Fall Foliage Trips in the Pacific Northwest

  • 01 of 05

    Where to Enjoy Fall Color in the Pacific Northwest

    Fall Color in Oregon's Hood River Valley
    ••• Fall Color in Oregon's Hood River Valley. Craig Tuttle / Getty Images

    Fiery red. Vibrant yellow. Deep, rich gold. The fall color in the Pacific Northwest states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington can be as spectacular as anywhere in the country. The display varies from year to year, the color and duration dependent on weather conditions. Dry Indian summers, which often occur in the Pacific Northwest, ​leading to breathtaking hillside panoramas. Unfortunately, the occasional wet early fall can cut the fall foliage season short.

    Northwest trees and shrubs that provide color include vine maples, larch, and aspen. The leaves change color as the days become shorter and cooler. The vine maple, which often lines Pacific Northwest hiking trails, turns to hues of yellow, orange, and red. The larch and aspen leaves contribute shades of yellow and gold to the fall palette. Because these trees are often intermingled with evergreens, the fall foliage display in the Pacific Northwest is rich and varied.

    Savoring the beauty of fall foliage can be the theme of a...MORE day trip or a weekend getaway. Here are some ideas and tips on where to enjoy fall color in this beautiful region.

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  • 02 of 05

    Fall Foliage Trips in Idaho

    Road through autumn colors, Idaho, USA
    ••• Danita Delimont/Getty Images

    Idaho Section of the International Selkirk Loop

    The International Selkirk Loop is an acclaimed 280-mile scenic byway that passes through British Columbia, Washington, and Idaho. The Idaho portion runs from Priest River, through Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry, to the border town of Porthill. To get an up-close view of fall foliage, stop along the way for a hike and some wildlife viewing at The Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge.

    Pend Oreille National Scenic Byway

    This scenic byway begins north of Sandpoint on Idaho Highway 200 and runs east to the Idaho–Montana border. Much of the route skirts the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, providing gorgeous water views to accompany the colorful fall display,

    Teton Scenic Byway

    Spectacular fall color, set against views of the Teton Mountain Range, makes for some truly memorable scenes. This sometimes-winding route runs along several state highways in Eastern Idaho, passing through the towns of Ashton, Tetonia, and Driggs.

    When to Enjoy Fall Foliage...MORE in Idaho

    Idaho's fall color is best from late September through October. Before leaving on your foliage-viewing trip, check these resources for the most up-to-date Idaho fall color status:

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  • 03 of 05

    Fall Foliage Trips in Montana

    Autumn Color near Emigrant Peak in Montana
    ••• Autumn Color near Emigrant Peak in Montana. Carol Polich Photo Workshops / Getty Images

    Beartooth Highway

    Considered one of America's best scenic drives, the Beartooth Highway passes through Northern Wyoming and Southern Montana. You can enjoy Montana's fall foliage as you pass through the Custer, Shoshone, and Gallatin national forests. Along the way, you'll see fabulous views of rugged mountains and alpine meadows.

    Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park

    The scenery along Glacier's Going-to-the-Sun Road is magnificent, no matter what the month. Add in the gold and yellow hues of late-season larch and aspen and you have yet another reason to visit one of the country's great scenic wonders.

    Seeley-Swan Scenic Drive

    Follow State Highway 83 through the Seeley-Swan Valley within Lolo National Forest. Along the way, you'll see bright yellow larch reflected in the route's many lakes.

    When to Enjoy Fall Foliage in Montana

    The appearance of fall color varies greatly depending on the elevation. Late September to mid-October is typically the best time...MORE for leaf peeping in Montana. Before heading out on your trip, use these resources to get the current Montana fall foliage status:

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  • 04 of 05

    Fall Foliage Trips in Oregon

    Colorful Vine Maples Near Oregon's Santiam Pass
    ••• Colorful Vine Maples Near Oregon's Santiam Pass. Alan Majchrowicz / Getty Images

    Columbia River Gorge

    The scenery along the Columbia River Gorge is breathtaking throughout the year; add in fall color, and you'll have memories that last a lifetime. On the Oregon side of the river, follow Interstate 84 or the sections of the old Historic Columbia River Highway that parallel the interstate. These links will help you plan the details of your tour through the Gorge.

    Fremont–Winema National Forests

    Located east of Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon, the Fremont–Winema National Forests offer miles of scenic drives. The color is most spectacular in the lower, wetter areas of the forest.

    When to Enjoy Fall Foliage in Oregon

    The Oregon fall color season begins in mid-September and peaks in mid-October. Color conditions can change on a daily basis. Before leaving, it's wise to know the current conditions. These resources provide the most up-to-date Oregon fall color status:

    • Oregon Fall Foliage...MORE Hotline: 800-547-5445
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  • 05 of 05

    Fall Foliage Trips in Washington State

    Backpacker in fall colors
    ••• Tegra Stone Nuess / Getty Images

    The Columbia River Gorge and the Cascade Mountains both provide great views of Pacific Northwest fall foliage.

    Columbia River Gorge

    You can view the Gorge's lively fall color from the Washington side of the Columbia River by driving along Highway 14. Stop for a picnic, hiking, or biking at Beacon Rock State Park. Cross the river to continue your fall color adventure along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

    Mount Baker–Snoqualmie National Forest

    This vast North Cascades forest is always a great place to enjoy a scenic drive, along with some outdoor recreation. Two major scenic byways run through Mt. Baker–Snoqualmie. Both are excellent choices for your fall foliage drive, with many places to get out and stretch your legs along the way.

    When to Enjoy Fall Foliage in Washington State

    Fall color in the state of Washington typically begins in mid-September and peaks in mid-October. Color conditions can change on a...MORE daily basis. Before leaving, use these resources to find out the current color status:

    • Washington Fall Foliage Hotline: 800-354-4595