The National Park Foundation has announced the 2011 "Great National Parks for Fall Foliage" list. Creating a weekend vacation close to one of these sites can be a relaxing fall retreat.
This year's list, and the optimal times for foliage viewing, includes:
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Cal.: Peak colors expected in the middle to end of October. On Oct. 18, a hiking event to Whiskeytown Falls offer a perfect way to view the foliage during the peak season.
Curecanti National Recreational Area, Colo.: Peak colors begin in late September and run through the end of October.
Natchez Trace Parkway, Miss.: In middle to late October, the maple, hickory, oak and other hardwood trees begin to change colors.
Glacier National Park, Mont.: The bright yellow and gold colors on the aspen and larch trees run through mid-October covering the trails around the park, but particularly along Summit Trail. For more information on the best trails to see colors or view photos of the fall colors, visit Glacier's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/glaciernationalpark.
Flight 93 National Memorial, Pa.: The trees across the Flight 93 National Memorial begin to turn around mid-October. Check out honorflight93.org/webcam today to find instant inspiration for a trip to the site or to take a virtual fall foliage tour.
Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tenn.: The Great Smokey Mountains boast over 130 different tree species, many of which produce breathtaking Autumnal colors. Peak foliage viewing depends greatly on the various levels of elevation found within the park, but overall, the Smokies' foliage shows run from late September through October.
Zion National Park, Utah: Peak foliage colors appear at the end of October and into the first few days of November.
Shenandoah National Park, Va.: Peak colors in the upper elevations begin early to mid-October with lower elevations peaking at the end of October into November.
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Vt.: Rich with sugar maples and 400-year-old hemlocks, this site boasts outstanding fall foliage each year. This year's prime viewing is expected from mid-October through early November.
Apostles Islands National Lakeshore, Wisc.: Peak foliage viewing various depending on inland or coastal location, however the foliage show runs from late September through October. Additionally, many bird species are migrating through the park right now, so foliage seekers get an extra show from Mother Nature.