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Last year, I shared with you a collection of the best places around the world to see fall colors. I love fall for so many reasons including the weather and the colors. I also adore the natural beauty of the national parks, areas of land put aside by countries for our enjoyment of the wide open spaces.
Travelling outside of summer can bring less crowds and national parks are one of the best places to spend this most sublime of the seasons. So read on and enjoy this collection of the best national parks to visit in fall around the world and start planning your next trip.
The Grampians National Park, Melbourne, Australia
by Danny of What’s Danny Doing?
The Grampians National Park sits a few hours’ drive north-west of Melbourne, Australia. And it’s absolutely incredible- even in autumn!
This part of Australia is relatively flat. Miles of untouched bushland stretch as far as the eye can see, in all directions. There’s the occasional town scattered around, but otherwise, it’s featureless and flat as a pancake in all directions.…Until you get to the Grampians.
The National Park rises up as if from no-where. It’s a striking thing to see from afar! An almighty stretch of raised land and undulating cliffs. It’s even more spectacular to experience close up!
Hiking trails, rock scrambling, climbing, cycling trails…The Grampians are an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Even better, the weather is generally cold enough to keep the snakes hidden away. All you have for company are the cockatoos, wallabies, kangaroos and emus in the area!
All good trips to the Grampians start and finish at Halls Gap- the little town that’s nestled in amongst it. The atmosphere is very laid back here, with a load of cool cafes, bars and restaurants to enjoy after day in the outdoors.
The Pinnacles are the most famous parts of the national park- an epic hike up to a peak with even better views. Then be sure to get up to the Balconies for sunset (be sure to remember your backpacking camera!). There are few better places to watch the sun go down!
If you’re in or around Melbourne in Autumn (or any time of year, for that matter) and have some
spare time, then be sure to head on up to the Grampians for a day or two. You won’t regret it.
Rila National Park in Bulgaria
by Roshni of The Wanderlust Within
Hikers, skiers, spa goddesses and culture vultures can all appreciate one of Europe’s most overlooked mountain ranges. Rila’s landscape is characterised by sunken valleys, alpine meadows, granite peaks and nearly 200 glacial lakes. Only 70km from Sofia, the Rila mountains extend over 2400 square kms and are home to some of the Balkan’s highest peaks, including Mount Vihren (2914m) and Mount Musala (2,925m). Many of the mountains are connected by hiking trails and seasonal mountain huts (summer/autumn only). These make the logistics of conquering the Rila summits much simpler, but the steep ascents still require a good level of fitness.
Autumn is the best time for trekking in order to escape the sub-zero temperatures, which freeze the mountains for much of the year. In September, the highest peaks rarely exceed 10 degrees celsius. Luckily for hikers (and non-hikers), the numerous natural hot springs found throughout the region are perfect for relaxing and resting wary legs. The region also caters for history buffs as the iconic Rila Monastery is nestled deep in Rila’s alpine forests. This 10th century Orthodox Church is famous for its colourful architecture and beautiful fortress like exterior.
by Taylor of TavernaTravels
Banff National Park is one of the best parks to visit in Autumn. Located in Alberta, Canada, just a few hours outside of Calgary, Banff is truly one of the most beautiful parks in the world. While the park is beautiful in any season, during the summer months you’ll find an influx of tourists. Visiting in September will allow you to take advantage of the remaining warm days, without quite so many tourists. The temperatures do fluctuate though, so don’t be surprised if you’re in a sweater one day and a snowstorm the next.
Another plus to visiting Banff National Park in Autumn is the slightly cheaper accommodation options. For the most affordable rooms you can check out the town of Canmore, located just a few miles outside of the park. Camping is another popular option, but beware that the temperatures do drop at night.
You’ll want to rent a car if you’re visiting Banff National Park, especially if you’re visiting during one of the shoulder months when buses run less frequently. Having a car will allow you to see a lot more each day.
A few must visit spots in the park include: Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, and Peyto Lake. All three of these lakes offer picture perfect views and a number of hikes. Check out Taylor of TavernaTravels’ Three Days in Banff guide.
Jasper National Park, Canada
Jasper National Park is so good, we have more to say about it!
by Carol of WanderingCarol.com
While autumn is a time to see bright golden colors in most national parks, in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies you go to see white – the ice blue white of the Athabasca Glacier. The most visited glacier in North America, the Athabasca Glacier is located on the Icefields Parkway, a magnificent stretch of highway that runs from Jasper down to Lake Louise near Banff in Canada. One of the main attractions in Jasper National Park, the glacier is an ideal way to experience the majesty of the Rockies, and visitors can get up close with a tour on an Ice Explorer, a specially designed vehicle equipped to travel over the glacier. For a mesmerizing overview of the snowcapped mountains, you can also visit the glass-bottomed Skywalk that curves out over the cliff edge.
A good way to get the local flavor of the national park is in the town of Jasper itself, a mountain community that has managed to retain its authentic flair despite being situated in one of the most scenic spots in the world, and where it’s not unheard of to see elk grazing by the side of the road or a bear ambling down an alley. Near town you can enjoy the glowering beauty of Mount Edith Cavell, visit Pyramid and Patricia Lakes, or take the Jasper Skytram up to a height of 2,263 meters for a view of startling blue lakes, snow-capped peaks and and the visual play of green pines and spruce against the changing yellow leaves of birch and poplars.
Pacific Rim National Park, Canada
by Christina of Travel2Next
You may not think of Canada as a place to go to the beach but once you’ve visited Pacific Rim National Park, you’ll be sure to change your mind. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a magnet for those who love beaches and a pristine location for a back-to-nature vacation.
Located on Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast, a three-hour drive from Nanaimo, you can get to this national park by ferry or flight. It’s hard to imagine that the beautiful windswept beaches are only a one-hour flight from Vancouver. This national park has three areas: Long Beach, Broken Group Islands and West Coast Trail.
Autumn is a great time to go surfing in Pacific Rim National Park as the days are long and the sun is often shining. Pacific Rim National Park is a fantastic place to go camping on Vancouver Island. Top spots for a camping vacation at Pacific Rim are Long Beach, Ucluelet and Tofino.
Autumn is also festival time, when the communities around the park celebrate various events. Make sure to book one of the many nature tours to see bears, orcas, sea lions and seals. A bucket list experience is to go bear watching. The season starts in May and runs through to Autumn (October). Whale watching season goes through to November.
If you love surfing, hiking and kayaking, this is the national park for you. Adventure travellers will love the West Coast Trail or the Wild Pacific Trail, which starts in Ucluelet and heads around the cliffs, but there are plenty of short trails and day hikes too.
Yangshuo National Park, China
Yangshuo National Park is located in the northeast part of China’s Guangxi province, in the district of Guilin. This part of China is known for its stunning karst mountains. There is a reason that this region of Guilin is on China’s 20 dollar bill. Once you come you realize that there are very few places like this in the world.
There are two rivers that run through Yangshuo National Park. Both the Li River or Li Jiang River and the smaller Yulong River cut through the Yangshuo countryside and give the area such a magnetic appeal.
Tourists can take river cruises down both rivers. The rapids are relatively small and appear to be artificially made. However, they do add a bit of fun as you are cruisin’ down the rivers.
Moreover, drifting down the rivers allows you to get the best view of the countryside. Both rivers spectacular views. While on a river raft you will often sail by other small villages where you can stop and take photos or get a bite to eat.
Plitivice National Park, Croatia
by Nicole of The Passport Kids
Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is one of those places in the world that amazes you when you see it and walk through the beauty of nature. The park is made up of 16 lakes, cascading into one another with streams of waterfalls everywhere you look. There are hiking trails alongside the lakes through the Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes with pathways to let you cross over some lakes for the best views of the waterfalls. Throughout the park, there are waterfalls moving and streams trickling with the constant flow of water through this national park.
Autumn is a great time to explore this national park as the colours of the leaves change and provide a more extravagant backdrop to these perfect waterfalls and crystal clear lakes. The autumn also provides the opportunity to have a more tranquil and peaceful visit to the national park with less tourist at the park. Walking and hikes can be anywhere from two to eight hours so the cooler temperatures also give you an advantage for a more comfortable visit. There is no swimming at Plitvice Lakes, so don’t think you are missing out by visiting in the autumn.
Krka National Park, Croatia
by Diana of The Elusive Family
Krka National Park is one of Croatia’s most treasured national parks. It draws in millions of visitors a year and it is used as one of the main reasons that tourists come to the country. The park has hundreds of different fish and bird species as well as reptiles, amphibians and a variety of other animals.
Krka is known for its magnificent row of seven waterfalls that fall into a small lake. One of the most unique things about this is that swimmers are allowed to swim in the lake, provided that the current is not strong and the overall temperature is appropriate, as determined by park officials.
Visitors can wander through Krka along the raised boardwalks and green forests. Multiple streams, small waterfalls and rushing water makes the several hours walk remarkable. There are areas higher up in the park which provide superb views of the falls below and make for a great photo opportunity.
In addition to the walk along the boardwalk, the park also has the option of taking a boat ride. A visit to the Visovac monastery is one of the highlights of the boat tour. The park is open year-round and price vary by season.
Lake District National Park, England
Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland
There are so many reasons that Iceland itself is perfect to visit during the fall and you can read about them in A Fall Road Trip around Iceland. While you are visiting Iceland in fall, be sure to visit the Vatnajokull National Park at this time.
While on our fall road trip in Iceland, this was the only spot where I saw fall colors. The scrub over the glacier had the yellows, oranges and reds of fall which are striking against the volcanic black soil and waterfalls. This park is only about a five hour drive from the easily accessible Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city.
We came to the park for hiking and it was a easy hike to the
Mudumalai National Park in India
by Somnath of Travel Crusade
The Mudumalai National Park in India is one of the biggest animal and birds reserves in the country treasuring indian peacocks, tigers and elephants and various species from the deer family. It is a 12 hour drive from the major hubs of South India like Chennai,Bangalore or Hyderabad. The hill station of Ooty is chosen as the centre point for planning a visit to the park and make visits by staying a day or two into the condensed and heap areas of the forest reserve. The car safaris that are done inside the park is of 1 hour duration and does not cover most of the areas which are filled with animals and important birds. It would be wise to stay two days inside the park in lodges and resort. The national park forms a part of the Nilgiris Biospeher Reserve covered by deciduous and evergreen forests.There are provisions for stay inside the national park and enjoy the holidays with friends and families. The national park is one of the largest reserves in South India treasuring unique species from the animal and feathered kingdom.
Akzu Zhabagly, Kazakhstan
Ellis from Backpack Adventures
Akzu Zhabagly is one of Kazakhstan’s most beautiful National parks. With wild mountains, waterfalls, canyons and a rich biodiversity it is a popular destination for hiking and horseriding.
Most people head to Aksu Zhabagly in spring to see the wild tulips bloom. However, there is much more to Aksu Zhabagly than the tulips it is famous for and spring is not the only time that the park is at its most beautiful.
In autumn the colours in the trees are another spectacular event not to miss. In fact, autumn is a perfect period to visit Aksu Zhabagly. The heat of the summer is over and temperatures are still pleasant before winter arrives. Furthermore it is a good time to spot wildlife.
Akzu Zhabagly is one of the few places in central Asia where the rare snow leopard still survives. There are also bears, wolves, mountain sheeps, marmots and a large number of bird species.
Another reason to come in autumn is that you are likely to have the park all to yourself with few other people around. If you are looking for spectacular views and nature, Aksu Zhabagly is the place to go in Autumn.
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
by Jub of Chur New Zealand
Tatra National Park, Poland and Slovakia
by Joanna of Overhere
If you are looking for a beautiful autumn getaway, then Tatra National Park might be just for you. This spectacular mountainous region is divided between Poland and Slovakia. It belongs to the Carpathian mountains and it is often called Eastern European Alps because of its Alpine character. The highest peak – Gerlachovský štít – reaches 2655 metres and is located in Slovakia.
There are many great hiking trails in the Tatra mountains. From easy day hikes in the valleys to multiday hiking routes suitable for experienced hikers – those picturesque mountains are perfect for all kinds of nature admirers.
Main tourist resort near Tatra National Park is Zakopane. It is Poland’s best-known mountain resort. Full of tourist attractions and located very close to the mountains, it attracts mountain lovers from all over the world.
The best time to visit Tatra mountains is autumn and there are several reasons why:
Fewer tourists – Tatras are immensely popular in the summertime and trails tend to get crowded. There is no space in mountain huts and Zakopane also gets busy.
Weather is more stable – there is no risk of summer thunderstorms. The weather may still change fast but not as abruptly as in the summer.
In the winter and spring, the majority of hiking trails in Slovakia are closed. Hiking in Tatra National Park in those seasons is also quite risky because of snow and ice which tends to disappear as late as in June.
Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal
by Josh and Sarah of Veggie Vagabonds
Talk to people about national parks in Europe and you’ll likely hear Plitvice Lakes, the Dolomites, parts of the Alps… what about Peneda-Gerês National Park? Never heard of it? Not many people have but it’s an incredible hiking destination in Northern Portugal which is at its finest in Autumn.
The National Park sits close to the border between Portugal and Spain and at 700 sq-km it’s an adventurer’s playground. You’re spoiled for choice with hiking trails which meander across mountain ranges, through canyons, past waterfalls and along high-passing ridges. It’s also filled with beautiful wildlife and if you’re lucky enough you might even see wolves!
What makes Peneda-Gerês so great at autumn? You’ll likely have the trails to yourself but the weather can still be warm enough for a dip in some of the lakes. On top of this the many forest will turn a warming orange and there much less chance of wildfires!
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Table Mountain National Park, Cape Town, South Africa
by Kenny of Knycx Journeying
Table Mountain is an iconic landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town. Nelson Mandela called Table Mountain ‘a Gift to the Earth’, and it’s one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
There are a lot of things to see and do in the mountains. Hop on the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, and enjoy an unobstructed panoramic view of Cape Town, from the city, the suburbs, the nature, to the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. Admire the dramatic and rugged hills that run along the South African coastline. Look for Verreaux’s eagle, rock kestrel, and the rock dassies that feely roam in the walking trails. Explore the Lion’s Head and Signal Hill, or even go paragliding towards the glorious sunset.
I was told that the “Table Cloth Effect”, a layer of clouds that cover the top of the mountain due to condensed moisture caused by the southeastern wind, happens rather frequently in summer. Therefore, Autumn (March to May) is the best time of the year to visit Table Mountain, as the shoulder season boasts pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices.
Lastly, there are giant yellow frames set up in different locations in Cape Town that capture the mountain from different perspectives. Look for them when you are exploring the rest of Cape Town!
Tsitsikamma Nationa Park, South Africa
Campbell & Alya of Stingy Nomads
Out of many National parks in South Africa, the Tsitsikamma Nationa Park on the Garden Route is one of our favorites. The scenery in Tsitsikamma is stunning, a combination of a rugged coastline with sandy beaches (some of them are hidden between the cliffs) and dense evergreen forest – a perfect place for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Autumn is a perfect time to visit the park, there are not as many tourists here as, during the summer months, the weather is still nice and warm. There are many things and activities to do in the park among them kayaking and lilo in the canyon, hiking there are short day routes and one multi-day trek, snorkeling along the coast (though the water is quite chilly you’ll need a wetsuit), spotting land and marine animals like genets, monkeys, otters, dolphins, and whales. Tsitsikamma is a great place for bird watching as well here you can see African Black Oystercatchers, Giant Kingfishers, Knysna Lourie, different woodpeckers etc. It’s possible to stay inside the park in a cabin or camping both accommodation options offer close proximity to the water which gives great chances to enjoy incredible sunsets and to observe marine life in the park.
Seorak National Park, South Korea
by Cal of Once in a Lifetime Journey
Travelers to South Korea in Autumn are in for a magical treat. The mountains change from green to bright yellow, charred orange and fiery red. While you can explore the popular mountains of Seoul like Bukhansan or Namhansanseong in Gyeonggi province, I would highly recommend heading off to Sokcho to explore one of the most beautiful National Parks in the Land of the Morning Calm, Seorak.
This Unesco biosphere reserve consists of 163.6 sq kms with mountain peaks ranging up to 1,708m (Daecheongbong Peak). The peaks are famous for their jagged shape, looking like gigantic knives cutting through the heavens. There are around 1,000 plant species and over 1,500 animal species like the Siberian flying squirrel, the Chinese minnow. or the Korean musk deer.
Autumn is the most popular time of year to visit Seorak National Park as the weather is perfectly crisp and the leaves are just astounding. There are also some Buddhist temples to find a bit of respite to rest your weary legs. The two temples are Baekdamsa situated at Inner Seorak and Sinheungsa on the way to Ulsanbawi.
While hiking is highly recommended, those in a rush or on a day trip can ride the cable car to Gwongeumseong Fortress. But for fit travelers or mountaineers, you can hike all the way to the top of Daecheongbong peak in about 4 hours. Getting from Seoul by bus will take another 4 hours, so it’s best to stay over in Sokcho which is also a great city to visit.
Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland
by Corina of Another Milestone
One the best kept secrets in Europe is the national park shared by Germany and Czech Republic: Saxon Switzerland (the German part) and Bohemian Switzerland (the Czechian part). Formed along the Elba river, this park hosts rocky landscapes and rich forests, some of them without human intervention. Even though the park is amazing all year long, in autumn thousand shades of red, orange and yellow colour the forest around.
There are several trails in the park for those that love a walk in nature and some perfect places for climbing. The German part praises with Bastei bridge, a natural wonder that stuns every visitor. From Bastei bridge you can also admire the beautiful view of Elba river.
Once you cross the border in Czech Republic, Bohemian Switzerland offers other landscapes with “wow factor”. The lonely roads through the forest usually end with amazing places that can be explored only walking. One example is Labská stráž, a terrace built on top of the mountain, above Elba’s riverbed. Another example is the place considered Narnia land, since the movie was filmed here: Tisa rocks. The trail to visit Tisa rocks is very easy and deserves all the effort. A walk through this labyrinth of high cliffs will make you want to come back and visit more of this park. You won’t need more to fall in love with this wonder and start planning your next trip here!
Did you notice that there are no parks listed here in the United States? That because there are so many they needed their own post! Read on for the 15 best US national parks to visit in fall…