A national park is a great summer vacation option. Problem is, parks can be crowded in high season. But in low season, you might meet bad weather and not have the same experience. This infographic tells you the best time to visit 23 national parks, factoring in crowds, weather, and also price.
Based on author picks from their National Parks Guides, Lonely Planet gauged the best months to visit National Parks across the U.S. and Canada. They found that, overall, October was the best month to visit.
Why October? It’s a combination of several factors that add up to make the so-called ‘shoulder season’ – the sweet spot between high and low season – the favorite time to be on the road and exploring the great outdoors for many savvy travelers:
Fewer crowds: kids are back in school after the summer break and ski season hasn’t started.
Weather: Temperatures in desert regions have dropped to reasonable levels and are not fully into the cold season in most montane regions. October is prime time for Indian summer, so don’t be surprised if you luck into some unseasonably warm temperatures.
Cost: Low-season rates for lodgings have kicked in for many areas to attract more travelers as the crowds thin.
Foliage and wildlife: It’s not just the maples of New England putting on a show, trees are turning colors across the continent. Aspens, cottonwoods, oaks, willows, dogwoods and more are all putting on their autumn best. October is also rutting season for many of the large mammals of North America (elk, moose, antelope, bison), so it’s a great time to see wildlife and the sometimes dramatic mating behavior.
But of course, that’s just overall. If you want to know the best time to visit a specific park, see if it’s in the graphic below. Red represents high season, white is low season, and blue is Lonely Planet’s pick of best time to go.
When is the best time to visit US and Canada’s National Parks? | Lonely Planet