Color is Starting to Pop as Fall Begins

Find out some highlights on where fall color is popping up all around Oregon with weekly color reports and some trip planning ideas from Adventure Specialist, Gabrielle Lent.

Read on as Gabrielle leaves the Willamette Valley and heads towards the mountains! With more color showing in the high altitudes of the Cascade Mountain Range, now is the perfect time to escape to the mountains to enjoy the first week of autumn! 

(note: information based on responses from our leaf peepers by 9/21/2016)

Central Oregon:

  • It seems that the trees have changed almost overnight.  Colors are dotting the trees Downtown Bend, due to cool nights, while the flowers continue because of warm days.
  • Event: Bend Roots Festival 2016, 9/23/2016

Willamette Valley:

  • Corvallis is just beginning to see the first blushes of red and yellow in the trees.
  • Event: The Corvallis Fall Festival, 9/24/2016 – 9/25/2016

Southern Oregon :


Read Oak Leaves, courtesy of Erica Agesen

  • Discover fall color at Prescott Park in Medford as the first of the oak leaves are  beginning to show off vibrant shades of red.
  • Event: The Jacksonville Oktoberfest, 9/23/2016 – 9/25/2016


Trip Spotlight: The Willamette Valley to Central Oregon 

The season has begun. Though not yet in full swing, a colorful metamorphosis is taking place among trees lining neighborhood streets and silent giants in pristine forest lands. Some front runners for change include red maples, white oak, Oregon ash and quaking aspen trees. Big leaf maples are taking their time with transition, so areas heavily populated with these trees (like the Oregon Coast and the Columbia Gorge) are going to need another week or two before revealing themselves yellow. Here’s what we’ve seen so far!

In Lane County, a drive down Territorial Highway through Veneta showcases brilliant pastures populated by cows and flanked by brushed orange Acer nigrum, the merlot stain of sugar maple and mighty white oak whose crispy brown leaves cling tightly to branches. To the south, Lorane Highway is stunning, rain or shine. Every bend in the road is picture perfect, scenes complete with classic red barns and broken down tractors left to rust in the serenity of this countryside. In either direction, a multitude of wineries have settled into this ideal real estate and should be considered as a destination for travelers exploring these parts.

A hike at Sweet Creek Falls in Mapleton is delightful for sure, with a forest of ferns, alder trees, cascara blackthorn and sleeping big leaf maples all bordering the gently flowing creek. It’s not exactly showtime, but this is a spot to watch as the season goes on.


Heading down Highway 58, travelers are immediately greeted with the magic of Pleasant Hill, a small town where horses graze by fences protecting row after row of filbert trees. Going further, the oak groves and tall, rustling thistles of Elijah Bristow State Park are harvest colored, offering daytrippers an invitation to stretch their legs and contemplate nature. Continue on past Hills Creek Dam, past Salt Creek Falls, and the elevation gains. As the altitude gets higher, vine maples appear, popping up with warm gradients from outcroppings of rock and between the needles of Douglas Fir.


From Highway 58, a left turn on Crescent Cutoff Road reveals a secluded byway nestled between trickling streams and the beginnings of fall splendor in the towns of Crescent and Gilchrist. Where the road meets Highway 97, a left toward La Pine shoots drivers through Gilchrist Sate Forest, a somewhat dry and unexciting spans of land. However, just beyond the forest’s limits, stands of aspen await like a glistening well spring, their buttery yellow jazz hands a flutter with the slightest breeze, waving and welcoming one to the high desert terrain of Central Oregon. Fun Oregon fact, the main artery of La Pine is a road called Ashton Eaton Boulevard.


In the towns of Bend and Sisters, yellow flowering rabbitbrush and delicate ferns lace the dusty ground next to juniper bush and chokecherry trees. This would be a good time to visit Tumalo State Park, or explore the pine Manzanita hillside of Black Butte. The junction for the turnoff to Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Trailheads at Highway 20 is alive in orange and red, and thriving in the clear cut slopes of Mt. Washington are freckles of distant yellow trees. Corbett State Park and Camp Sherman are also fairly turned up right now, maybe two more weeks until peak of season in this area.



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