6 Best National Parks to Visit in November

Fall foliage and a rustic cottage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and a pink rectangle with the words

Autumn, and late autumn in particular, is a wonderful time to visit our national parks. Even the most popular parks aren't as crowded, it's both just barely warm and cool enough to actually enjoy being outside, and there's still some lingering foliage and wildlife to see.

We absolutely love exploring America's parks, but it can be difficult deciding which ones to visit, when and That's exactly why we put together this guide on the best national parks to visit in November!

A hand holding a brown Wanderchain in front of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the best national parks to visit in November

6 National Parks to Visit in November

Perhaps you're hoping to escape the cold in a perpetually warm, sunny destination.  Or maybe you want a classic late fall experience with a distinct chill in the air and near-bare trees.

Either way, learning about which national parks to visit in November can give you that experience.

A palm tree in front of a lighthouse at Biscayne National Park, one of the best national parks to visit in November

Biscayne, Florida

Southern Florida's Biscayne National Park is the perfect place to go snorkeling, diving, and generally exploring the aquatic wonders of this region. In fact, the park has an underwater trail where divers can see coral reefs at depths of up to 100 feet!

Visitation picks up quite a bit in the winter time and of course, summer is a popular time in Florida. Biscayne is one of the best national parks to visit in November because it lets you avoid these peak seasons while still enjoying many of the park's same benefits.

It also lets you avoid hurricane season, which officially runs from spring through early fall. Along the same lines, November is also one of the least rainy months of the year for this park. November is also one of the best times to enjoy camping and swimming in Biscayne National Park.  

A building and cliffs in Capitol Reef National Park, one of the best national parks to visit in November

Capitol Reef, Utah

Capitol Reef is by far one of our most underrated national parks and the least-known among Utah's Mighty 5. It's one of the best national parks to visit in November, when there's an excellent chance you'll enjoy it largely to yourself and have great weather. 

It's spectacularly beautiful, showcasing some of Mother Nature's most fascinating and unique work. The Waterpocket Fold, a scar-like warp in the Earth's crust that's 65 million years old, bears witness to the passage of time.

Natural arches and hidden slot canyons abound at Capitol Reef, with views that rival those in some of Utah's more popular parks. The main event here is hiking, but don't miss the tiny historic village and schoolhouse in Fruita. In November, nothing really blooms in the orchard, but you may catch the end of the apple harvest. 

Tunnel View in Yosemite, one of the best national parks to visit in November

Yosemite, California

If you've been wanting to explore California's Yosemite (whether for the first time or the seventh!) but are dreading the crowds that come with peak season, it's one of the best national parks to visit in November.

While it begins to get very cold at this time of year and there may be some snow already, several trails and viewpoints are still open for exploration. Glacier Point Road often closes for the winter at some point in November, so if your hiking plans include anything in that section of the park, time your visit for early in the month. 

Note: Glacier Point Road is closed for ALL of 2022 and part of 2023 as it's under construction.

November is one of the best times of year for hiking in Yosemite, since fall foliage adds an extra layer of beauty against the already-stunning granite rock formations. Be sure to check out the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir; this area tends to be less crowded than other parts of Yosemite Valley!

A panoramic view of the Grand Canyon, one of the best national parks to visit in November

Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the U.S. for good reason — but most of those visitors don't necessarily come in November. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, this massive expanse of steep canyons, rugged cliffs, and colorful rock formations stretches for miles across northern Arizona.

The South Rim, the park's most popular entrance, is typically open year-round, but the North Rim is generally closed for the winter by November. Even at the more mild South Rim, it can get very cold with temperatures dipping below freezing at night.

Luckily, there’s plenty to do here during colder months! Some would even say there's more to do, since you aren't battling the brutal Arizona heat. You can do plenty of hiking, of course, and enjoy Desert View Scenic Drive at a leisurely pace. This paved road hugs the canyon rim and offers amazing views from multiple pullouts. 

We also highly recommend catching a ranger talk at the Yavapai Observation Station near Grand Canyon Village, to learn about the park's fascinating geology. And when you need to warm up? Head to the El Tovar Dining Room for dinner or drinks overlooking Bright Angel Point — it's one of our favorite spots in all of Arizona!

A waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the best national parks to visit in November

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains is the number-one most-visited national park in the U.S., with over 11 million people visiting every year. November is one of the best times to visit, a "calm before the storm" because there's a huge October rush of people wanting to catch fall foliage, and then things pick up again closer to Christmas.

If you love waterfalls, this park is definitely worth checking out during the fall season; they're somehow even more scenic against the backdrop of stunningly vibrant autumnal foliage! Need more proof? The photo above was taken the second week of November!

What makes fall foliage so impressive and long-lasting in GSMNP is the fact that there are over 100 tree species here—more than any other place in North America! Red maples, sugar maples, and sweet gums especially all really show off in the fall. 

Sand dunes and mountains in Death Valley, one of the best national parks to visit in November

Death Valley, California

Death Valley is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere and one of the hottest places on Earth. It's also known as one of the world's most hostile, barren, and rugged environments, but don't let that scare you away. Just plan your visit for Noember! 

The park gets its name from frequent killer 120-degree-plus temperatures during summers. Since this time of year has significantly cooler weather than July or August, there are many advantages to visiting at this time. For example:

  • Most formal programs such as ranger-led hikes don't even start until October anyway!

  • The park's high elevation points will be pleasantly cool (and even chilly!), while lower ones are still typically plenty warm during the day. 

Which of these national parks have you been to? Have you ever visited any in November? Connect with us on social media and let us know!

And be sure to treat yourself (or your adventure buddies!) to National Park Tokens from The Wander Club to commemorate your travels. Customizable, stylish, and portable, they're the best kind of travel souvenir!

 

 

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