The US has the best national parks to visit in November, so if you’re someone who always thought summer was park time, prepare to get your mind changed.
Yes, summer is a fantastic time to experience the outdoors when the lakes and rivers are refreshing and the skies are clear.
But in the fall, the parks’ rich, jewel-hued colors of autumn and crisp air are perfectly rejuvenating. The best national parks to visit in autumn will have a full array of activities as well as special events that lure visitors from all around.
Yet, the crowds to be expected during peak season, i.e. summer, won’t usually be found. With kids back in school and families looking to stay close to home until winter break, autumn is the nice in-between time where you can find space to move freely and maybe even in complete solitude.
If the sounds of crunchy leaves underfoot and the warmth of a thermos of pumpkin-spice flavored coffee kindle a lust in you to wander, try this list of the best national parks to visit in November.
Table of Contents
- 1. Everglades National Park
- 2. Death Valley National Park
- 3. Yosemite National Park
- 4. Acadia National Park
- 5. Zion National Park
- 6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- 7. Grand Canyon National Park
- 8. Yellowstone National Park
- 9. Grand Teton National Park
- 10. Glacier National Park
- 11. Arches National Park
- 12. Rocky Mountain National Park
- 13. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
1. Everglades National Park
On a list of national parks to visit in the fall, we’re not sure if this even needs to be said. But the fascinating sub-tropical wetlands called the Everglades National Park, covering a couple of million acres of south Florida, are ever so much more comfortable to visit in the low-ish temperatures of November.
This park is a delicate ecosystem and home to multitudes of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Everglades National Park weather in November is still warm but this time of year is the start of a typically dry winter.
Water levels are low and the animals tend to hang out right at the water source. Paddle a canoe in or take a kayak tour to see where the water birds unique to the Everglades congregate and feed.
What makes the Everglades one of the best parks to visit in November is the abundance of wildlife you won’t find anywhere else. You’ll be sure to see plenty of alligators, fish, and manatees. Other fun, exclusively Everglades things to do are airboat rides, like this one from Orlando, and crocodile spotting.
2. Death Valley National Park
Topping our list of best US national parks to visit in November is the ominous-sounding Death Valley National Park in California.
It’s called Death Valley because temperatures in the summer can run well into the triple digits. So what makes a place like this one of the best parks to visit in November? In contrast to more mountainous parks when organized activities wind down, ranger-guided tours begin in late October.
Death Valley National Park weather in November is even more pleasant. Comfortably and safely explore old west mining outposts, ghost towns, and salt dunes and basins.
The stark Badwater Basin is the lowest, and perhaps eeriest, point in North America. Full-day tours are also available from Las Vegas.
3. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park weather in November only adds to the drama and beauty of this California treasure. Some areas may close due to treacherous, snowy conditions, but most of it is widely accessible and, best of all, not packed with people.
Surrounded by the majestic Sierra Nevada, Yosemite is famous for tours like this one of the giant sequoias. Tunnel View, captured in black and white by famed photographer Ansel Adams, can be found as a viewpoint on Highway 41.
Find it and you’ll see the iconic vista of Bridalveil Falls opposite El Capitan with Half Dome in the background. Breathtaking any time of year, the autumn colors of the forest make this view, and the entire park, extra special.
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4. Acadia National Park
When researching what national parks are best to visit in November, you can’t overlook Acadia National Park in Maine. Often referred to as the crown jewel of the North Atlantic Coast it’s most famous for its incredible hiking and amazing ocean frontage.
This park gets awfully crowded in the summer, so fall is the best time to hike, bike, and enjoy all that Acadia has to offer before winter weather sets in.
Acadia National Park weather in November turns much cooler, signaling the end of fall foliage tourism, the time when cruise ships drop off thousands of passengers at Bar Harbor.
You’ll miss the blazing leaves, but you’ll have miles of trails all to yourself. And you definitely won’t miss the huge swells of leaf-hunting tourists.
Enjoy the silence!
5. Zion National Park
One of the best national parks to visit in November has to be Zion located in southern Utah. Its long autumn season makes November traveling safe and enjoyable.
Check out this tour of the things to do and attractions in Zion from the ViaTravelers YouTube channel.
With the departure of summer crowds, visitors can take all the time they need to explore the park. This tour will allow you to fully experience all the scenic beauty this park has to offer. Zion National Park’s weather in November is mild with beautiful sunny skies.
The canyon is the best place to see fall foliage colors. If you’re interested in doing some serious hiking, the lesser-known trails are mostly empty and water levels are much lower than in the summertime, particularly in the area known as The Narrows.
Start your hiking adventures early in the morning and you’ll also spot wildlife along your way. Sound like your kind of park? Check out these best things to do in Zion National Park.
See Related: Best Hotels in Zion National Park
6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Of all the national parks to visit in the fall, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will give you the best autumn foliage there is to see. Almost 100 different species of trees will change colors, blanketing the cliffs and ridges in bright oranges and yellows.
One of the best features of the Great Smoky Mountains is the rich history of the area and the little towns you’ll find nestled in the ancient hills.
There’s amazing cuisine found in these parts, whether it’s in a humble pancake house or an upscale eatery offering fresh fish and steaks.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park weather in November is pleasant. Amid all the gorgeous fall colors, you’ll also find an abundance of places for a picnic.
Work up an appetite with a hike through the historical woods that surround old log homes, churches, and mills. Start early in the morning and watch the sun break through the fog and trees.
After a full day of mountain fun, you’ll get a great night’s sleep in any number of lodges and cabins available around the park. Helicopter and jeep tours like this one of this vast and beautiful forestland are also available.
7. Grand Canyon National Park
Many would agree that the Grand Canyon is one of the best US National Parks to visit in November due to its immense beauty and lack of crowds. Grand Canyon National Park weather in November will have temperatures much more pleasurable too.
If you’ve had problems getting a permit for backcountry hiking in the Grand Canyon, applying for one in November may be the solution.
But any of the trails will be mostly all yours this time of year. Or take this guided tour to get the best canyon views. Plan your visit around the South Rim for the most predictable conditions and open facilities.
However, if you’d like to check out the splendor of the park from the North Rim, the road is usually open barring heavy snow. You can also find lodging and restaurants less than an hour’s drive from there.
Otherwise, seeing and photographing the Grand Canyon lightly dusted with November snow is a treat few people get to experience.
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8. Yellowstone National Park
The answer to what national parks are best to visit in November may lie in one of the most famous areas in the world--Yellowstone in rugged, wild Wyoming, with claims in Montana and Idaho too.
Once again, if peace and solitude are what you seek in an outdoor adventure, this park delivers. Yellowstone National Park weather in November is more winter than autumn.
Only one road is open in the park from November until April and that is the one going from the north entrance to the northwest entrance.
However, this road is probably the most scenic. And, there’s still much to see on a hike on one of the wide-open trails in Mammoth and Lamar Valley, including bison herds and maybe even bears. Backcountry hiking is also available, conditions permitting.
A visitor center with a museum is open year-round and staffed with rangers who are happy to answer any questions. If you are looking to book your trip, read our full guide on where to stay in Yellowstone to maximize your trip.
9. Grand Teton National Park
If you’re looking for wildlife in the national parks to visit in the fall, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming will never disappoint.
Snow will blanket the landscape by November, but after a quick check with park rangers about conditions, you should be all set to enjoy this winter playground. Skiers and snowshoers love the open trails, while photographers aim for the abundant wildlife that calls Grand Teton home.
Winter camping by the permit is also available, as well as this guided day tour. Spot elk, moose, and bison as they wander the slopes or try ice-fishing.
With most of the roadways closed to automobile traffic, you’re free to explore all you like by snowmobile, or, even better, cross-country skiing. Grand Teton National Park weather in November makes this area take on an other-worldly quality.
The clouds sweep over the ranges rising out of the snow-covered ground without foothills. So dramatic, yet utterly beautiful.
10. Glacier National Park
Listing this far northern region as a national park to visit in the fall is a bit misleading. Because Glacier National park weather in November is typical winter snow and ice.
Yet, glaciers are what you come to see, and Glacier National Park is incredible in winter. Nearby Whitefish is a wonderful ski town and makes a great base to enjoy winter sports with a day planned to explore the winter wonderland adjacent.
Or, get a permit to winter camp. Once inside Glacier, you can ski or snowshoe. Ranger-guided tours are available on winter weekends. November, and throughout the winter months, winds and snow may bring low clouds, so the peaks may not always be visible.
However, if breathtaking winter landscapes make you feel warm inside, Glacier National Park this time of year is perfection.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Alaska
11. Arches National Park
Like the other best national parks to visit in November on our list, Arches National Park in Utah offers fewer crowds and none of the scorching heat of summer.
The visitors center is open and there is winter camping at Devil’s Garden Campground. Most trails are open too. Rangers advise bringing along trekking poles and waterproof boots and getting the latest snow reports at the visitors center before heading out.
Arches National Park weather in November doesn’t usually include large amounts of snow at one time. The best part of visiting Arches this time of year, though, is not having to wait in line to get your photos of the iconic rock formations.
You can take as many as you like because you may be the only photographer there. Take this guided tour to find the best vistas.
See Related: Best Southwestern Destinations
12. Rocky Mountain National Park
Similar to Yosemite National Park weather in November, conditions in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park can range from chilly to arctic.
But you can avoid deep snows by keeping to the lower elevations on the eastern side. For high-country camping and backpacking, you’ll need winter weather gear.
Cold weather and snow aside, the breathtaking mountain scenery is worth making the trip too, especially as there are no crowds. Even short hikes will make you feel as if you’re the only tiny human existing in these majestic ranges.
Every square inch of this massive park will make a photograph worthy of a magazine even if you take it from the car. Rocky Mountain National Park weather in November rarely has the big snowfalls like in the deep winter months.
Big, blue skies, solitude, and an abundance of wildlife make this national park a delight to visit with a tour like this one. Complete your visit with a stay in Estes Park, a charming mountain community with great lodging and restaurants.
13. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
One of the amazing national parks to visit in the fall is the unsung gorgeous acreage located in the middle of the US in Ohio. In November, Cuyahoga Valley National Park comes alive when the larch and witch hazel turn brilliant, golden colors.
What makes Cuyahoga Valley one of the best parks to visit in November is how easily accessible it is from anywhere in the Midwest.
It offers an abundance of trails for walking, running, and biking, and it’s a birder’s paradise. There are many waterfalls to explore, the Everett Covered Bridge is totally Instagrammable, and the fall foliage in November practically glows with glorious color.
Especially when its Midwestern skies turn a lovely shade of lavender at sunrise and sunset. Overnight camping is available. Cuyahoga Valley National Park weather in November is chilly with typical fall breezes and a crisp, pleasant feeling in the air.
From majestic snow-covered mountain peaks to the stark drama of desert landscapes, these best national parks to visit in November refuse to be defined by their summer traffic and temperatures.
See a whole new side to them with an off-season visit. With their peaceful trails, energized wildlife, and inspiring fall colors, national parks in November are the best places to find some long-lost solitude.
It’s an incredible way to relieve stress in yourself and on the land. And as a nation, our national parks system represents a time when Americans came together in the best way possible to offer each other, and future generations, unspoiled spaces where conservation, hospitality, and friendship always prevail.
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