There’s no wonder why Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one our most popular national parks for hiking. The rolling mountains along the North Carolina – Tennessee border are gorgeous in all seasons, but the transition to bright fall colors is a sight to behold. In golden sunset light, the beauty of this place is overwhelming. Photo by Jerome Ginsberg (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The rolling plains and scattered wetlands of Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge in Montana were created by receding glaciers more than 12,000 years ago. Today, these lands and waters serve as habitat for a great variety of wildlife, especially migrating waterfowl. Depending on the season, the sky can hold a lone eagle, fill with waves of tundra swans or show dramatic sunset colors. Photo by Christal Steele (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).
Famous for mountaintop sunrises, Haleakala National Park in Hawaii offers thrilling adventures from summit to sea. Visitors to the Kīpahulu District on the northeast coast of of Maui are treated to views of waterfalls, sweeping ocean vistas and powerful Hawaiian cultural experiences. You might even see a double rainbow. Photo courtesy of Chris Archer.
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.
Take a look at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah. The monument is best known for its geologic amphitheater – a brilliantly colored limestone coliseum that plunges a half-mile deep. In addition to enjoying incredible views, visitors can wander among timeless bristlecone pines, stand in lush meadows of wildflower, ponder crystal-clear night skies and experience the gorgeous fall colors of the park’s subalpine forest. Photo courtesy of Gary Fua.
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).