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Where Can You Find the Best Fall Foliage In the National Park System? Here Are Ten Contenders


Taking fall photos at Acadia National Park can be like shooting fish in a barrel. Of course, it helps if you're a pro, like QT Luong, who gave us permission to use this shot.

Where do you go to digitally capture fall colors in the National Park System? The National Park Foundation released a list of the Top 10 parks for fall color the other day, and there are some old stalwarts, and some upstarts as well!

Here's the foundation's list of most photogenic parks, with estimated time frames for peak foliage colors:

* Acadia National Park -- Peak colors are expected now through October 15, so you better hurry!

* Cuyahoga Valley National Park -- The show should be on now and continue through month's end.

* Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area -- Fall's peak kaleidoscopic show should end here around October 17.

* Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- Here the peak is expected to arrive the last two weeks of October.

* Mississippi National River and Recreation Area -- Due to its location in Minnesota, not Mississippi, it should come as no surprise that the show should be mostly over by mid-month.

* New River Gorge National River -- This slice of West Virginia heaven is expected to enjoy its peak fall finery during the third week of October.

* Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore -- With winter's bite soon to be sweeping across Lake Michigan, the fall foliage peak should begin this weekend and run for 10 days.

* Saratoga National Historic Park -- As with Indiana Dunes, you better visit this site soon if you want to see the peak colors, as they're expected to be gone by weekend No. 3.

* Valley Forge National Historical Park -- Fall's peak daubs of color aren't expected to arrive before the last two weeks of October.

Now, if you do manage to visit one of these colorful destinations, and capture some great photos, you just might want to enter them into a contest the foundation and Olympus are co-sponsoring. The Share the Experience photo contest rewards the grand-prize winner not only with an Olympus E-3 Digital Camera, but the winning photo also will be featured on the 2010 America the Beautiful Federal Recreation Lands Pass.

The fine print: Amateur photographers are invited to submit up to three photos to the Share the Experience contest through December 31, 2009. In addition, at the end of the submission period the public will be invited to vote for their favorite photo. Enter by visiting or pick up a brochure and entry form while visiting a Federal Recreation Land this year. Great prizes include: Olympus digital cameras, trips to a federal recreation area, Federal Recreation Lands Passes and more! Sponsored by Olympus and the National Park Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, the Share the Experience Photo Contest showcases the more than 500 million acres of Federal Lands and draws entries from all across the United States.


I *hope* this turns out to be the case for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My new wife and I will be heading there after our wedding next weekend. :-D

We'll put in a request for some great weather, Sparky. Congrats on the nuptials!

I'd also throw a nod in to Zion National Park, particularly the high country of the Kolob Terrace. The black and red and pink rocks are complimented by golden and red trees.

That's a good list, but it's limited to Eastern Parks. True, most of the Western Parks do not have maples (and therefore brillant reds that are the staple of great fall foliage) but there are exceptions:
Zion fall foliage and Guadalupe Mountains fall foliage both peak in November, so if you're late for the Eastern Parks, here is your chance this year.


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