Fall foliage can be enjoyed all over the Northwest as summer moves into winter. Trees of varying kinds like aspens, cottonwoods, maples, oak, and larch offer shades of red, orange and gold that are glorious when set against the deep shades of green provided by the seas of evergreen trees.
The warmth of the extended summer in the Northwest during the transition into fall weather allows the full spectrum of Autumn colors to break through. As the days shorten and the weather starts to cool, bundle up and take a drive into the gorgeous Oregon outdoors to enjoy fall foliage at its finest.
Oregon Wine Country
Fall is a wonderful time to visit wine country, combining fabulous wines of varying tastes with breathtaking scenery. Stick close to Dundee and Newberg via Highway 99W out of Portland. Take in smaller wineries like The Four Graces and Beau Frere, stopping to enjoy tours and wine tasting. Stop by one of the local markets for fresh produce, and don’t forget to sample a gourmet lunch or dinner to go with one of your favorite wine choices.
Historic Columbia River Highway
From mid to late October, the reds and golds of the fall foliage from the maples and cottonwoods offer a stunning backdrop for a drive along the historic highway. First built in 1922, the highway winds along the steep canyons and lush waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge.
Start from Portland, heading east on I-84 toward Troutdale and follow the signs to get on the Columbia River Highway. At Dodson, return to I-84 through the Hood River Valley via Oregon 35 and U.S. 26. Don’t forget to pack a picnic or stop by a local market or restaurant while taking in the beautiful scenery.
McKenzie River Highway
For a beautiful Autumn drive farther from Portland, head down to the McKenzie River Highway. Known as “Oregon’s crown jewel,” the McKenzie River offers different aspects of beautiful Oregon scenery depending on where you head out of Eugene.
Heading east from Eugene, take highway 126 to view the vibrant fall colors with a backdrop of the blue-green river, lava beds, and dark forested mountains. If you decide to travel far enough east, you’ll eventually cut through the Cascades via the McKenzie Pass into the town of Sisters.
Outdoor sports abound along the McKenzie River Highway, including fishing, hiking, biking and rafting. If relaxing is more on the agenda, consider stopping at one of the hot springs or resorts to enjoy Oregon’s Autumn beauty at a more relaxed pace.
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Kelly Wilson is an avid fan of Autumn and the brilliant colors of fall leaves, enjoying them mostly through scenic drives starting from her RV and RV parks in Salem, Oregon.