Falling through Oregon

Autumn is in full effect and the fog and crisp air have come to Oregon. The comfort-seeking weather welcomes visitors to embark on cozy outings, prop up at coffee shops, and take a dip in our hot springs! All around Oregon there are many geothermal hot springs that welcome visitors with a warm presence. There is no better time to take a soak than during the Autumn, when all the fall foliage colors are at their peak.

Fall Foliage in Each Region

Portland Metro Area: Portland is beginning to be past peak for fall foliage while Southern and Eastern Oregon still have some fall foliage remaining. There are still some fall colors, but they are predicted to begin to change within the next week.

Columbia River Gorge: Columbia River Gorge is beginning to be past peak for fall foliage. There are still a lot of yellow maples as well as some oranges, but they will most likely begin to change colors within the next week.

Willamette Valley: The Willamette Valley is currently in peak fall foliage and some leaves have begun to fall off trees due to some rain. Halloween will bring the leaves in the Willamette Valley to past peak, while Southern Oregon will still be colorful.

Central Oregon: Central Oregon is at peak fall foliage and there are a lot of reds, oranges, and yellows. This next week will be the best time to visit Central Oregon for fall foliage.

Southern Oregon: Southern Oregon is coming into its peak for fall foliage with some yellows and oranges.

Eastern Oregon: Eastern Oregon is in its peak for fall foliage this season. There are a lot of yellows and the leaves are predicted to stay in color for the next week.

Bagby Hot Springs

Hidden among fir trees along the Clackamas River, southeast of Estacada, lies Bagby, a popular Oregon destination featuring cedar plumbing and handcrafted tubs. A 1 ½ mile hike through the forest leads you to the day-use facility, which is managed by the Forest Service. Bagby has a $5 cash only soaking fee and camping is available for an additional cost at nearby Bagby Campground.



Terwilliger Hot Springs

Terwilliger Hot Springs (AKA: Cougar Hot Spring) is accessible via a windy scenic mountain drive on the Aufderheide Drive, and then a short hike to six natural pools in a gorgeous waterfall setting under shady trees, surrounded by new vegetation springing up from a recent wildfire. The spring is day use only, strictly enforced by the Forest Service. Clothing is optional in the pools, and soakers can utilize changing areas and nearby bathroom facilities. $7 cash per day (Children under 12 free). No camping. Recreation passes not required but it is important to note that camping is not allowed, however, camping is available nearby.



Paulina Lake Hot Springs

Located near the Newbury Volcanic Monument in the Deschutes National Forest, you can hike 1.2 miles to soak along the sandy banks of Paulina Lake overlooking the serene Cascade range. We recommend calling the ranger station before heading out on your trip as sometimes lake levels affect access during the colder months. Paulina Lake and Little Crater Campgrounds are close by, have potable water and restrooms but it is worth nothing that they are only open May – October. Dispersed camping options are located nearby at North Cove Beach if you visit in the off season.


Umpqua Hot Springs

Located near the impressive Toketee Falls is the equally impressive Umpqua Hot Springs. The springs boast a birds’-eye view over the Umpqua River with loads of hiking trails nearby. The site features a tub with six small shallow pools carved into the hillside. Restrooms are available and parking access is available for $5 a day, which is managed by the Forest Service. The hot springs are day use only, but nearby camping is available at Toketee Lake Campground. Recreation passes accepted at this location!


Alvord Hot Springs

At the base of the majestic Steens Mountain range and edge of the Alvord Desert lies the idyllic Alvord Hot Springs. The rustic structure and wooden deck add to the charm of this isolated desert soaking spot. The crisp fall air is the perfect juxtopsotiion to the geothermal springs. Public access is $8 a day managed by the Alvord Ranch (Children under 12 free). Changing rooms and a gift shop are on-site as well as overnight camping for a small fee.

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Waterfalls and Fall Colors

Welcome to the beginning of peak color change! Fall is the perfect time to get outside and explore waterfalls. As the rain begins to slowly come back and the leaves dive into change, standing in awe of a large waterfall compares to no other feeling.

Here in Oregon, we are lucky enough to have plenty of waterfalls to hike to across the state. This time of year, the rivers have begun to flow faster and the waterfalls have returned to their full force. Below you will a quick update on fall foliage in each region of Oregon, and find some of our favorite waterfalls to visit this time of year.

Fall Foliage in Each Region

Portland Metro Area: Portland is in peak fall foliage and is predicted to be past peak within the next week.

Columbia River Gorge: Columbia River Gorge is currently in peak fall foliage season. There are a lot of yellow maples as well as some oranges.

Willamette Valley: The Willamette Valley is getting close to peak fall foliage with lots of oranges and reds. The peak leaf change is predicted to be within this week.

Central Oregon: Central Oregon is almost at peak fall foliage this season. There are a lot of yellows and peak is predicted to be next week (October 21st to 25th).

Southern Oregon: Southern Oregon is just beginning to get some fall foliage change with some yellows and oranges. It is predicted to be peak season during the last week of October.

Eastern Oregon: Eastern Oregon is almost at peak fall foliage this season. There are a lot of yellows and peak is predicted to be next week (October 21st to 25th).

Multnomah Falls

Falling 620 feet (192 m), Multnomah Falls is considered the crowned gem of the Columbia River Gorge. Located close to the Portland metro area, this waterfall is one of the most photographed and visited in the whole state of Oregon. In autumn the scenic gold maples frame the surrounding cliffs and make the cascading falls stand out. The changing seasons tend to bring crowds to Multnomah Falls, so a tip for visiting this location is to stop by during the week. The path to the base of the falls is entirely paved although there is an incline past the visitor center and restaurant.

Salt Creek Falls

Tucked in the Willamette National Forest is the second-largest accessible waterfall in Oregon, Salt Creek Falls. Plunging over volcanic rock at a height of 286 feet (87 m), this waterfall can be viewed from a viewing platform near the parking area. It is considered one of Oregon’s most powerful waterfalls, with an average yearly flow of 50,000 gallons per minute surging over the rocks. In the autumn, the leaves change all around the falls making the free-falling waterfall stand out above the rest.

Silver Falls State Park

Considered the most popular state park in Oregon, Silver Falls offers a phenomenal waterfall experience. Taking the trail of ten falls, visitors can walk through a lush canyon while seeing beautiful, large waterfalls. In the autumn when all the maple leaves hue yellow and orange, the waterfalls become alive. For visitors looking for waterfalls and fall foliage, few places in Oregon compare.

Koosah Falls

Rushing along the McKenzie River Trail, Koosah Falls may not be the tallest of the three major waterfalls along the McKenzie River, but it has a lot to offer. Dropping 74 feet (22.6 m) directly over an abrupt lava cap, Koosah Falls has a unique appearance of its own. There is a viewing platform where visitors can see the falls as well as watch the rushing water flow further along the McKenzie River. In the autumn, the McKenzie River has a turquoise tinted blue color that contrasts brilliantly with the yellows and oranges of the changing maples.

October in Oregon

Fall foliage is finally starting to bloom in the Willamette Valley right now! Areas around Eugene and the Southern Willamette Valley are colorful, filled with lots of red maples, yellow larches and dark purple plum trees. This September we experienced a heavy rain in Western Oregon — more than 4 inches fell last month, though the average is .2 inches! We are estimating this has delayed some of the leaf-turning so far, though we are still expecting a mid-October peak season (roughly 1.5 – 2 weeks out).

Vine maples and aspens are showing their colors at higher altitudes. Again, mild temperatures through the state continue to make us guess that peak season will be closer to mid-October, possibly slightly later than originally thought.

This time of the year is ideal for outdoor adventures! Check out a fun guide on fall hikes here, and find a few scenic drive suggestions to plan your routes below:

– Columbia River Gorge: Hwy 84 from Portland east to Hood River—waterfalls, orchards, scenic small towns and river views.

– Willamette Valley: South of Portland along Hwy 99 (west of I-5), through Newburg and down to Eugene or Cottage Grove–lovely winding route through farmland, rolling hills, wineries and college towns.


Color popping in Eugene

– Southern Oregon: Medford to Jacksonville and Ashland – historic sights, world-class theater and mountain views.

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Beautiful shot of Lithia Park by @stevendavisphoto

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