Friday, October 7, 2011

Top National Parks for Leaf Peeping

Crisp air, fresh apples, new sweaters, lots of homework:  must be fall! In honor of leaves changing colors throughout the country, the National Park Foundation is sharing 2011's "Great National Parks for Fall Foliage" list.

Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America's national parks, working with the NPS for their preservation and management. This year's Foliage list -- as always impacted by recent local conditions and weather systems -- includes some iconic parks and a few lesser-known treasures.  Each national park location, however, offers unique ways in which visitors can view the colorful foliage.  Whether by water, foot, bicycle or car, these dramatic colors of the season are not to be missed.

Many factors impact the timing of peak fall colors viewing, therefore, foliage seekers are encouraged to contact specific parks for the inside scoop on their unique foliage timing.  The National Park Service website contains contact information and special event listings for all 395 national park units.

This year's list, and the optimal times for foliage viewing, includes:

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Peak colors expected middle to end of October. On October 18, a hiking event to Whiskeytown Falls offer a perfect way to view the foliage during the peak season.

Curecanti National Recreational Area
Peak colors begin in late September and run through the end of October.

Natchez Trace Parkway
In middle to late October, the maple, hickory, oak and other hardwood trees begin to change colors.

Glacier National Park
The bright yellow and gold colors on the aspen and larch trees run through mid-October covering the trails around the park, but particularly along Summit Trail. For more information on the best trails to see colors or view photos of the fall colors, visit Glacier's Facebook page,

Flight 93 National Memorial
The trees across the Flight 93 National Memorial begin to turn around mid-October.  Check out today to find instant inspiration for a trip to the site or to take a virtual fall foliage tour.

Great Smokey Mountains National Park
The Great Smokey Mountains boast over 130 different tree species, many of which  produce breathtaking Autumnal colors. Peak foliage viewing depends greatly on the various levels of elevation found within the park, but overall, the Smokies' foliage shows run from late September through October.

Zion National Park
Peak foliage colors appear at the end of October and into the first few days of November.

Shenandoah National Park
Peak colors in the upper elevations begin early to mid-October with lower elevations peaking at the end of October into November.

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park
Rich with sugar maples and 400-year-old hemlocks, this site boasts outstanding fall foliage each year.  This year's prime viewing is expected from mid-October through early November.

Apostles Islands National Lakeshore
Peak foliage viewing various depending on inland or coastal location, however the foliage show runs from late September through October.  Additionally, many bird species are migrating through the park right now, so foliage seekers get an extra show from Mother Nature.
These are only a few of the exceptional national parks from which to take in the changing of the seasons.  To find out more about what is happening in the national parks and for ways to support these American treasures, please visit

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