Hey, Texas! Get out to Guadalupe Mountains National Park before you miss the fall colors. McKittrick Canyon is one of the best places in the state to enjoy autumn’s brilliance as the leaves shift from green to spectacular shades of yellow and orange. Under a gorgeous blue sky, breathing in the fresh air, you’ll never want your walk in the woods to end. Photo by M. Haynie, National Park Service.
Though they are made of ancient rock, the Tetons are one of the youngest mountain ranges in North America. They have been uplifting for less than 10 million years, making them “adolescent” mountains, as compared to the “middle-aged” Rockies (60-80 million years old) or the “elderly” Appalachians (more than 300 million years old). Erosion has had much less time to work in the Teton range, comparatively, so their peaks remain rough and rugged – a major factor in the iconic appeal of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Photo @GrandTetonNPS by John Tobiason, National Park Service.
You’ll need to make more than one visit if you really want to enjoy fall colors at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. Different trees peak at different times, so each journey into this gorgeous forest offers a unique experience. Throughout October and November, maples, oaks, gums and dogwoods put on a splendid show you don’t want to miss. Photo at Blue Hen Falls by Craig Walton (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Rays of sunlight create a mesmerizing glow that illuminates Yosemite National Park in California. Spectacular autumn colors decorate the trees, enhanced by the morning’s soft light. As we shift from busier seasons into quieter ones for most of the national parks, take a minute to reflect. Winter is coming, and it’s sure to be its very own incredible adventure. Seasons may shift, but the resonating beauty offered at Yosemite continues to ignite the imagination and hearts of many. Photo by Menchor Cuizon (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Made up of flourishing forests and thriving wetlands, Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge is a dazzling sanctuary found in both New Hampshire and Maine. Because the majority of the refuge includes lands surrounding Lake Umbagog and the Magalloway River, the best access to the refuge is by boat or kayak. Boating or paddling will allow you to explore or paddle through the marshes and waterways. Enjoy great fishing and beauty with the opportunity to see bear, moose, deer, eagles, loons and so much more. Photo by Ian Shive, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
October is a busy time at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Campgrounds fill up and Skyline Drive sees an increase in traffic. Everyone wants to marvel at the fall beauty of the mountains and forests. The park is over 100 miles long and spans a wide elevation range. Fall color conditions can vary dramatically from area to area. Weather affects the color from day to day and even hour to hour. If this feels frantic to you, don’t worry. Shenandoah has many trails and overlooks where you can settle down and find a peaceful moment, looking up at the streaming sunlight and the fluttering autumn leaves. Photo by N. Lewis, National Park Service.
Mount Rainier National Park in Washington is a place to let your spirit and feet run wild. From the hub of Rainier’s snow-capped peak, miles of trails spread out across the backcountry, offering endless adventures and stunning views. Like walking through rooms in nature’s mansion, you can stroll through an alpine meadow past a shimmering blue lake before hiking over a mountain pass into a deep evergreen forest. Every turn is a surprise and every moment is a treasure. Photo courtesy of Albert Yang.
In the fall, the leaf display in the northern woods of Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Maine is simply breathtaking. The forest is made up of maple, aspen, birch, spruce and fir trees. The refuge is named for Moosehorn stream, a waterway within its boundaries. Black bears are often spotted foraging under apple trees in the fall. White-tailed deer and moose feed in the clearings. Coyotes, snowshoe hares, beaver and river otters may be seen when you explore some of the 50 miles of available trails. Photo by Keith Ramos, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
As you enter Zion National Park in Utah, you immediately know you’re in a special place. The red rock walls stretching towards the sky, the Virgin River flowing by you and miles of trails to guide you towards nature’s great wonders. There is so much to see and do. While many visitors gather around iconic sights like Angels Landing, the Narrows and the Watchmen – seen here – there are many other stunning locations in the north and east sides of the park that are not as busy. No matter how eager you are to see everything, from time to time, you must stop and just enjoy a moment of peace in this gorgeous park. Photo by Matt Meisenheimer (www.sharetheexperience.org).
A hub of activity at Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, the Exit Glacier area offers visitors a chance to witness up close the power and beauty of a massive river of ice. The nearby Exit Glacier Nature Center continues your education and the trailhead for the Harding Icefield Trail is your gateway to an incredible experience on a frozen landscape. Summer and fall are the best times to visit, as colorful streaks of wildflowers and changing leaves perk up your photos and memories. Photo by National Park Service.