There is something magical about walking in nature amongst the golden hues of Autumn. The mild climate of Oregon allows for a wide variety of trees to grow – including those you’d find in urban parks and on college campuses; in orchards of hazelnuts, peaches, apples, and walnuts; crops of pumpkins, blueberries, wheat, hops, and grapes; as well as the variety of native trees. All show off their fall colors at various times from the end of September to mid November. If you are looking to enjoy the many colors of autumn in Oregon, we’ve found 15 beautiful options:
Neal Lane Scenic Covered Bridge
One of the shortest covered bridges in Oregon, Neal Lane Bridge is located just off I-5 between Roseburg and Grants Pass in the town of Myrtle Creek. With its classic lines, arched entry and surrounded by golden foliage, it is a scenic spot indeed! Another beautiful covered bridge is the Goodpasture bridge just off Hwy 126 – the McKenzie Scenic Byway east of Eugene. There are 50 remaining covered bridges, many of which are located in the areas around Eugene, Cottage Grove, and Roseburg, making for a scenic road trip.
Rogue Umpqua Scenic Byway
Riding the rapids along the Rogue River may be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Rogue,” but don’t overlook the golden beauty of driving the scenic byway that meets and mingles with the Rogue River as you leave I-5 at Roseburg and head towards the Oregon coast.
The clear blue waters are even more stunning when paired with the golden foliage of Autumn at Clear Lake in the central Cascades near the McKenzie Pass. The lake feels encircled by Autumn with native shrubs turning gold and red, set against the backdrop of deep green evergreen trees.
The Santiam Pass
Follow Hwy 22 east of Salem and head up towards Mt. Jefferson. The highway takes you through several old logging towns and then around Detroit Lake. It follows the winding Santiam River which becomes lined with red vine maple. Further along you pass old lava flows now dotted with brightly colored vine maple. Once you reach the summit and continue on to the eastern slope of the Cascades, the landscape changes dramatically as you enter the high desert of Central Oregon.
The beautiful falls in Silver State Park near Silverton are unique in that you can walk behind the waterfall! There are multiple well-marked trails to follow, cliffs to explore, and plenty of photo opportunities.
The Mid-Willamette Valley Wine Country
Oregon’s wine country is beautiful any time of year, but really explodes in color when the grape vines are at their golden peak. Drive the wine loop and hit the roads through Yamhill county, passing through Dundee, Yamhill, Amity, and heading south towards Salem. Acres and acres of wineries will be showing off their fall colors in tidy rows of beauty.
Black Butte Ranch
Heading east on Hwy 22 towards Sisters and Bend, you find the aspens of Central Oregon turning golden. Just over the pass, turn into Black Butte Ranch and tour their grounds or stop for lunch and admire the view. Sitting at the base of Black Butte, a perfectly formed mounded mountain, the ranch is set on level grounds surrounding a peaceful lake with stunning views of the Three Sisters mountains. The ranch is combination of vacation rentals and homes, with amenities such as a pool, recreation room, bike paths, restaurants, and golf.
Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway
Take a drive on the historic highway and let the fallen leaves swirl around you as you follow the gently curving road that follows the Columbia River. The scenic highway was built between 1913-1922 when cars and people traveled at a much more leisurely pace, with many waysides for you to stop and take in the jaw-dropping views of the Columbia River Gorge and the many different waterfalls. You can drive the full 75 miles, or hop on and off different sections that run between Troutdale and The Dalles. The fluttering golden leaves are a bonus.
Bend’s Drake Park
Set right in the center of town, this Central Oregon park offers a beautiful place to stroll among the fall foliage. Downtown Bend offers great shopping, lots of restaurants, and amazing views. If you’re looking for a nice level place to walk and admire fall colors, this could be your ideal spot!
Ashland’s Lithia Park
In southern Oregon, Ashland’s Lithia Park is right in downtown and is a great place to stroll before you head out to the theater! Ashland is well known world-wide as a mecca for Shakespeare lovers – and especially those who enjoy outdoor theater. The town is a very walkable place, with many fun shops and restaurants.
Oregon State Capitol
The Oregon state capitol grounds in Salem are lined wth cherry trees that are a perfect foreground both in the Spring and in Autumn. Salem is called “Cherry City” for good reason as these iconic ornamental trees are everywhere.
Portland Japanese Garden
Set in the hillside overlooking downtown Portland, the Portland Japanese Gardens always puts on a spectacular show. Japanese Maples are reliable for fall color, and with the expertise of the gardeners at the Portland Japanese Garden, they are set to perfection against well-pruned evergreens, gently flowing water, and perfect photo opportunities around every bend.
Hood River Orchards
The Hood River area is famous for its fruit trees and Spring blossoms. Don’t forget that cherry trees and apple trees also turn golden in the fall and offer hillsides covered in golden hues. The “fruit loop” driving tour around the Hood River area is a perfect autumn drive.
Set on the southwest side of Mount Hood near Government Camp, this serene lake gives you double the Autumn colors with its mirror image calmness.
The Ruth Bascom Trail System
Connecting Eugene and Springfield in Lane County, the Ruth Bascom trail system is a series of paths that are perfect for getting in the autumn mood – popular with bicyclists, walkers, runners, and meanderers alike. The trails pass through the University of Oregon, Skinner Butte Park, Alton Baker Park, and Owen Rose Gardens, among others. With 12 miles of paved paths along the Willamette River to explore, you will be sure to enjoy a lovely afternoon.