5 Best National Parks to Visit in August to Avoid the Heat
August maybe later in the summer season, but that doesn't mean that the heat has given up! Still, summertime is prime vacation season, and everyone wants to get in their trips before the season ends. If you're burnt out from the beach or the cityscape, why not visit a national park? National parks have plenty of beautiful scenery and fun for all ages, whether you’re by yourself or with friends and family.
If you're worried about the heat, no problem. We've rounded up some gorgeous national parks you can visit in August without spending too much time sweating instead of sightseeing. Better yet, we also have suggestions on the places or activities to prioritize within the parks.
Zion National Park
Enjoy the vast beauty of being out west without dreading the beating sun when you head to Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah. Home to sandstone cliffs, narrow canyons, and intriguing wildlife, Zion was Utah's very first national park. It is still sought out today for its fascinating scenery and deep cultural significance.
You can hike through the canyons, trails, and even the river if you’re not afraid of getting a little wet! If you’re into rock climbing or want to go horseback riding, there’s something for everyone. There are some key spots to visit within Zion National Park if you decide to visit:
The Narrows are part of the Zion Canyon that’s the narrowest part of the canyon. You can see the Narrows from various walking trails and get a deeper look if you want to walk through the Virgin River. If you want to go further, you’ll need a Wilderness Permit on hand for more advanced hikes. Some of the trails, such as the Pa’rus Trail are also wheelchair accessible.
No matter if you’re hiking a short distance or the full length, remember to wear proper footwear or it’ll be an impossible journey!
Whether you want to float down the river or trek your way across the canyons, the Virgin River is the key to exploring a lot of what Zion has to offer. It is 169.3 miles, and around 20 of those can be explored by the average park visitor.
Warning: Flash floods often occur in late spring and summer, so double-check the weather conditions before getting into the water. Also, keep an eye out for any advisories regarding bacteria or other substances in the water.
Acadia National Park
When in doubt, head north for cooler temperatures! That’s assuming you already live somewhere south of Maine of course. But even locals will agree that Acadia is a big deal. As the 10th most visited national park, Acadia has nearly 160 miles of hiking trails and 30 miles of scenic motor roads. While you can’t go wrong with any part of the park, we have a couple of suggestions for where to head first.
Bass Harbor Head Light Station
Want to see a lighthouse so gorgeous that it was on the back of a quarter? Even if you don’t care about coin collecting, Bass Harbor Head Light Station is a popular destination in Acadia. Remember to plan since it is one of the busiest places in the park, and it may be challenging to find parking.
Breathtaking views of boats and Mount Desert Island are all available from your picnic table. If you love exploring rocky beaches and finding amazing ocean views in a secluded location, Schoodic Peninsula is a great place to stop. Enjoy that ocean breeze!
Great Falls National Park
Beautiful and historical, Great Falls National Park is only moments away from Washington, D.C., and reaches Virginia and Maryland. The park is named for the falls near the Visitor’s Center and is great for photo-op moments. And who doesn’t like watching the refreshing sight of a great waterfall? With this in mind, try out these two spots if you’re looking for ideas.
Potomac River and Mather Gorge
Many of the other parks on this list allow swimming. The Potomac is the exception. While the river is a lovely sight, it should remain strictly for sightseeing only. If you’re an experienced canoer or kayaker, you can try the river for yourself, but it is not for beginners.
George Washington Parkway
Near the park, you’ll find George Washington Parkway, a nature-based way of exploring D.C. and the surrounding areas. Plus, the Arlington Memorial Bridge is architecture at its finest, honoring the sacrifices made by many to keep our home intact.
Glacier National Park
Yellowstone isn’t the only famous park in Montana! Wetlands, mountains, vast forests, and glaciers are all located in Glacier National Park. It is a popular spot for research, but you can always stop by strictly for fun. With prehistoric origins and fossils to match, you can witness living history right in front of you.
You can’t go to Glacier National Park without seeing a glacier. You can, but why would you skip out on it? Choose from nine different glaciers to view from pre-selected points and witness them before they melt!
The possibilities are endless with Glacier’s guided tours. Choose your method of travel: boat, horseback, hike, bus, or raft. You can also take classes designed for summer days with survival and safety in the great outdoors in mind.
Pisgah National Forest
There are plenty of shady spots in this vast 500,000-acre forest located in North Carolina. But more importantly, the Appalachian Mountain setting is home to stunning waterfalls and beautiful trails. But just because the waterfalls are beautiful and you have an eye for adventure doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. Be mindful of your safety around the park’s waterfalls. Don’t forget to visit key parts of the park, and you’ll have a good time.
Appalachian Ranger District
The Appalachian Ranger District of Pisgah hosts plenty of wildlife and other scenic views. Take the Black Mountains, named for the coloring provided by the abundant fir and red spruce trees. Head down to the South Toe River for fishing, swimming, boating, and other water fun. Don’t forget to enjoy some interpretive trails and learn from Pisgah’s rangers at the Pisgah Ranger Station. While you’re there, get cool and enjoy some of the Visitor’s Center’s informational materials (but double-check to make sure it is open first).
Rocky Bluff Campground
If you want to go camping, reserve a spot at the Rocky Bluff Campground near Hot Springs. Observe trout in the streams and walk around the short nature trail. Snag your spot before it closes after Labor Day.
While these five parks aren’t the only option for your August adventures, they’re still fantastic choices. For high-quality choices in survival wear and other gear, Kitanica has what you need to enjoy a last-second summer outing to one or more of America’s national parks.
Wilderness Information and Permits | Zion National Park (US National Park Service)
Acadia National Park | (US National Park Service)
Schoodic Peninsula | Acadia National Park (US National Park Service)
George Washington Memorial Parkway (US National Park Service)
How to See a Glacier | Glacier National Park (US National Park Service)
Guided Tours | Glacier National Park (US National Park Service)
Appalachian Ranger District | Forest Service
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