Julie National Park, United States 2 Comments

In October, fall colors sweep across much of the United States. The majority of the parks that you will see on this list are parks that are ablaze in fall colors. Some of these are obvious picks, such as Acadia and Shenandoah, but a few may surprise you. In this guide, we list 13 beautiful national parks to visit in October and one road trip to link several of these together.

About this National Park Series

This article is part of a series about the best national parks to visit each month. In this series, every national park is listed at least once and many are listed multiple times. It is a series of 12 articles, one for each month of the year. More popular parks, like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, may show up in as many as four of these articles, but lesser known parks like Gates of the Arctic may only show up once.

These articles take into account weather, crowd levels, the best time to go hiking, special events, road closures, and our personal experiences in the parks. Based on these factors, we picked out what we think are the optimal times to visit each park.

For an overview of the best time to visit each national park, check out our Best National Parks by Season guide. This guide has graphs that list each park and the optimal time to plan your visit. And at the end of this article, we have links to the other articles in our Best National Parks by Month series.

 

Visiting the National Parks in October

From mid-September through November, the leaves change from green to vivid hues of yellow, orange, and red across much of the United States. To see these brilliant fall colors, October is the best month of the year to plan your national parks road trip.

On this list are parks that show off some sort of fall colors, and some are more spectacular than others. Acadia National Park is gorgeous this time of year and one of the top national parks to visit to see fall colors. But there are also parks like Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt that put on a show, which are places that you might not associate with fall colors.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information we provide for each national park does not include temporary road closures, since these dates are constantly changing. Roads can close in the national parks at any time, so I recommend getting updates on the National Park Service website while planning your trip. 

Best National Parks in October

1. Acadia National Park

When it comes to fall colors, it doesn’t get any better than Acadia National Park (Acadia is the cover photo for this article).

From early to mid-October, fall colors are at their peak. Maples, oaks, and beeches change to brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and green.

You can see these trees from scenic drives in the park, but one of the best places to witness these fall colors is from the hiking trails. Immerse yourself in the forests or hike to the taller peaks for a bird’s eye view over Acadia.

Just be aware that these fall colors attract a lot of visitors, making October one of the busiest months of the year to visit Acadia National Park.

Why Visit Acadia in October: For fall colors, this is one of the best US national parks to visit. Also, if you plan to watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, sunrise is at 6:45 am, which is relatively late, so you don’t have to roll out bed super early in the morning (in June, the sun rises before 5 am).
 
Weather: The average high is 60°F (15°C) and the average low is 43°F (6°C). With almost 6 inches of rain, October is one of the wettest months of the year.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 6:45 am and sunset is at 5:50 pm.

Jordan Pond Trail Acadia

Jordan Pond Trail | Best National Parks in October

 

Overlooking Echo Lake

Overlooking Echo Lake | Best National Parks in October

 

Beehive Trail

Beehive Trail | Best National Parks in October

Location: Maine

Top Experiences: The best experiences in Acadia include Drive Park Loop Road, watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, go hiking, visit Sand Beach and Echo Lake, bike the carriage roads, and watch the sunset at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.

Ultimate Adventure:Hike the Precipice Trail, a short, tough hike that features numerous climbs up metal rungs and ladders and short walks along narrow ledges.

How Many Days Do You Need? We recommend spending two to three days in Acadia National Park. This will give you enough time to drive Park Loop Road, do a few short hikes, bike the carriage roads, watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, and snack on popovers at Jordan Pond House.

2. Rocky Mountain National Park

In October, the weather turns cooler and the first snow can begin to fall in Rocky Mountain National Park. In early October, fall colors can still be seen in the park, when the aspens are a vibrant yellow color. October is also the end of the elk mating season.

One of the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park is to drive Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest paved through road in the US national parks. This road closes at the end of October and won’t reopen until Memorial Day, seven months later. So, plan your visit in early to mid-October to drive this spectacular road.

Why Visit Rocky Mountain in October: For fall colors, to see the elk mating season, and visit the park with lower crowds than the summer months.
 
Weather: In October, the average high is 57°F (14°C) and the average low is 30°F (-1°C). Precipitation is low and this could fall as snow.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 7:10 am and sunset is at 6:20 pm.

Sky Pond

Sky Pond | Best National Parks in October

 

Bear Lake

Bear Lake | Best National Parks in October

Location: Colorado

Top Experiences: Drive Trail Ridge Road, hike to Emerald and Dream Lakes, drive Old Fall River Road, hike to Sky Pond or Chasm Lake, take a stroll around Bear Lake, and take your pick from more of the great hikes to do in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ultimate Adventure: For the ultimate adventure, hike to the top of Longs Peak, the only fourteener in the park. This is a tough fourteener and many people who attempt it never make it to the summit, turning around early because of storms or the difficult conditions.

How Many Days Do You Need? Ideally, plan on spending at least three days in Rocky Mountain National Park. This gives you enough time to drive Alpine Ridge Road, Old Fall River Road, and hike a few of the trails.

3. Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park preserves a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

Skyline Drive is the main thoroughfare through the park, a road that twists and turns for 105 miles from north to south. For those who want to explore the park beyond Skyline Drive, 500 miles of hiking trails travel through the park.

Like Acadia National Park, Shenandoah is a beautiful park to visit in October. From the viewpoints along Skyline Drive, you can gaze across the mountains and the kaleidoscope of fall colors.

Why Visit Shenandoah in October: The last two weeks of October are the best time to visit the park to see fall colors. Plus, the weather is perfect for hiking.
 
Weather: The average high is 60°F (15°C) and the average low is 40°F (4°C). On warmer than average days, it can get up into the high 70’s. Rainfall averages about 5 inches per month through the year and October is no different.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 7:20 am and sunset is at 6:30 pm.

Shenandoah NP

Shenandoah National Park | Best National Parks in October

 

Marys Rock Hike

Mary’s Rock | Best National Parks in October

 

Marys Rock Trail

Trail to Mary’s Rock

Location: Virginia

Top Experiences: Drive Skyline Drive and visit the overlooks, hike to the top of Bearfence Mountain, visit Dark Hollow Falls, enjoy the view from Hawksbill Mountain, hike to Mary’s Rock, and hike a section of the Appalachian Trail.

Ultimate Adventure: For the ultimate adventure, hike Old Rag. This tough hike is just under 10 miles long and you’ll do some rock scrambling along the way, but from the top of Old Rag, you get one of the best views of the park.

How Many Days Do You Need? You can drive the length of Skyline Drive in one day, visiting the overlooks and hiking a trail or two. For a more leisurely experience, or to do several more hikes, plan on spending two or more days in Shenandoah.

4. Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a picturesque wilderness of grasslands and badlands. Bison, feral horses, and elk roam the landscapes, hiking trails meander through the colorful bentonite hills, and scenic roads take visitors to numerous stunning overlooks.

This national park is made up of three separate units: the South Unit, the North Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit. Of the three, the South Unit is the more popular, but our favorite is the North Unit. In the North Unit, the views of the badlands are beautiful, there are several short, fun trails to hike, and there is a very good chance you will spot bison and other wildlife right from your car.

Theodore Roosevelt is a relatively quiet park to visit all year. We visited in early October and had an awesome experience. The weather was still warm, crowds were very low, and the hint of fall colors was a nice bonus.

Why Visit Theodore Roosevelt in October: The weather is getting cooler but this is a beautiful time to visit the park. The trees turn a nice shade of yellow, adding a splash of fall color to the park.
 
Weather: The average high is 58°F (14°C) and the average low is 30°F (-1°C). On hotter than average days, the temperature can get up into the 80’s. We spent 3 days in Theodore Roosevelt in early October and temperatures were in the low 80’s during the day. Rainfall is low.
 
Sunrise & Sunset (South Unit): Sunrise is at 7:15 am and sunset is at 6 pm. The South Unit is in the Mountain Time Zone and the North Unit is in the Central Time Zone.

Theodore Roosevelt NP

Sperati Point | Best National Parks in October

 

Maltese Cross Cabin

Maltese Cross Cabin | Best National Parks in October

 

Bison in Theodore Roosevelt

Bison in Theodore Roosevelt | Best National Parks in October

Location: North Dakota

Top Experiences: Hike the Caprock Coulee Trail, enjoy the view from Sperati Point and the Wind Canyon Trail, drive the Scenic Drive in both units, visit the Petrified Forest, hike the Ekblom and Big Plateau Loop, and visit River Bend Overlook.

How Many Days Do You Need? If you want to explore both the North and South Units, you will need at least two days in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (one day for each unit).

5. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is home to one of the most iconic landscapes in the United States. Rising from Yosemite Valley are El Capitan and Half Dome. Waterfalls tumble over the granite cliffs, hiking trails weave their way from the valley floor to top of the highest peaks, and massive sequoia trees form a quiet sanctuary within the park.

In October, the weather is great for hiking, the park roads are open, you don’t need a permit to enter the park, and as a bonus, you can even see some fall colors in October. The trees change from green to yellow, creating a beautiful scene in Yosemite Valley.

Why Visit Yosemite in October: The park roads are open, the weather is great for hiking, crowds are low, and no permit is needed to enter the park.
 
Weather: The average high is 73°F (23°C) and the average low is 46°F (8°C). Rainfall is low.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 6:15 am and sunset is at 7:50 pm.

Hikes in Yosemite National Park

On the John Muir Trail | Best National Parks in October

 

USA Road Trip with Yosemite

Glacier Point | Best National Parks in October

Location: California

Top Experiences: See Bridalveil Falls, hike the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls, visit Tuolomne Meadows, enjoy the view from Glacier Point and Tunnel View, hike the Yosemite Falls Trail, visit Taft Point, and visit Mariposa Grove.

How Many Days Do You Need? Plan on spending two to three days in Yosemite National Park. This gives you enough time to hike a few trails, visit Glacier Point, drive Tioga Road, and explore Yosemite Valley.

6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located in northeast Ohio. It sits right in between Cleveland and Akron, forming an oasis of forests, wetlands, and outdoor recreational areas.

Things to do here include biking the Ohio and Erie Towpath, riding the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, hiking, visiting the historical sites, and even visiting a Farmer’s Market.

Since this park is surrounded by small towns, it has a much different feel to it than parks like Canyonlands or the Grand Canyon. But that’s part of its appeal. With an abundance of nearby hotels and restaurants, a visit here is easy to plan.

Why Visit Cuyahoga Valley in October: For fall colors. Peak fall colors typically occur the third week of October.
 
Weather: The average high is 63°F (17°C) and the average low is 45°F (7°C). On unusually warm days, the temperature can get up into the 80’s. October is one of the driest months of the year, with 3 inches of rainfall.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 7:40 am and sunset is at 6:45 pm.

Blue Hen Falls

Blue Hen Falls | Best National Parks in October

 

Things to do Cuyahoga Valley

The Ledges Trail | Best National Parks in October

Location: Ohio

Top Experiences: Photograph Brandywine Falls, visit Beaver Marsh, go for a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, visit Bridal Veil Falls, visit Deer Lick Cave, hike to Blue Hen Falls, visit the Everett Covered Bridge, and hike the Ledges Trail.

Ultimate Adventure: For the ultimate adventure, hike, bike and/or run the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail. This is an 87-mile graded gravel path that runs alongside the Cuyahoga River.

How Many Days Do You Need? One day is all you need to see the highlights of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This gives you enough time to hike a few short trails, photograph the waterfalls, and visit the Everett Covered Bridge and Beaver Marsh. If you get your timing right, you can have dinner on the train or take a Murder Mystery or Ales on Rails train ride.

7. Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located in Texas. Canyons, gypsum sand dunes, fossilized coral reefs, and some of the highest peaks in Texas are all things that you can see in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

If you like hiking, you’ll love this park. Almost everything in the park requires some sort of short walk or hike…there is very little that you can see from your car. And you have a wide variety of hikes to choose from. Hike to Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, hike to a slot canyon, and explore the quieter trails in the remote areas of the park.

Starting in mid-October, the leaves on the big tooth maples, oaks, and ash trees turn from green to various hues of orange, yellow and red. These colors are best seen in McKittrick Canyon and Dog Canyon.

Why Visit Guadalupe Mountains in October: For fall colors and great hiking weather. The first fall colors appear in mid-October, peaking by the end of October, and sometimes lasting into early November.
 
Weather: The average high is 72°F (22°C) and the average low is 50°F (10°C). October is the end of the “rainy season,” getting just over 1 inch of rainfall.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 8 am and sunset is at 7:30 pm.

El Capitan Lookout

El Capitan | Best National Parks in October

 

McKittrick Canyon Trailhead

McKittrick Canyon Trailhead | Best National Parks in October

Location: Texas

Top Experiences: Hike to the top of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. Visit the Salt Basin Dunes, hike to Devil’s Hall, visit El Capitan Lookout, hike the McKittrick Canyon Trail or the Permian Reef Trail, and visit Dog Canyon.

Ultimate Adventure: For the ultimate adventure, go on a multi-day backpacking trip through the park.

How Much Time Do You Need? One day is all you need to hike one trail and visit the highlights of the park. For those who love hiking and for those who like the idea of venturing off the beaten path, a total of 3 days gives you plenty of time to hike a few trails, visit Dog Canyon, and explore the Salt Basin Dunes.

8. Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park gets its name for its large, underground cavern and maze of passageways.

What many people may not be aware of is that above ground, this park is home to one of the largest prairies in the USA, and with that comes amazing wildlife viewing opportunities.

Visiting the cave is nice, but our favorite thing to do at Wind Cave National Park is to hike the surface trails. Bison roam the park and you have a very good chance of seeing herds of bison on or near these trails. In October, hiking the Lookout Point and Centennial Trail Loop is a great hike to do, with the chance to see bison, prairie dogs, and even some fall colors.

Why Visit Wind Cave in October: For low crowds, great hiking weather, and some fall colors. Poison ivy is prevalent on the hiking trails during the summer months but October it’s no longer an issue.
 
Weather:The average high is 61°F (16°C) and the average low is 34°F (1°C). Rainfall is low.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 7 am and sunset is at 6:10 pm.

Bison in Wind Cave

Bison at Wind Cave National Park | Best National Parks in October

 

Best Hikes in Wind Cave

Hiking the Lookout Point & Centennial Trail Loop

Location: South Dakota

Top Experiences: Take a cave tour, spot bison from the park roads, hike the Rankin Ridge Trail, and hike the Lookout Point and Centennial Trail Loop.

How Many Days Do You Need? With one full day, you can tour the cave in the morning and hike a surface trail in the afternoon.

9. New River Gorge National Park

Despite its name, the New River is one of the oldest rivers on the continent, if not the world. There is some debate among geologists about the age of this river, with estimates ranging between 3 to 360 million years.

During this time, the river carved out a 73,000 acre gorge in West Virginia. The sandstone cliffs and whitewater rapids create world-class rock climbing and whitewater rafting destinations. Hiking and mountain biking trails wind through the forests, leading to overlooks and historic settlements.

There are two big reasons why New River Gorge is one of the best national parks to visit in October: for Bridge Day and, you guessed it, fall colors.

On the third Saturday in October, the New River Gorge Bridge closes to traffic and opens to pedestrians. This is one of the largest extreme sporting events in the world. On Bridge Day, BASE jumpers leap from the bridge (in 2019, there were over 300 BASE jumpers) and rappellers ascend and descend from the catwalk. There is also a zipline that runs from the bridge to Fayette Station Road (the High Line), that you can sign up for in advance.

Why Visit New River Gorge in October: To participate in Bridge Day and to see fall colors in the park. For peak colors, plan your visit for the last week in October into early November. Our photos below were taken between October 18 and 21, when the leaves were just beginning to change.
 
Weather: The average high is 64°F (18°C) and the average low is 46°F (8°C). October is one of the driest months of the year.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 7:30 am and sunset is at 6:45 pm.

Things to do New River Gorge

New River Gorge National Park | Best National Parks in October

 

Best Hikes New River Gorge | Best National Parks in October

Castle Rock Trail | Best National Parks in October

 

Sandstone Falls New River Gorge | Best National Parks in October

Sandstone Falls | Best National Parks in October

Location: West Virginia

Top Experiences: Do the Bridge Walk, hike the Long Point Trail, drive Fayette Station Road, go mountain biking and rock climbing, enjoy the view from Grandview Overlook, hike the Castle Rock Trail, and visit Sandstone Falls.

Ultimate Adventure: Go white water rafting on the New River (rafting season is April through October).

How Many Days Do You Need? If you want to visit the three main areas of New River Gorge National Park (Canyon Rim, Grandview and Sandstone) and have enough time to go whitewater rafting, you will need three to four days. However, with less time, you can visit the highlights and hike a few of the trails.

10. Zion National Park

Zion National Park is one of the best places in the United States to go hiking. Angels Landing and the Zion Narrows are two bucket-list worthy hikes that attract thousands of visitors every year. But there are also short, family-friendly hikes to choose from, as well as multi-day backpacking adventures and hikes that require canyoneering experience.

Zion is a busy park to visit all year round, but in October, visitation begins to quiet down, at least a little bit. And October, with its warm weather and splash of fall colors, is a gorgeous time to go hiking in Zion.

October is also a great time to visit the rest of Utah’s Mighty 5: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyons National Parks.

Why Visit Zion in October: For low crowds, some fall colors, and pleasant hiking weather. If you have plans to hike the Zion Narrows, this is a good time of year to do it. The water temperature is still relatively warm and the water level is low, prime conditions for doing this hike.
 
Weather: The average high is 78°F (26°C) and the average low is 50°F (9°). On unusually warm days, the temperature can get into the 90’s. Rainfall is low.
 
Sunrise and Sunset: Sunrise is at 7:40 am and sunset is at 6:50 pm.

Virgin River in October | Best National Parks in October

Virgin River in October

 

Zion Narrows | Best National Parks in October

Zion Narrows in October

 

Zion National Park

View from Angels Landing | Best National Parks in October

Location: Utah

Top Experiences: Hike Angels Landing, Observation Point, Hidden Canyon, Riverside Trail, Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, and Canyon Overlook. One of the best experiences in the park is hiking the Zion Narrows.

Ultimate Adventure: There are several to choose from. Hike the Zion Narrows from the top-down as a long day hike or a two-day backpacking trip. The Subway is another strenuous but gorgeous hike, and you will need canyoneering experience for this one. The West Rim Trail is a great two-day backpacking trip or a one day mega-hike.

How Much Time Do You Need? If you like hiking, plan to spend at least 2 to 3 days in Zion National Park. You can do three big hikes (one each morning) or use two of the days for a multi-day backpacking adventure. This also gives you time to explore Kolob Canyons at the northern section of the park.

11. Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is a highly underrated park in the United States.

The colorful buttes, spires, and pinnacles create one of the most photogenic landscapes in the country. Bison and bighorn sheep roam the largest mixed-grass prairie in the United States. The sunrises and sunsets are magical, the hiking trails are short and sweet, and for those looking for more solitude, you can take your pick from a handful of backcountry experiences.

This is not a park that you might expect to see some fall colors, but in October there are a few trees here and there that show off their colors, as they turn yellow and red.

Why Visit Badlands in October: For fantastic weather, low crowds, and the chance to see some fall colors.
 
Weather: The average high is 65°F (19°C) and the average low is 38°F (3°C). On unusually warm days, it can get into the 80’s or even the low 90’s. We visited Badlands in October and had a high temperature of 92°F for one day of our visit. October is the end of the rainy season, with 1.5 inches (40mm) of rain.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 7 am and sunset is at 6 pm.

Badlands NP Photo | Best National Parks in October

Badlands National Park | Best National Parks in October

 

Sunrise Badlands National Park

Sunrise in Badlands National Park

 

Sage Creek Wilderness Badlands | Best National Parks in October

Fall colors in Sage Creek Wilderness

Location: South Dakota

Top Experiences: Drive Badlands Loop Road and visit the overlooks, watch the sunrise and/or the sunset, hike the Notch Trail, hike the Door and Fossil Exhibit Trails, drive Sage Creek Rim Road, visit Roberts Prairie Dog Town, hike the Castle Trail, and count how many bison you can find.

Ultimate Adventure: For the ultimate experience, venture into the backcountry. In Badlands National Park, you are permitted to hike off-trail and the Sage Creek Wilderness and Deer Haven Wilderness are great places to go hiking and spot wildlife.

How Many Days Do You Need? One day in Badlands National Park gives you just enough time to visit the highlights and hike a few short trails. Make sure you catch either sunrise or sunset in the park because these are one of the best times of day to look out across the landscape.

12. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. In 2021, over 14 million people visited this park. Second place wasn’t even close (that would be Zion, with 5 million visitors).

This national park straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. The ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains runs through the center of the park and it is here that you will find some of the tallest peaks in eastern North America.

With over 100 species of trees that cover various elevations in the park, the peak time for fall colors lasts quite a while in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The trees first begin to change color at the higher elevations as early as mid-September. From early to mid-October, the colors slide down the mountains. Peak season comes to an end at the beginning of November, when the trees at the lower, warmer elevations finally change colors.

Why Visit Great Smoky Mountains in October: For great weather for hiking and an array of fall colors.
 
Weather: The average high is 64°F (18°C) and the average low is 41°F (5°C). Rainfall is about 5 inches for October which is one of the driest months of the year.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 7:40 am and sunset is at 7 pm.

Great Smoky Mountains November

Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Best National Parks in October

 

Hiking Great Smoky Mountains

Mount LeConte | Best National Parks in October

Location: Tennessee and North Carolina

Top Experiences: Enjoy the view from Clingman’s Dome and Newfound Gap, hike the Alum Trail to Mount LeConte, drive through Cades Cove, and drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trail.

How Many Days Do You Need? One day is all you need to visit the highlights of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

13. Yellowstone National Park

If you want to visit Yellowstone with low crowds, October is one of the best months to plan your trip.

In early October, the weather is cool but not quite cold, the park becomes a rusty yellow color, and animal sightings are wonderful this time of year. The first snow can begin to fall in early to mid-October, and it’s usually not quite enough to close the roads, but you could see the park with a dusting to a few inches of snow.

October is the last month of the year that the roads are open in Yellowstone. By early November, once the snow really begins to fall, the majority of the park roads close.

Why Visit Yellowstone in October: For fall colors and lower crowds.
 
Weather: In October, the average high is 52°F (11°C) and the average low is 22°F (-6°C). October is one of the driest months of the year.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 7:40 am and sunset is at 6:40 pm.

Bison Lamar Valley | Best National Parks in October

Lamar Valley in October | Best National Parks in October

 

Norris Geyser Basin Porcelain Basin | Best National Parks in October

Porcelain Basin | Best National Parks in October

 

Grizzlies in Yellowstone | Best National Parks in October

Two grizzly bears guarding an elk carcass (the elk is buried on the riverbank and you can see the antlers).

Location: Wyoming and Montana

Top Experiences: Visit Old Faithful, see the Grand Prismatic Spring, spot wildlife in Lamar and Hayden Valleys, visit the North and South Rims of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, hike the short trails in Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Geyser Basin.

Ultimate Adventure: For the ultimate adventure in Yellowstone, venture into the backcountry on a backpacking trip.

How Many Days Do You Need? It’s possible to race through Yellowstone in one day, but for the best experience, plan on spending three or more days here. Yellowstone is massive and it takes at least three days to just get to the highlights of this park.

Bonus! More Parks to Visit

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park, which is located in Arkansas, preserves hot springs and a network of hiking trails. In October, the weather is pleasant, crowds are a bit lower than the summer months, and you can see some fall colors.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave stays a constant 54°F all year, so you can visit this park throughout the year and have a great experience. But in October, this is a very nice time to hike the surface trails.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is an underrated park that is located in Colorado. Driving the rim roads to the overlooks and hiking the short trails are the best things to do here. In October, the roads are still open and the weather is great for exploring this park.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

In October, the high temperature hovers around 60°F, making this a great time to go hiking and sand boarding on the dunes.

October Road Trip Idea

South Dakota Road Trip

With one week, you can go on a road trip in South Dakota, visiting Badlands and Wind Cave National Park. Add on Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, and even Devils Tower for an epic road trip.

Mount Rushmore in October

Mount Rushmore in October


If you have any questions about the best national parks to visit in October, or if you want to share your favorite national parks to visit this month, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about the US National Parks:

NATIONAL PARKS: In our Guide to the US National Parks, get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries.

NATIONAL PARK ITINERARIES:For ideas on how to plan a national parks road trip, visit our National Parks Itinerary page. This has lots of road trip ideas and sample itineraries for many of the US national parks.

BEST US NATIONAL PARKS:Looking for your next big adventure? Read our post Best National Parks in the USA, where we narrow down the long list into 15 must-see parks.

MORE GREAT HIKES IN THE NATIONAL PARKS: From hikes to the tallest peaks to beautiful coast trails, read our Guide to the Best Day Hikes in the US National Parks. If you prefer to keep your hikes short and sweet, read our guide to the Best Short Hikes in the National Parks.

Best National Parks to Visit by Month:

JANUARY: Best National Parks to Visit in January
FEBRUARY: Best National Parks to Visit in February
MARCH:  Best National Parks to Visit in March
APRIL: Best National Parks to Visit in April
MAY: Best National Parks to Visit in May
JUNE: Best National Parks to Visit in June
JULY: Best National Parks to Visit in July
AUGUST: Best National Parks to Visit in August
SEPTEMBER: Best National Parks to Visit in September
NOVEMBER: Best National Parks to Visit in November
DECEMBER: Best National Parks to Visit in December

 

Best US National Parks in October

 

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Comments 2

  1. Avatar for Paulo
    Paulo

    Aren’t Yosemite waterfalls reduced to a trickle if not completelly dryed out between August and November? Does it still make sense to hike to Yosemite, Vernal, Nevada or Horsetail Falls in your opinion?

    PS: maybe it would be usefull for readers if you add a section with the national parks not to visit each month.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Yes, that is a good point. However, the weather is great, crowds are low, you can see some fall colors, and a permit is no longer necessary to visit the park…all big advantages. Cheers, Julie

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