Discover the 11 Best National Parks to Visit in September

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Published: April 1, 2022
Image Credit canadastock/Shutterstock.com
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Do you love fall travel and seek the best national parks to visit in September? This article shares 11 amazing national parks that you can tour in September, why you should visit each, and what to expect from them.

September is one of the best times of the year to take a national park adventure in the United States. It’s less crowded than in the summer, accommodation is less expensive, animals are more active, the weather is nicer, and most parks are open and their trails widely accessible. You also get a chance to see the changing colors of fall and its stunning foliage.

All national park lovers always dream of experiencing parks without crowd and weather frustration. It makes each park more appealing since you can fully explore all the outdoor activities comfortably.  

Here are the most spectacular national parks to visit in September:

1. Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park - Bass Harbor
Acadia National Park is home to diverse forests, pink granite mountains, and sweeping coastal vistas.

Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.com

Acadia National Park

StateMaine
Size49,052 Acres
Animal to SeeFox
Attraction to SeeBass Harbor Head Lighthouse

September is ideal for visiting Acadia National Park when the heavy summer crowds are already gone. The temperatures range between 49℉ to 68℉, making it possible to undertake all outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and scenic drives.

Acadia is best known for its stunning foliage. During fall, Acadia reveals its beauty through a mixture of yellow, orange, purple, and red foliage, differentiating the park from the rest. The park has incredible natural features, having been landscaped by beavers and sculpted by glaciers.

Acadia is home to diverse forests, pink granite mountains, and sweeping coastal vistas. These places are home to mammals such as turtles, snakes, beavers, falcons, eagles, foxes, deer, salamanders, and many water-based birds like loons.

Acadia has many thrilling hiking trails- from easy strolls along coastal parts to amazing cliff walks- there’s truly something for everyone!

2. Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park - Skyline Drive
Shenandoah National Park is home to Old Rag Mountain, diverse forests, rocky peaks, wetlands, and waterfalls.

Vladimir Grablev/Shutterstock.com

Shenandoah National Park

StateVirginia
Size199,173 Acres
Animal to SeeBlack Bear
Attraction to SeeOld Rag Mountain

Shenandoah National Park is another unique park you can visit in September. The park is famous for its  Skyline Drive along the mountain ridges. There are also over 500 trails within Shenandoah where one can go hiking.

Shenandoah is also home to Old Rag Mountain, diverse forests, rocky peaks, wetlands, and waterfalls. The Old Rag provides the toughest and one of the best hikes in the mid-Atlantic region. It may be strenuous to hike the mountain, but it’s worth it because you get the perfect view of the park once you’re at the top.

Several animals live in the park, including the eastern cottontail rabbit, opossum, gray fox, groundhog, elusive black bear, bobcat, and deer. Shenandoah also provides a habitat for many species of birds.

3. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is populated by mammals such as wolverines, mountain lions, grizzly bears, Canada lynx, and coyotes.

iStock.com/SL_Photography

Yellowstone National Park

StateWyoming
Size2,221,766 Acres
Animal to SeeCanada Lynx
Attraction to SeeOld Faithful

Located in northwestern Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park is home to the most famous geysers in the United States. September is an excellent month for sightseeing at Yellowstone. Many of the park’s iconic animals tend to be more visible in September- either mating or preparing for winter.

Yellowstone is primarily populated by mammals such as wolverines, mountain lions, grizzly bears, Canada lynx, and coyotes. The park also hosts ungulate species like mountain goats, bison, white-tailed deer, moose, and elk.

Take a scenic drive to Lamar Valley, one of the best places where you can view some of the largest predators. You will also have a prime opportunity to see other animals while hiking through Hayden Valley and the Coyote Creek Trail.

4. Rocky Mountain National Park

Best National Parks to Visit in August - Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is well known for its alpine tundra, protected mountains, and diverse forests.

Sean Xu/Shutterstock.com

Rocky Mountain National Park

StateNorthern Colorado
Size265,769 Acres
Animal to SeeMountain Lion
Attraction to SeeAlpine Tundra

Rocky Mountain National Park is among the most visited places in Colorado. The park is well known for its alpine tundra, protected mountains, and diverse forests with the most beautiful views of the park. September is the best month to visit Rocky Mountain when all the hiking trails and attractions are accessible.

While exploring the park, you will encounter or may see several animals like pikas, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, elks, and numerous birds. It’s not surprising that wildlife viewing is the most popular thing for people to do each year.

From the surrounding Bear Lake, you get the best views of the peaks. You can also hike through Old Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road.

5. Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is located in Montana.

VIKVAD/Shutterstock.com

Glacier National Park

StateMontana
Size1,013,322 Acres
Animal to SeeGrizzly Bear
Attraction to SeeLake McDonald

Glacier National Park is another fantastic park in Montana with breathtaking glacier-carved peaks. In September, you should visit the park if you want to hike the trails, camp in the quietest areas, and enjoy the peaceful scenic drives.

Glacier is home to diverse species of mammals. You can see lots of amazing wildlife at Glacier from bighorn sheep, wolves, wolverines, bears, moose, and mountain goats. Increase your chance of seeing some of these animals by visiting Logan Pass, the Avalanche Lake Trail, and many glacier roads. 

6. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is best known for its huge ancient sequoia trees.

iStock.com/agaliza

Yosemite National Park

StateCalifornia
Size759,620 Acres
Animal to SeeBlack Bear
Attraction to SeeGlacier Point, Yosemite Falls

Situated in California, Yosemite National Park is best known for its huge ancient sequoia trees. The park is also famous for its waterfalls and Tunnel View. September is the best time to visit Yosemite to explore hiking and rock-climbing activities in less crowded areas.

Yosemite National Park is also home to more than 400 fascinating species of mammals. If you visit Mariposa Grove and Tuolumne Meadows, you’re more likely to see a coyote, black bear, mule deer, or Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.

Take a scenic drive along Tioga Road to get a great view of the surrounding area or even catch a glimpse of bears. You may also be able to view Half Dome and Clouds Rest while driving on Tioga Road.

7. Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is famous for its dramatic landscape.

canadastock/Shutterstock.com

Canyonlands National Park

StateSoutheastern Utah
Size257,640 Acres
Animal to SeeMountain Lion
Attraction to SeeMesa Arch

September is the perfect month to visit Canyonlands National Park due to pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds. The park is famous for its dramatic landscape, together with hundreds of miles of hiking trails to explore.

Around 50 species of animals live in the park. Some of the most common animals in the park include cougars, foxes, skunks, coyotes, mountain lions, elks, badgers, bobcats, pronghorns, black bears, kangaroo rats, and desert cottontails. About 273 bird species also inhabit the park.

If you have your heart set on stargazing, you may camp in the Needles or on the Island of the Sky. The campgrounds are less crowded in September. Because of this, you will be able to see a lot of stars in the sky peacefully at night.

8. Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park - John Moulton Barn
Grand Teton National Park is home to various animals, including moose, bison, and bear.

anthony heflin/Shutterstock.com

Grand Teton National Park

StateWyoming
Size310,000 Acres
Animal to SeeGrizzly and Black Bear
Attraction to SeeJackson Hole Mountain Resort

Grand Teton National Park is truly one of the joys of the U.S. national park system. September is the best month to visit Grand Teton since all areas are accessible, allowing you to enjoy the iconic beauty and stature of the park all by yourself. 

Explore several activities at Grand Teton, including a boat ride across Jenny Lake and scenic hiking trails to the jagged mountain peaks. Take a road trip to Signal Mountain, where you will get amazing panoramic views of the park, Jackson Lake, and the Teton range.

Grand Teton is home to various animals, including moose, bison, and bear. Large predatory animals like mountain lions also live in the park, although they are more elusive. Look for these animals at the Oxbow Bend, Timbered Island, Moose Bridge, Blacktail Ponds, and National Elk Refuge.

9. Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park - Santa Elena Canyon
Big Bend National Park is a hiker’s paradise and a perfect place to tour in September.

Paul Leong/Shutterstock.com

Big Bend National Park

StateWest Texas
Size801,163 Acres
Animal to SeeKit Fox
Attraction to SeeSanta Elena Canyon Trail

Located in West Texas, bordering Mexico, Big Bend National Park is a hiker’s paradise and a perfect place to tour in September. The temperatures are more favorable for outdoor activities such as hiking, scenic drives, camping, and photography. The park provides over 150 miles of magnificent desert and mountain trails to explore.

Big Bend is home to many nocturnal desert animals such as kangaroo rats, kit foxes, bobcats, ringtails, and several species of bats, which are found throughout the park. If you’re lucky enough, you might see desert cottontails, jackrabbits, coyotes, and mule deer early in the morning or late in the evening.

Big Bend is also rich in cultural history. The history of the natives who lived or passed through Big Bend has been captured using archeological sites and pictographs so that people may learn while at the park.

10. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park - Landscape
Joshua Tree National Park is located in Southern California.

Dennis Silvas/Shutterstock.com

Joshua Tree National Park

StateSouthern California
Size790,636 Acres
Animal to SeeWhite-tailed Antelope
Attraction to SeeKeys Views, Skull Rock

Joshua Tree National Park is an important part of the Colorado and Mojave desert ecosystems. Around 52 species of animals, including the white-tail antelope, mule deer, squirrels, and coyotes, depend on the Joshua Tree for food and shelter. 

Keep your eyes on yucca branches to spot orioles feeding their young ones or making nests. You may also come across wood rat nests made of yucca leaves at the base of the rocks. Desert night lizards roam around in the evening in search of tasty insects.

September is the best time to visit Joshua Tree due to fewer crowds and pleasant weather. So, you will be able to get the perfect view of the stark desert landscapes and rugged rock formations. Hike through the boulders of the Hidden Valley, a great introduction to the northern parts of the Mojave Desert.

11. Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park - Airboat
Everglades National Park is famous for the most diverse ecosystem in the world.

GagliardiPhotography/Shutterstock.com

Everglades National Park

StateFlorida
Size1.5 Million Acres
Animal to SeeAmerican Alligator
Attraction to SeeTheater of the Sea, Robbie’s

Being among the top 10 best national parks in the U.S,  Everglades National Park is famous for the most diverse ecosystem in the world. It’s easy to miss out on many things while at the park unless you have a guide or someone familiar with the surroundings.

The Everglades is home to hundreds of wildlife species. Some of the keystone animals include alligator, coral snake, peacock, crappie fish, turtle, alligator gar, egret, skunk, and largemouth bass.

The park also provides habitat for the most endangered leatherback turtle, West Indian manatee, and Florida panther. You may see most of these animals at Shark Valley or the Anhinga Trail located in Royal Palm.

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