Throughout most of Oregon fall colors are at their peak making this a great weekend to explore a new road or trail. Did you know that not all conifers are evergreen? Tamaracks, a deciduous conifer, turn from green to gold in the late fall. Catch these unique trees in their glorious gold this week along the Metolius River in Central Oregon or in the Blue Mountains of Northeastern Oregon.
Willamette Valley, 800.547.5445 for visitor information
The color change is at its peak in the Willamette Valley. Through most of the valley leaves are still colorful, but are starting to fall from the recent rains. The colors range from bright red to rest and the contrast with the evergreen trees is amazing. From Salem travel Hwy 22 east or west for great leaves. The McKenzie River corridor along Hwy 126 east of Springfield is a highlight this week.
Eastern Oregon, 800-332-1843 for visitor information
The color change is at its peak in most of Eastern Oregon. Lots of “BIG” color shows are appearing around Northeastern Oregon. On the mountains, the Tamarack (Western Larch) have turned, giving the whole face of the Blue Mountains a golden hue. Tamaracks look like conifers, but they shed their needles in the fall after turning to golden like an aspen. The larches, aspens, cottonwoods and willows are bright yellows with reds and oranges in the streamside hawthornes, dogwoods, and huckleberries. The Hells Canyon and Elkhorn Scenic Byways as well as the Grande Ronde Route are still open for vehicle travel with only some light dustings of snow in the shady spots. This Saturday, ride the Eagle Cap Excursion Train into roadless sections of the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers, where the fall foliage and migrating birds and wildlife particularly spectacular.
Greater Portland, 800.962.3700 for visitor information
The color change is at its peak in the Greater Portland area. In a word, the colors are gorgeous! The West Hills of Portland are a brilliant golden yellow, and the neighborhoods and roadways throughout the region are absolutely bursting with color. All of the parks are spectacular this week! In the city, stroll under the colorful falling leaves around the lake at Laurelhurst Park. If you feel like heading a bit into the country, the vineyards at Elk Cove and David Hill are beautiful with autumn color.
Southern Oregon, 800-448-4856 for visitor information
The color change is at its peak in parts of Southern Oregon. The views driving towards Diamond Lake on the North Umpqua Highway 138 are spectacular. The color change in the Klamath basin is nearing peak with a blend of yellows, greens and amber. The road from Fort Klamath to Crater Lake National Park offers stunning viewing spots. The west rim drive and both entrances to Crater Lake are still open.
Central Oregon, 800-800-8334 for visitor information
Fall foliage is at peak color change in Central Oregon with fuchsia and crimson reds, burnt oranges and rusts, dark purples and warm hues of gold throughout the region – complimented by the steady forest green of evergreens. Check out the gold tamaracks, a deciduous conifer, along the Metolius River near Camp Sherman. The aspen at Black Butte Ranch Resort are bursting with golden color. From Bend, hike or bike through orange and yellow trees along the Deschutes River Trail.
Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge, 888-622-4822 for visitor information
The color change is approaching peak for the lower Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge region. The color change in the Columbia River Gorge is behind the Greater Portland and Mt Hood areas but the colors at Multnomah Falls are approaching peak color change and showing lots of yellow. The color change is at peak or just past on Mt. Hood. View fall colors and, weather permitting, stunning views of Mt. Hood while hiking to Mirror Lake (easy 3 miles) or on the more challenging hike to North Burnt Lake. Saturday is forecasted as the best day for mountain views. If the mountain is clouded over, hike along the Salmon River through old growth forest and red vine maples.
Oregon Coast, 888.628.2101 for visitor information
The color change is at its peak in the Coast Range. See lots of yellow and flashes of red along the coastal rivers and roads. For a great display of red leaves drive Hwy 30 ten miles east of Astoria to the Fern Hill area. This is a great week to take in the yellows and golds along the Siuslaw River and Lake Creek while enjoying a picturesque drive along Hwy 36 from Junction City to Mapleton.