaries of the Willamette River and cuts a picturesque gorge on its way to the valley floor. Molalla River Recreation Area offers an extensive network of more than 20 miles of trails for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. Take your time on the trails to enjoy the changing colors. Photo by Greg Shine, Bureau of Land Management.
Minute Man National Historical Park in Massachusetts is known for Revolutionary history and bold fall colors. Under the rustling leaves, you can hear whispers of the past at the Captain William Smith House. Captain Smith led a small militia against British soldiers at the Battle of Concord, fighting in the fields near his house. The house and fields have been restored to their 1775 appearance, making a visit feel like traveling back in time. Photo by Joseph Sirkovich (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Forested hills slope down to the banks of the mighty Mississippi River at Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. The yellow leaves of maple trees are catching the sunlight, providing a lovely and soothing atmosphere for hikers, anglers, kayakers and photographers. Other autumn visitors include thousands of migrating birds pausing at the refuge as they make their way south. Photo by Jessica Bolser, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Fall colors frame a stunning view at New River Gorge National River in West Virginia. From over 1,000 feet above the river, you can look down on the clouds nestled in the valley below and enjoy sweeping views of mountains and forests. The park encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, which is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers spectacular scenic and recreational opportunities. Photo by National Park Service.
From mountaintops to underground caves, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park encourages discovery. Located at the junction of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, Cumberland Gap was the first gateway to the West and helps tell the stories of Native Americans, pioneers, Civil War soldiers and mountain communities. With historic buildings scattered among the forested mountains, it’s easy to feel like you’re going back in time. Visit in the autumn for spectacular fall colors. Photo by National Park Service.
Autumn is in full swing at California’s Eastern Sierra near the famous ghost town of Bodie Hills. Although these rounded sage-covered peaks are less dramatic than their adjoining Sierra Nevada neighbors, they climb above 10,000 feet and offer great opportunities for prepared travelers to explore away from the crowds. A loop route leading from the Bodie ghost town back to Bridgeport via Bodie-Masonic and Aurora Canyon Roads offers glimpses of hidden windswept aspen groves and views of the rugged Sierra Nevada crest – even better vistas can be had with some hiking. Both mule deer and pronghorn antelope can be seen along the route. Hunting, wildlife viewing and exploring the backcountry roads are popular pastimes in this area. High clearance vehicles are recommended for these remote unpaved roads, and be sure to check local weather conditions before venturing out. Photos by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands.
Colorado’s Curecanti National Recreation Area is never been more magical than in autumn. On the Neversink trail, cottonwoods, willows and grasses turn shades of gold – providing a stark contrast between the blue skies and the Gunnison River. No matter the time of year, Neversink is a popular area for fishing, hiking and even picnicking. Photos by L. Stoorza, National Park Service.
In the mid-1800s, artists and painters of the Hudson River School flocked to Mount Desert Island in Maine to capture its natural beauty with their brushstrokes – inspiring patrons and friends to explore the area. As more people came to savor the fresh salt air, beautiful scenery and relaxed pace, the fame and popularity of this gorgeous coastline grew. After years of preservation efforts, this lovely landscape became Acadia National Park in 1929. Photo by Ritesh Tandon (www.sharetheexperience.org).