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Autumn colours in American national parks

Article published
01.11.2015 kl 07:00
National park in fall colors.
In America, even the nature is on a large scale – and at an easy reach. On the east coast, New England's leaf peeping has become a well-known seasonal event.

Dozens of trees glow in all shades of red and yellow at slightly different times, with the magnificent maples the most striking among them. You can follow the predictions and reports for autumn foliage online.

World-famous maple syrup is made in the spring. Did you know that Vermont produces the largest quantities of maple syrup out of all US states? And that maple syrup was known and already enjoyed by American Indians?

And, of course, Vermont is renowned for its legendary Ben & Jerry's ice cream! You can even visit the factory in Waterbury.

Fall days are sunny in New England, and the rolling scenery is dotted with little towns with a distinct feel of the old continent. This is not a place to rush through, but to stop and linger at roadside diners, chatting with the locals.

At the northern tip of Maine, Acadia National Park awes you with its impressive sea views.

Everyone's favourite destinations

America's national parks are famous: the 58 parks are visited by some 70 million people every year.

The most popular of them (with roughly 9 million yearly visitors) is the Great Smoky Mountains, 1,200 km of hilly terrain along the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.

The park is known for its waterfalls and fall foliage colours – the selection of different trees is said to amount to a hundred. The highest mountains are about two kilometres tall.

The roads are asphalted and walking routes include options for all levels of fitness, and the park also offers opportunities for fishing and horse-riding. The best starting point in any park is the Visitors' Center, offering all the information you need to plan your programme for the day.

The parks have great picnic areas for eating your own sandwiches. A light-weight cooler is a handy travel accessory, especially because all hotels are equipped with ice machines. One of our own favourite roadside restaurants is IHOP, whose pancakes are certainly filling enough for anyone.

The most popular parks are rather crowded at weekends. From the Great Smoky Mountains you can easily drive to Cape Hatteras Island in North Carolina, where lighthouses and long sandy beaches create a charming holiday setting for a weekend trip, for example. If you are lucky, you may even spot some of the island's freely roaming mustangs.

West coast – from deserts to glaciers

Roughly a dozen national parks are located within driving distance away from Los Angeles, even though the concept of driving distance covers more mileage in America than anywhere else...

The distance from Los Angeles to Yosemite is 500 km, to the Grand Canyon 800 km, and to Yellowstone, the home of the bison, 1,600 km. Other well-liked parks are Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and Redwood, with its giant California Redwood trees, to mention a few.

National parks really have a lot to offer visitors. You can visit both desert and glacier destinations on the same continent, and stop to take a selfie on the edge of a canyon or inside a giant tree on the way.

Navigating and locating places for sleeping and eating is easy using Google Maps, for instance. Larger supermarkets sell prepaid SIM cards, convenient for even shorter trips to the country.

Read more about national parks on the National Park Service website.

Find flights to the US.