Okay, don’t get us wrong, we love midwestern summers and all the activities they bring, but there is just something about fall in the midwest. Fall is one of the best times to start exploring some of the many National Parks the Midwest has to offer. Fall colors, mild weather, and amazing views are only a few of the things you’ll have while you explore these five national parks.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located in Ohio between Akron and Cleveland, offers over 125 miles of trails for both biking, and hiking. Cuyahoga Valley also has quite a few beautiful waterfalls. One of the most famous and easily accessible falls is Brandywine Falls, which you can get to via a wooden boardwalk. One of the most unique features of this park is the railroad that runs through it and offers scenic rides, this would be a great way to view some of the amazing midwest fall colors! Cuyahoga Valley National Park is perfect for a day exploring waterfalls and hiking through a forest full of changing colors.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in Michigan along the shores of Lake Michigan. This park is the perfect place for a fall color tour. One of the most famous attractions inside the park is the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, an almost 7.5-mile loop on a single-lane road that winds through the forest. As you make your way along the drive you will find spots to pull off and find stunning views of Lake Michigan, a covered bridge, and a beautiful forest. Sleeping Bear also has great hiking trails, including the Empire Bluff hike which leads you through a forest of fall colors to a scenic overlook where you’ll see the vastness of Lake Michigan. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is the perfect spot to catch the changing fall leaves, on foot or by car.
Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park is located in Northern Minnesota. Voyageurs has miles and miles of hiking trails that lead visitors through forests of changing colors and where you’ll catch a glimpse of Rainy Lake. This park also features a paved bike trail where you can ride, walk, and jog through the forest. You can also kayak or canoe on the Rainy River, as well. With over 218,000 acres of park to explore, this is the perfect place for a fall adventure. Whether you want to bike on a paved path or kayak on a beautiful river, Voyageurs National Park has everything you could want.
Indiana Dunes National Park
Indiana Dunes National Park is located in Northwestern Indiana. This park features 15 miles of gorgeous Lake Michigan shores and 50 miles of trails through dunes, wetlands, forests, and rivers. One of the most popular activities is hiking the dunes; these giant dunes offer incredible views of the lakeshore and a great workout, as well. Two of the most popular trails at the park for catching fall colors are the Bailly-Chellberg loop and the Dune Succession Trail. The first is a 1.5-mile trail through ravines and the changing forests. The second is a bit more intense but the payoff, views of the fall colors and Lake Michigan, is sure to not disappoint. Indiana Dunes National Park is the perfect spot for a fall beach adventure, Lake Michigan and fall color included.
Isle Royale National Park
Now, hear us out, this one takes a little work to get to but once you get there, it’s completely worth it. Isle Royale is a 45-mile-long island located in the middle of Lake Superior and only is only accessible by boat or seaplane. When you arrive on the island, you’ll be met with 165 miles of trails and 36 campgrounds. Visitors can hike, camp, kayak, canoe, and fish. If you’re lucky, you might even see a moose as they’re known to wander the island. Isle Royale is the perfect spot if you’re looking for a secluded and rugged fall adventure.
Fall is one of the best times to explore the Midwest. There’s so much to see, from dunes along the lakeshore to forests full of changing colors, these Midwest National Parks have it all. Stay cozy on your National Park adventures in Lakes and Grapes.
About the author: Hannah, a Michigander who grew up in the Thumb, loves to explore everything from the Great Lakes beaches, to the Metro-Detroit coffee shops. While currently working towards her Master’s degree in Marketing from Walsh College, Hannah is a social media & marketing intern at Lakes and Grapes this fall. When not working on school or L&G, you’ll find Hannah creating Spotify playlists, taking pictures, or making a cheeseboard.