If you’re looking forward to the beautiful fall weather and are anticipating all of the fun activities you’ll get to enjoy throughout the crisp autumn months, there’s one you should definitely add to your list to-do: visiting a national park. Greenery, walking, and sunshine have all been proven to improve health and they’re all ever-present at the national parks. Not to mention that National Parks are home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the country, which you can take advantage of without putting a huge dent in your wallet. Entrance fees vary, but most are under $30. Plus, the National Park Service (NPS) offers 10 free entrance days, two of which are during the fall: September 28thand November 11th. With 58 parks in 27 states, there’s a good chance you won’t have to travel far to find one to explore!
When it comes to national parks, the West Coast of the United States likely comes to mind, as it’s home to the infamous Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon National Parks. But that’s not to say the East Coast is lacking beautiful and unique national parks of its own. Although they’re generally smaller their Western kin, there are certainly some stand-outs. Below we’ve identified the top 5 must-visit National Parks located in the Eastern U.S.
1. Acadia National Park – Bar Harbor, Maine
- Even though this may be one of the smaller national parks, it’s arguably one of the most picturesque and scenic parks in the entire country. The park boasts some of the best foliage on the east coast and is the ideal site for hiking, camping, and cycling. Some of the park’s major attractions include: Cadillac Mountain (which stands 1,530 feet high and is the highest mountain on the east coast), Isle au Haut, little Cranberry Island, Sieur de Monts Spring Nature Center, and the Wild Gardens of Acadia
2. Shenandoah National Park – Luray, Virginia
- Located only 75 miles outside of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park includes 200,000 acres of protected lands fostering deer, songbirds, the most perfect night sky. Here, you’ll get to bask in the cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, and quiet wooded hollows. From hiking, meandering along Skyline Drive, or picnicking with the family, Shenandoah National Park is the ideal destination for all sorts of outdoor recreation
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Between the border of North Carolina/Tennessee
- Along to having of some of the most epic hiking trails on the East coast, this is America’s most visited National Park. The mountains of “The Smokies” are among the oldest on earth and harbor one of the world’s best examples of deciduous forest, which are especially beautiful throughout the fall as the leaves change colors. The Great Smoky Mountains are also home to more than 100 species of native trees and have such rich diversity of wildlife (including black bears) that it has been designated an international biosphere reserve. The park itself is quite large, making up a total area of more than 500,000 acres of protected land, so it holds plenty of room for adventure!
4. Mammoth Cave National Park – Kentucky
- As a United Nations (UN) World Heritage Site and international biosphere reserve, Mammoth Caves is one of the most unique national parks in the USA. As it’s the longest known cave system in the world (with roughly 400 explored and mapped miles), this is the ultimate destination for adventurers who love thinking about and exploring caves. Other ways to immerse yourself in nature at Mammoth Cave National park include kayaking and camping
5. Assateague Island National Seashore – Maryland/Virginia
- Just 8 miles south of Ocean City, Maryland, Assateague Island National Seashore is a 37-mile long gem in the national and state park systems. Offering miles of beaches, bike paths, and acres of undeveloped natural habitats, Assateague is a beautiful place to spend a brisk fall day or weekend. You’ll get to experience all sorts of wildlife in their natural surroundings, including wild ponies, birds, whales, and fish.Along with the rich wildlife, park visitors can partake in a wide variety of activities including kayaking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping
Whether you’re an Eastern United States resident seeking adventure close to home or you’re just passing through the region, all of these national parks have something lovely and different to offer. Since spending time outdoors has a vast range of health benefits, from boosting your immune system to enhancing creativity, visiting a National Park this fall is a great way for you to reap the rewards of mother nature.
There are plenty of ways for you to squeeze in nature time into your busy daily schedule. Kiwi Energy wants you to live your best and more sustainable life, so be sure to stay tuned on our blog for tips on this and other green-living ideas.