October is, objectively, one of the best months all around for traveling. Outside of Alaska (though it’s still nice), all 49 states are great to visit and offer exceptional opportunities to explore, hike, travel, and see new areas.
Below, we dive into 11 of the best National Parks to visit in October. I should note this isn’t an exhaustive list. But some of my favorites for October!
North Cascades National Park
In North Cascades National Park, autumn paints the alpine meadows and forests with a vibrant gold, orange, and red palette. The jagged peaks and crystal-clear lakes create a breathtaking backdrop for hiking, camping, and fishing.
Best Place to Go: If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck hike, Cascade Pass and Sahale Glacier is your place. It’s tough, but the views are so incredibly worth it!
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a symphony of nature in October, with towering granite cliffs, giant sequoia trees, and cascading waterfalls. The crowds have thinned out, making it the perfect time to explore the park’s many wonders at your own pace.
Best Place to Go: The waterfalls will be running low by now, but there’s still a lot to do. If Glacier Point road is open, take a drive up there to see the valley from below. Also, hiking to Eagle Peak is a jaw-dropping hike with amazing views.
Grand Canyon National Park
At Grand Canyon National Park, the mild October weather invites you to hike into the canyon’s depths or take a mule ride to the bottom. As the sun sets, the canyon walls glow with fiery hues, creating a spectacle that will stay with you forever.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is a feast for the senses in October, with its golden aspen forests, cascading waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks. The elk are also in full rut, making it a great time to witness their bugling calls and majestic battles.
Best Place to Go: If the road to the high country is still open, do that to see fall colors. If not, the ever-popular Bear Lake and surrounding areas are a must-see. Lastly, Chasm Lake is dang good too!
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is a jewel of the Northeast in October, with its vibrant fall foliage, rugged coastline, and charming villages. Hike Cadillac Mountain for sunrise views of the Atlantic Ocean, or take a scenic drive along the Park Loop Road.
Best Place to Go: Check out the Beehive Loop Trail
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is a hiker’s paradise in October, with its endless trails that wind through forests ablaze with color. Drive along the Skyline Drive for breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or camp under the stars and listen to the haunting calls of the whippoorwills.
Best Place to Go: I loved the White Oak Canyon hike, as it had tons of fall colors and some impressive waterfalls!
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is a photographer’s dream in October, with its towering peaks, pristine lakes, and vibrant fall foliage. Capture the iconic image of the Tetons reflected in Jenny Lake, or hike to Inspiration Point for panoramic views of the park.
Best Place to Go: You’ve got to go to Delta Lake and see sunrise. The way it hits the spires is majestic!
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is a humbling experience in October, with its giant sequoia trees that have stood for centuries. Hike to the General Sherman Tree, the largest living tree on Earth, or marvel at the Tunnel Log, a fallen sequoia that you can drive through.
Best Place to Go: The Congress Trail is the best hike you’ll do in Sequoia National Park. It gives you excellent access to the trees, and not many people go past the General Sherman Tree
Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park is a secluded oasis off the coast of Southern California. In October, the weather is mild and sunny, making it the perfect time to go whale watching, kayaking, camping, and hiking.
Discover the islands’ unique history and culture, or simply relax on the beach and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Best Place to Go: Ditch the crowds and hike to Potato Harbor. You’ll have epic views and few other people to contend with.
White Sands National Park
White Sands National Park is a surreal landscape in October, with its glittering gypsum dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see. Sled down the dunes, hike to the top of Dune Life Trail for stunning views, or camp under the stars and gaze up at the Milky Way.
Best Place to Go: Check out the Alkali Flat Trail to see endless sand dunes!
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park is a breathtaking sight in October, with its deep blue lake and towering caldera walls. Hike around the rim of the crater for stunning views, or take a boat tour of the lake to see Wizard Island up close.
Best Place to Go: Lace up the boots and head up to Garfield Peak for epic views and a nice workout!