Best National Parks to Visit in September

September is the perfect time to visit some of America’s most beloved national parks. The crowds have thinned, the air is fresh, and in the northern states, the forests have exploded into a riot of glorious fall colors. The summer-to-fall seasonal change is a wonderful time to book a vacation rental in or near a national park to explore some of the country's most beautiful flora and fauna. To get you started on your vacation planning, we have compiled the best national parks to visit in September.

Acadia National Park, ME

acadia.jpgFall is the time to plan that visit to Maine’s Acadia National Park. A Southwest Harbor vacation rental will give you a view of some of the most beautiful fall colors you have ever seen. Bring your camera and some solid hiking shoes to head out on Acadia’s 170 miles of trails and carriage roads. For an incredible view of the Atlantic on a calm day, plan to hike the four mile Ocean Path, which leads from the Otter Point parking area right to the sandy beach.

Grand Teton National Park, WY

When you visit Grand Teton National Park in September you may already see snow, and fall is the best time to see large wildlife such as elk and moose on their way to their winter homes. On Teton Park Road, be on the lookout for the Oxbow Bend Turnout that overlooks the Snake River. Not only is it the best view of the Teton Mountains, but it’s also prime moose-watching territory. Look for a nice vacation rental in the forest near Jackson. If you stick around long enough, you may even get an early start on ski season.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

There are more than 800 miles of hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, winding through the gorgeous mountains that border North Carolina and Tennessee. This is one of the best national parks to visit in September, when the weather has cooled off just a little, and all the kids have headed back to school. Book a vacation rental around Gatlinburg for lots of activities and historic places to visit, such as the Ogle Cabin and the Tennessee Heritage Trail. A nice way to explore the park is on horseback. Book a day of riding with Smoky Mountain Stables or Sugarlands Stables , both close to Gatlinburg.

Cape Cod National Seashore, MA

cape-cod-paddle-boat.jpgBook a beachfront vacation rental in Wellfleet, Provincetown or Eastham, and rent some bikes for a gorgeous fall bike ride through the Cape Cod National Seashore. The weather is still gorgeous here in September, and you'll have more room to yourself since the summer visitors have all packed up and gone home. The Head of the Meadows bike trail runs a nearly six-mile loop between Herring Cove Beach, Race Point Beach and Bennett Pond, with many pretty places to stop for a rest along the way. Keep in mind, state law requires bike helmets on anyone 16 and younger.

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, ID

Near Ketchum, Idaho, you will find one of the most colorfully-named and otherworldly-landscaped national parks. It is aptly named because that is exactly what it looks like. The region was formed thousands of years ago by a flowing lava river that covered nearly 700 square miles, and today it looks like a lunar landscape. It is one of the best national parks to visit in September, when the autumnal shades of yellow and orange coloring the surrounding hills form a perfect complement to the reds, browns and blacks of the rock. You can drive the seven-mile scenic loop through the park, or better yet, hike the North Crater Flow Trail, which takes you up to the Spatter Cones and the Devil’s Orchard. You should also pick up a cave permit at the Visitor Center so you can explore Indian Tunnel and the Buffalo Caves.

Vacation Rentals in Acadia National Park

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7  Night Minimum Stay
4 BR, 2 BA, 1 HF, Sleeps 8


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4 - 6  Night Minimum Stay
4 BR, 2 BA, Sleeps 12


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7  Night Minimum Stay
4 BR, 2 BA, Sleeps 6


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3 - 7  Night Minimum Stay
1 BR, 1 BA, Sleeps 6


7  Night Minimum Stay
2 BR, 2 BA, Sleeps 3