Last updated: 03:48 PM ET, Wed September 14 2016

5 National Parks You Must Experience this Fall

Features & Advice | Patrick Clarke | September 14, 2016

5 National Parks You Must Experience this Fall

PHOTO: Skyline Drive at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia (photo via Flickr/Nicolas Raymond)

With temperatures set to cool and the leaves poised to change color, now is the time to plan your fall trip to one of America's national parks

There are hundreds to choose from across the U.S., but there are a select few that should be at the top of your list.

Here are five national parks you must experience this fall.

Acadia National Park

Photo via Flickr/Paul VanDerWerf.

Where: Maine

The best part about Maine's Acadia National Park is that you won't have to wait long to see the gorgeous fall colors. The foliage here tends to reach its prime in mid October before the temperatures get too cold.

What truly sets this park apart from the rest is that it features much more than woodlands. Visitors here will discover rocky beaches and surprising peaks, none more impressive than Cadillac Mountain, which happens to be the highest point on the East Coast. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Photo via Flickr/Sarath Kuchi. 

Where: Tennessee and North Carolina

It's easy to see why Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S. Boasting more than a dozen mountains stretching higher than 6,000 feet and more than 100 species of trees, the park is an ideal destination for a fall retreat.

Head over to the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower for unbeatable views of the park, hike along the Appalachian Trail or let your stress melt away at Cades Cove (pictured above). 

Yosemite National Park

Photo via Flickr/Frank Schulenburg.

Where: California

This time of year the leaves on the maple, dogwood and oak trees at Yosemite National Park begin to change color, making the picturesque park even more attractive. Plus, the summer crowds are gone and visitors can score nearby overnight accommodations for under $100 per night. 

What's more, the fall weather is ideal for hiking. Just be sure to pack your camera. 

Shenandoah National Park

Photo via Flickr/David Fulmer.

Where: Virginia

The good times are already underway at Virginia's Shenandoah National Park. The 17th annual Apple Butter Celebration takes place at Skyland Resort on Sept. 17. Later this upcoming fall, visitors will have numerous wine, whiskey and cider tasting opportunities. 

Not sure when to visit? Plan a mid-October trip and check out the 26th annual Fall Foliage Bike Festival from Oct. 14-16.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Photo via Flickr/Doug Kerr.

Where: Ohio

Northeastern Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley National Park has only held national park status for 16 years, but this Midwest destination is no longer being overlooked.

A journey through this park during the fall promises to deliver gorgeous sights, including tree-covered hills, plenty of wildlife and stunning Brandywine Falls (pictured above). If it's bright-colored leaves you're after, plan a trip during the last two weeks of October to take in peak foliage.

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