NINE UNDERRATED MOUNTAIN WEST PARKS TO VISIT THIS FALL 

 The Mountain West is an amazing region of the U.S. The region has a diverse environment ranging from high alpine mountain views to red rock layers and everything in between. The benefit: there are so many different types of adventures and trips available. We’ve put together a list of underrated National Parks in the Mountain West that are perfect for a last minute fall trip.

Photo credit: Capitol Reef National Park 

UTAH

For the Fall Colors
CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK

While red rock reigns supreme at Utah national parks, the fruit trees near Capitol Reef are at the base of the tall rock walls, and they offer a surprising amount of yellow leaves in the fall months. After the summer monsoon season (June to September), Capitol Reef offers mild temperatures and plenty of stunning colorful views.

Average temperatures
Month High / Low(°F)
September 79° / 52°
October 65° / 41°
November 50° / 28°

To Get The Most Out of Warm Weather
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK 

Canyonlands is an absolutely fantastic park to escape to warmer weather. The Eastern Utah park near Moab has vast views, as well as warmer average day temperatures well into October. And watching the sunlight rise and set onto the rock is a great substitute for vibrant autumn colors.

Average temperatures
Month High / Low(°F)
September 84° / 51°
October 70° / 38°
November 55° / 27°

COLORADO

For the Fall Colors
BLACK CANYON and GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK

Water is a powerful force. And it’s carved out a beautiful canyon that goes well with fall colors. While summer activities include kayaking and guided river trips, fall holds perfect temperatures for hiking along the rim of the canyon to sightsee the flowing water from a slightly different point of view. The black walls of the ravine offer a stark difference for the bright yellow and orange fall leaves. And if the air gets a little too chilly for comfort, scenic drives along the Colorado highways still offer beautiful views.

Average temperatures
Month High / Low(°F)
September 81° / 49°
October 68° / 39°
November 56° / 29°

MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK 

Nothing is quite as humbling as seeing the dwellings of people that lived over 1,000 years ago. Mesa Verde is home to some of the best preserved archaeological sites in the U.S., and there are plenty of cave dwellings to gaze upon and plenty of history to learn. While the cave dwelling tours are currently on hold, the park still has the main roads opened for access to driving tours and multiple hiking trails.

Average temperatures
Month High / Low(°F)
September 74° / 46°
October 61° / 36°
November 48° / 25°

To Get The Most Out of Warm Weather
GREAT DUNES NATIONAL PARK

Who would have thought that you would feel like you were in a typical desert in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. Great Dunes National Park offers a unique experience, as well as mild temperatures in the fall while mountainous areas of the state will be having chances of snow. Vibrant leaves may not be physically close, but the sandy dunes have a beautiful Colorado mountain background.

Average Temperatures 
Month High / Low(°F)
September 74° / 45°4 days
October 62° / 34°3 days
November 48° / 23°

Photo credit: Great Basin National Park 

NEVADA
 
For the Fall Colors
GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK

Want alpine views that are far from ordinary? Nevada’s Great Basin National Park has tall mountains, grassy meadows, lakes, and even caves. The park roads wander along creeks, and they offer access to multiple hikes, lookouts, and auto tours perfect for exploring during autumn.

Average Temperatures
Month High / Low(°F)
September 67° / 43°
October 52° / 30°
November 40° / 19°

CALIFORNIA

For the Fall Colors
LASSEN NATIONAL PARK

Yellowstone isn’t the only National Park that has hydrothermal attractions. Lassen National park located in Eastern California offers a variety of thermal pools, volcanos, water features, and forests. If you are looking for the classic fall views, imagine color-changing foliage-covered meadows meeting evergreen coniferous trees with high volcanic mountains in the background, and then pack the car for Lassen to see this vision become reality.

Average Temperatures
Month High / Low(°F)
September 70° / 35°
October 58° / 29°
November 46° / 23°

To Get The Most Out of Warm Weather
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

Now that the heat of summer has come and gone, autumn is the ideal time to head to desert destinations like Joshua Tree. Instead of adventuring during long scorching days, you are able to enjoy hikes, climbs, and bike rides at high noon in milder temps. Explore the wild environment of the California desert, and with little chance for rain, you will be able to gaze upon the Milky Way during the warm nights.

Average Temperatures
Month High / Low(°F)
September 94° / 64°
October 83° / 54°
November 72° / 44°

ARIZONA

To Get The Most Out of Warm Weather
PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK

Most patrons may head to the actual forest to get a glimpse of changing leaves, the Petrified Forest in Eastern Arizona offers a very different destination for fall. The vast exposed hills allow a warmer getaway, while the petrified trees offer a surreal unique experience unlike any other park.

Average Temperatures
Month High / Low(°F)
September 84° / 53°
October 73° / 42°
November 60° / 30°

What’s your favorite National Park to visit in the fall?


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