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Shades of Perfection

4 National and State Parks with Outstanding Fall Foliage

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” So said Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde.

It seems that fall is the one season that everybody likes. If you ask people what their favorite season is, we’re willing to bet that the majority will cite fall as their favorite. You’ll get votes for summer, but some feel summer is too hot. Obviously, winter can get pretty cold. Spring has nice flowers but can be muddy and gray, and you find yourself anxious for summer to arrive.

But fall is like summer without the extremes. It’s a comfortable season where you can wear hoodies and jeans, and it features two of the top holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

And foliage is what truly makes fall special. Nothing marks the passage of summer into fall like green leaves taking on fresh new looks.

Which – if we remember back to science class – has to do with leaves halting the production of chlorophyll. Once trees sense shorter days with less sunlight, a burst of fall colors is sure to follow.

Leaves change color quite spectacularly in America’s national and state parks. Here are four fall destinations that are known for their stunning foliage:

St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, Montana

Sprawling Glacier National Park encompasses more than a million acres. That offers ample space for a staggering number of trees. A foliage best bet? Going-to-the-Sun Road, which in fall should really be called Going-to-Blow-Your-Mind Road. Wow.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

The Smoky Mountains feature more than 100 types of native trees, so fall foliage is something the park does very well. October and November tend to be the best months to experience the park’s kaleidoscope of colors, with the Blue Ridge Parkway offering endless leaf peeping possibilities.
Skyline Drive in fall in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Fall is the most popular time to visit Shenandoah. With cooler temperatures, it’s easier to explore the park’s 516 miles of hiking trails. There, you’ll experience landscapes of yellow, orange, red and several colors in between on maple, red oak, birch trees and more.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Way up north in the Pine Tree State, you’ll find that smaller crowds gather at Acadia National Park in autumn. And in early October, you’ll experience peak fall foliage. Pro tip: check out the views of the trees from appropriately-named Cadillac Mountain.
A bugling elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

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