In the Thick of It – Oregon Colors


Cottage Grove’s Chambers Covered Bridge in Fall colors

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
Welcome to mid-October where colorful leaves cling to trees and coat the ground. From the Cascades to the Coast, fall foliage is making it known that this is it’s time to shine. Enjoy a pleasant drive down Highway 126 in either direction. Toward the ocean, roadsides are flanked with golden maples, some resembling burnt kernels of popcorn due to this year’s not-so-lifecycle-esque changing. The effects of drought and temperature extremes are evident in the ways that colors have evolved on their branches, but the picture that remains sure is pretty. If you venture further north on the 101, keep an eye out for elaborate Halloween décor at the crests of residential driveways! Things are getting quite spooky in those sleepy, coastal homes.

Toward the mountains aim to connect with Highway 242, a throughway that closes each winter season. Along this route, we recommend a day trip to Proxy Falls, a visual treat that will soon be inaccessible so take advantage of this lovely adventure while you still can.

Pinard Falls shows some yellow from Instagrammer whitneyt1

Pinard Falls (near Cottage Grove) shows some yellow from Instagrammer whitneyt1

Neighborhoods in Eugene and Springfield are quite breathtaking with avenues of pink, purple, yellow, orange and green all in a line besides curbs and lawns. Houses in the Jefferson Westside area of Eugene, the outskirts of the Whitaker Neighborhood, are especially decorated with the season’s natural beauty. Step outside and explore your neighborhood!

In Cottage Grove, experience the charms of autumn and head to the 12th Annual Ancient Forest Hoedown, happening at Avalon Stables and presented by Cascadia Forest Defenders and Southern Oregon Rising Tide.
This event is fun for the whole family, with contra and square dance music from Slippery Slope String Band and the Dirty Dandelions. Participate in a sack race or the water balloon toss. Enjoy circus acts, fire spinning and so much more. Dress in costume and come hungry, as dinner, drinks and desserts are included with the entry fee.

Oregon Coast
As you travel to the Central Oregon Coast, prepare yourself for the beautiful autumn palette of colors that are ablaze along the highways. Big leaf and vine maples are the most vibrant, displaying furies of golden brown and gradients of salmon, respectively. Birch, oak and various native deciduous trees are beginning to change amid the red alder and Sitka spruce. With rain in the forecast, leaf hunters in this area suggest taking a drive along Highway 22 from Grand Ronde into the town of Hebo where back country roads are in good conditions. The Old Coast Scenic Highway, otherwise known as Slab Creek Road, is another great bet for fall color.

In Yachats, mycologists rejoice! The 16th Annual Village Mushroom Festival will be happening all weekend and features live gypsy violin and guitar music, guided mushroom walks, exhibits assembled by mushroom experts and cooking demonstrations, all free to the public. What better way to celebrate fall and the forest then by honoring these edible gems in their prime season!

Willamette Valley

Rain is coming to the Willamette Valley, but the sun is also sticking around. Everything’s a rainbow in the great Northwest, from the trees in our landscapes to the arches in our sky. This weekend, spend some time in Corvallis where colors can be seen as you hike from Dimple Hill to Chip Ross Park. While exploring, stop off at the LaSells Stewart Center to check out this month’s featured exhibit, the Vistas & Vineyards 26th Anniversary Show. This showcase of Plein Air paintings from local artists will highlight outdoor scenes captured on canvas between mid-May and mid-October in Corvallis. See fall foliage in nature, and on paper!

Greater Portland
City streets are lined with color. Visit the town of Sherwood, specifically Sunset Street, for immaculate visions of autumn.

Lone Fir Cemetery showing Autumn Shades from Instagrammer DebinPDX

Lone Fir Cemetery showing Autumn Shades from Instagrammer DebinPDX

Whether offset by a gray or sun-filled sky, the picture is sure to please. Look for bright red trees with dark orange tones and yellow speckles.

It’s time for the 12th Annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta at the Tualitin Lake of the Commons.  Odds are you’ve never seen anyone sit inside a giant pumpkin, let alone race one across a lake dressed as a superhero or tooth fairy. If this is the kind of seasonal magic you’re into, be sure to check it out.

Eastern Oregon
In Baker County there are spots of fabulous color and large sections of land that are just now beginning to turn, depending on elevation and individual micro-climates. Leaf hunters report that the best foliage sightings were along the Elkhorn Scenic Byway (Highway 7), especially between Sumpter and Baker City. Following the Powder River towards Phillips Lake the larch and tamarack are turning orange gold. Access these changes by exploring extensive trail system along both sides of the Powder River via its recreation area. In Sumpter, the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Park is spectacular right now. Ambling along the park’s trails offers a nice variety of vibrant color and panoramic views of the surrounding Elkhorn Mountains.

Central Oregon
For glorious aspens in the great outdoors, take a ride down Highway 97 and visit Dillon Falls in Bend.


Walking through the Fall streets of Bend. Photo via Visit Bend

The second of three major waterfalls along the Deschutes River, the majority of Dillon Falls is slightly difficult to view without approaching by trail, but the site is definitely worth visiting.

If you’d like to head out with a
group, register for a fall colors hike
through Camp Polk Meadow Reserve lead by Carol Wall.

Explore this historic meadow while taking in the beautiful scenery and learning about the human and natural history of one of Central Oregon’s oldest places.

Southern Oregon
From the lower elevations on Highway 140, beginning in Rogue Valley, head east toward the Lake of the Woods and Rocky Point area. Here, you can expect to see aspens and oaks in vibrant fall colors. Almost the entire route is lined with beautiful scenery. From the Lake of the Woods Recreation Area, continue to Dead Indian Memorial Road and Clover Creek Road onto the town of Keno. From Keno, head west to access Highway 66 and loop back to the Rogue Valley. Leaf hunters report that this drive is a fall feast for the eyes!

This weekend in Southern Oregon, celebrate agriculture feats however you can. Hunt for color in the streets of Ashland and traipse on over to the Oregon Honey Festival, celebrating bees, honey, raw honey and almonds. If the town of Merrill better fits your mapped coordinates, make the 78th Annual Klamath Basin Potato Festival a part of your agenda. This year’s event is more exciting than before and features a parade, free BBQ, talent show, dunk tank and more, all in honor of the great potato.


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