It's the season to harvest new travel plans. Here are five ideas for your next Fall getaway.
1. Discover Farm Fresh.
Fall is an ideal time to celebrate our nation's bounty by visiting farmer's markets, joining in a barn dance or visiting a county fair. Take a farm tour and learn how our food moves from plow to porch. Visit a community garden and become inspired to join in or plan for your own. For a more immersive experience, spend the night or a weekend on a family farm. Leave the electronics and everyday expectations behind and get ready to pitch in for the morning chores. At farms across the country, kids can collect eggs, pet pigs, corral critters tend to a garden brimming with fresh produce or hang out in the shade of fruit trees.
2. Take a Scenic Drive, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO.
During a 48-mile, two to three-hour drive via Trail Ridge Road, observe wildlife, crystalline lakes, and jagged peaks. With proximity to the Continental Divide, it's an ideal time to explain to the kids how the "roof of the continent" spills moisture to the east and the west. This expansive, peak-filled National Park is also well known for its elk population. The Fall rut or mating season is an interesting time to witness animal behaviors as they bugle and battle for supremacy. Look for between 600 and 800 elk grazing at lower elevations during the Fall and Winter months. Be on the lookout for bighorn sheep and the occasional moose browsing the willow thickets.
Contact: www.VisitGrandCounty.com; www.VisitEstesPark.com.
3. Follow the Flock.
Head south to Southern Arizona, considered one of the best spots for birding in the country. Declare the historic and family-friendly Tubac Golf Resort & Spa your basecamp and let the exploration begin. When not checking off hummingbird and elegant trogon sightings on your list, enjoy a round of golf, a stroll through the local art community or time at the spa. Hike from the resort, situated on the 500-acre Otero Ranch in the Santa Cruz River Valley and appreciate views of the Tumacacori and Santa Rita peaks in the distance.
Contact: www.TubacGolfResort.com; www.VisitArizona.com.
4. As the Leaves Turn and the Elk Bugle.
This is your chance to enjoy Grand Teton National Park and the extraordinary beauty of this valley before it becomes a winter wonderland and minus the crowds that collect in summer. Take a family-friendly hike along the Snake River or a explore aside a string of scenic lakes. Check on the resident herd at the National Elk Refuge (sleigh rides are possible once the snow falls). Visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art and the local children's museum for indoor fun.
Contact: www.VisitWyoming.com; www.jacksonhole.com; www.FourSeasons.com/JacksonHole
5. Discover the Night Sky
Death Valley National Park's 3.4-million-acre expanse and the region's clean, dry air combine to provide an ideal vantage point for observing shooting stars, meteor showers, the Milky Way and constellations galore. The conditions have earned the park Gold-Tier Dark Sky status. The area shares a strong commitment to avoid light pollution and keep the night sky visible. Stay at the Oasis at Death Valley and join the Las Vegas Astronomical Society for Star Parties on selected evenings or enjoy the gem-studded sky on your own.
Contact: www.OasisatDeathValley.com; nps.gov/deva
Lynn O'Rourke Hayes (www.LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com.