12 Spots to See Gorgeous Fall Colors in Oregon

Posted by
Holly Riddle
August 17, 2022
Updated September 29, 2022

fall colors in oregon
Photo: Shutterstock

From wine country to the bustle of Portland to the Pacific shoreline, Oregon offers gorgeous fall scenery that’ll make your jaw drop.

During the fall months, Oregon comes alive with a burst of bright yellow and red hues.

Cooler temperatures and sunny days make for prime exploring weather, so you can really get out in nature and appreciate the foliage. But in a state as large as this, where do you start exploring? 

Here are our 12 of the best places to see Oregon’s fall foliage for premium leaf-peepin’.

1. Mt. Hood Scenic Loop

Hood River and Mount Hood
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: Two scenic drives in one

  • Nearest Town: Mount Hood 
  • Peak Foliage: Late October to Mid-November 

The Mt. Hood Scenic Loop is a scenic drive that’ll take up an entire afternoon — or longer, if you want it to — at just under 150 miles and a round-trip drive time of just under three and a half hours.

The loop takes you through the Historic Columbia River Highway Waterfall Corridor as well, so you get two scenic drives with one journey. There are tons of places to stop off and enjoy the views, but do note that this drive can get pretty popular and crowded on the weekends.

You can avoid the crowds by seeing the sites during the week or when the weather may be a little rainier or misty (which, really, just adds to the fall aesthetic!).

Related read: 9 Best Cabin Rentals at Mount Hood, Oregon

2. Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: Fall foliage plus waterfalls  

  • Nearest Town: Salem  
  • Peak Foliage: Mid-October

See why this is one of the most popular state parks in Oregon. Situated conveniently near Salem, Silver Falls State Park is most well known for its waterfalls. The Trail of Ten Falls is a must for any hiker — or just anyone who wants to take in some great scenery.

The trail is just over seven miles long, but isn’t terribly difficult, with an elevation gain of only 800 feet. You can shorten the journey by using the connected trails if needed, but why cut the experience short? You’ll see beautiful, dense forests, plummeting waterfalls and more. 

Related read: 13 Best Hikes Near Salem, Oregon

3. Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: Urban leaf peeping in a serene sanctuary  

  • Nearest Town: Portland 
  • Peak Foliage: October 

If you want to see some fall foliage during your Oregon trip, but you don’t really want to make a lengthy journey outside the city — or if the outdoorsy stuff just isn’t your preference — you can still find pristine fall foliage in many spots around Portland.

One place to get in some urban leaf peeping is at the Portland Japanese Garden. The garden is beautiful any time of year and isn’t really one garden, but a collection of several, including a natural garden, flat garden, tea garden, pond garden and more.

Soak in the scenery, stop by the Mt. Hood overlook and don’t miss the Japanese Arts Learning Center.

Related read: The Ultimate Portland to Seattle Road Trip Itinerary

4. Hoyt Arboretum

Hoyt Arboretum oregon fall colors
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: More than 2,000 tree species on nearly 200 acres 

  • Nearest Town: Portland 
  • Peak Foliage: October

Another popular urban leaf-peeping destination in Portland, Hoyt Arboretum is a bit more woodsy than the Japanese Garden, with its more than 2,000 species of trees and shrubs.

In October, you’ll be able to take in the arboretum’s bright yellow and orange citrus trees, vibrant maple collection and fall-flowering Franklin trees. The arboretum covers nearly 200 acres and features 12 miles of hiking trails, all easily accessible from downtown Portland.

Related read: Fall Foliage 101: Why Do Leaves Change Colors in the Fall?

5. Forest Park 

Forest Park portland oregon
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: A canopy of maples in an expansive park 

  • Nearest Town: Portland  
  • Peak Foliage: October 

For even more woodsy goodness within a quick drive from Portland, try Forest Park. This expansive outdoor destination measures in at a whopping 5,200 acres, with more than 80 miles of hiking trails.

One of the most popular trails for leaf peeping is the Maple Trail Loop, which is just under eight miles, but only takes about three hours to complete, since it’s a relatively easy hike. About 50% of the trees in the park are big leaf maples, which are known for their yellow hue in the fall months. Catch them before the season ends!

Related read: 14 Beautifully Secluded Cabin Rentals in Oregon

6. Steens Mountain

Steens Mountain oregon
Photo: Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington, Flickr

Why you should go: Mountain landscapes with early fall foliage 

  • Nearest Town: Princeton 
  • Peak Foliage: Mid-September to Early October   

In Southeast Oregon, Steens Mountain offers aspens aplenty. These slender trees, with their white bark and bright yellow leaves, are synonymous with Western autumns, so if you’ve come looking for aspens on your West Coast leaf peeping trip, this is where you’ll want to go.

The foliage peaks a little earlier here than it might elsewhere in Oregon and, if you visit in October, you may even be lucky enough to catch the fall foliage mixed in with some early-season snow. Recreation opportunities range from hiking and hunting to camping and horseback riding, mountain biking to fishing.

However, for the easiest views, travel the Steens Loop Tour, a 59-mile scenic driving route that takes between three and five hours and includes the highest road in Oregon. 

7. Lithia Park 

Lithia Park ashland oregon
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: A fan favorite fall foliage spot in a charming town 

  • Nearest Town: Ashland 
  • Peak Foliage: Mid to Late October 

Located in Ashland, Lithia Park is consistently ranked one of the best places to see fall foliage in all of southern Oregon.

While you might not be familiar with Ashland, stopping in to see the colors at the downtown’s park, which takes over nearly 100 acres, will introduce you not only to a beautiful array of fall colors, but also a charming town that’s well worth broader explorations.

The park is home to dozens of tree species, as well as many walking trails, including paved trails. The park also hosts free guided walks three days a week in the fall, starting at 10 a.m. 

Related read: 10 Best Scenic Drives in Oregon

8. The Oregon Garden 

Oregon Garden silverton
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: Easily accessible nature for everyone in the family

  • Nearest Town: Silverton 
  • Peak Foliage: Mid-October 

The Oregon Garden offers 80 acres of pet-friendly botanical displays, with four miles of ADA paths and a full calendar of family-friendly events. There’s a range of gardens to explore, from the tropical house to wetlands, a medicinal garden to a children’s garden.

The garden offers tram tours, too, if you’d rather see the landscape on wheels than on foot. The best, however, part of The Oregon Garden during the fall, though, is its Bosque Garden, which is filled with Pacific sunset maples and brick ponds, creating a stunning, seemingly endless forest of bright red leaves. 

9. The McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway 

McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: A mix of contrasting landscapes, from volcanic geology to ancient forests 

  • Nearest Town: Sisters 
  • Peak Foliage: Mid-October  

The McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway will present you with a variety of landscapes, in case you don’t like to spend a scenic drive or hike just looking at the same ol’ things the entire time.

During this three to five-hour drive, you’ll see the largest lava flow in the Northwest, red and yellow maples, aspen stands, pines and firs, snowy volcanic peaks and more. The 82-mile loop offers lots of overlooks, fishing holes, trails and more. 

Related read: 9 Best Small Towns in Oregon for a PNW Escape

10. Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway 

Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: A mix of history and fall scenery 

  • Nearest town: Baker City
  • Peak Foliage: Early to Mid-October 

Mix a bit of history with your leaf peeping when you take this scenic byway in northeastern Oregon. The Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway starts in Baker City, a historic hub that saw great progress during Oregon’s gold rush.

You’ll see plenty of evidence of the region’s history in gold mining as you take to the byway, which takes between three and five hours to drive, at just over a hundred miles. Beyond the mountain and valley views, you’ll also find some historic sites worth a stop, such as the Baker Heritage Museum, Ah Hee Diggings Interpretive Site and Eastern Oregon Museum. 

11. Dorris Ranch

Dorris Ranch oregon
Photo: Sandy Brown JensenFollow, Flickr

Why you should go: Who doesn’t want to visit an orchard in the fall? 

  • Nearest Town: Springfield  
  • Peak Foliage: Mid-October 

Dorris Ranch is not your ordinary ranch. The historic site and living history farm is also a working orchard and a public park.

Stop in to view the orchards, but then make sure to also take the four-mile Middle Fork Path, which connects the ranch’s lands with Clearwater Park, so that you can view as much foliage as possible. You can make an entire day out of visiting this family-friendly spot. 

12. Shores Acres State Park

Shores Acres State Park
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: Fall flowers by the ocean  

  • Nearest Town: Coos Bay
  • Peak Foliage: Mid-October

Lastly, of course, you can’t visit Oregon at any time of year without also paying a visit to the state’s impressive coastline. At Shores Acres State Park, you can view a mix of ocean waters and craggy cliffs, carefully landscaped gardens and beautiful foliage.

In the fall months, dahlias are abloom in the landscaped gardens. Elsewhere, the ocean beats against high, sandstone cliffs. The park is nearly 800 acres.

Related read: 12 Oregon Coast Cabin Rentals for a Relaxing Trip to the Seaside

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