When and where to spot the best Autumn scenery in our national parks

Fall color isn’t always where you expect to find it.

Quick story: The assignment, years ago, was to do a story on fall color at Yosemite National Park. Got there, and everything Yosemite was supposed to have was present that day in mid-October: Half Dome, El Capitan, waterfalls, all of it.

And from Glacier Point, one of the world’s great overlooks and the logical place to spot anything resembling fall color in Yosemite — no fall color. So we asked a ranger, Where is the very best place to see fall color? He winced.

“People come up to me all the time, and they look around and they say, ‘We came for the fall colors. Where are they?’ And I (point toward Nevada and) go, ‘That way, about 3,000 miles.’ ”

What follows is information on fall color at a few of our 59 official U.S. national parks. This isn’t a comprehensive list — yes, we know about the color at the Tetons and Hot Springs and whichever other park we’ll be accused of overlooking. But this curated collection spanning coast to coast is a good place to start. Peak color times are variable; check the park websites in season for color updates.

Learn where and when here…


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