The Best Fall Getaway Spots for an Active Vacation
Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador
A hidden gem in Atlantic Canada, Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site offering a dramatic landscape of fjords, mountains, and coastal beauty. Hiking enthusiasts can explore a network of trails, including Gros Morne Mountain and the Green Gardens Trail, both of which showcase the vibrant autumn colors. Paddlers can kayak or boat in the stunning fjords, while cyclists can explore scenic coastal routes.
Don't miss: Discover the charming fishing village of Woody Point, take a boat tour to explore the Western Brook Pond fjord, and don't miss the Tablelands, an otherworldly landscape that resembles Mars.
Shawnee National Forest, Illinois
Nestled in the heart of the Midwest, Shawnee National Forest is a hidden oasis of outdoor adventure. The Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area offers mesmerizing rock formations surrounded by fall foliage, making it a popular spot for hiking and photography. Cyclists can explore the scenic Tunnel Hill State Trail, and paddlers can meander along the tranquil waters of the Cache River.
Don't miss: Discover the unique geological features at Rim Rock Recreation Area, visit the tranquil Bell Smith Springs for peaceful hiking, and explore the fascinating Giant City State Park.
Parc National du Mont-Mégantic, Quebec
For a tranquil escape in Quebec, Parc National du Mont-Mégantic is a lesser-known gem. The park boasts hiking trails like the Mont St.-Joseph Trail, offering panoramic views of the Eastern Townships in the fall. Cyclists can enjoy serene rides on the Route Verte network, and paddlers can explore the pristine waters of Lac Mégantic.
Don't miss: Visit the Astrolab, a renowned astronomy and space science center, and embrace the park's status as a Dark Sky Reserve for stargazing. Don't forget to explore the charming nearby villages like Notre-Dame-des-Bois.
Banff National Park, Alberta
In the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park offers a diverse range of activities against a backdrop of unparalleled beauty. As the leaves turn, the landscape transforms into a masterpiece of color. Runners can explore the network of trails, such as the Fenland Trail alongside the Bow River. Cyclists can rent mountain bikes and tackle the Tunnel Mountain Loop, while paddlers can glide across the azure waters of Lake Louise. For hiking enthusiasts, the Lake Agnes Tea House trail and the Larch Valley Trail, adorned with golden larch trees in the fall, are must-dos.
Don't miss: Johnston Canyon's mesmerizing hike through narrow canyons and past waterfalls, the panoramic views from the Banff Gondola on Sulphur Mountain, and the serene reflections at Vermilion Lakes.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Nestled along Maine's rugged coast, Acadia National Park offers a diverse range of outdoor activities amidst dramatic cliffs and crashing waves. Running enthusiasts can enjoy scenic coastal views along the Park Loop Road. Cyclists can explore the park's carriage roads, with the Jordan Pond Path as a picturesque route. Paddlers can navigate the pristine waters of Somes Sound or Echo Lake, surrounded by vibrant autumn foliage. Hikers can tackle the Jordan Pond Path or the thrilling Precipice Trail.
Don't miss: Discover the tranquility of Schoodic Peninsula for a quieter Acadia experience, explore the hidden gem of Little Hunters Beach, a pebble beach nestled among the rocks, and stroll through the charming village of Bar Harbor for local cuisine and unique shops.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
Known for its misty valleys and diverse wildlife, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a fall wonderland, offering a variety of outdoor activities. Runners can enjoy picturesque runs along the Oconaluftee River Trail or Cades Cove Loop Road. Cyclists can savor scenic road cycling along the Newfound Gap Road or take on challenging mountain biking trails like the Tsali Recreation Area. Paddlers can glide across the serene waters of Fontana Lake, surrounded by a sea of red and gold foliage. Hikers can explore trails like Alum Cave Trail, Clingmans Dome, or the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
Don't miss: Explore the tranquil Cataloochee Valley, home to historic buildings and a reintroduced elk population, visit Laurel Falls, one of the park's most popular waterfalls, and experience the charm of Gatlinburg, a nearby town offering local crafts and Appalachian cuisine.
Quebec Eastern Townships, Quebec
The Eastern Townships of Quebec, with its charming villages, picturesque lakes, and endless hiking trails, offer a perfect blend of adventure and natural wonder. Running along the shores of Pyramid Lake or hiking the Valley of Five Lakes trail is a great way to experience the fall scenery. Cyclists can explore the serene countryside, and paddlers can navigate the tranquil waters of Lake Memphremagog, surrounded by the vibrant hues of autumn.
Don't miss: Explore the historic town of Magog and its scenic waterfront, indulge in the region's renowned culinary scene, and discover the hidden gems of Mount Owl's Head and the beautiful Georgeville Cove.
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park, with its dramatic sandstone cliffs and narrow slot canyons, becomes even more magical in the fall. Running along the Virgin River or cycling through the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive provides stunning views of the red rock formations. Paddling enthusiasts can explore the park's nearby rivers, and hikers can take on iconic trails like the Narrows or Angels Landing.
Don't miss: Explore the lesser-known trails like the Observation Point Trail and the West Rim Trail for a more secluded experience, visit Kolob Canyons for incredible viewpoints, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Springdale, a charming gateway town to the park.
As autumn unveils its beauty across Canada and the United States, the opportunities for active outdoor vacations abound. Whether you're seeking the thrill of a challenging hike, a serene paddle on a tranquil lake, or a scenic run or bike ride, the fall season in North America promises an unforgettable experience for the active traveler. So, pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and embark on a journey through these breathtaking destinations to immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and crisp air of autumn's embrace.