Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s a roundup of the most common questions we get from folks searching for Oregon fall foliage information. Have a question that isn’t answered here? Leave a comment below, or call the Fall Foliage Hotline at 800-547-5445.

When is the peak time to see fall foliage in Oregon?
The most frequently asked question is also the most difficult to answer, as it can vary widely depending on location, elevation and weather. Trees at higher elevations change color first, and the third or fourth weekend in October is generally best for color throughout the state. Southwestern Oregon is often a week to ten days behind the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon. The Columbia River Gorge often peaks a few days to a week later than the Willamette Valley. While there is not as dramatic of a color change on the Oregon coast, there is a lot of beautiful yellow along streams in the Coast Range. Tamaracks, deciduous conifers, offer unique color change late October to mid-November in the mountains of northeastern Oregon. The diversity of trees planted in neighborhoods and communities throughout Oregon offer great color displays all season long.

How long does the fall color last?
It varies depending on a number of factors that are difficult to predict, but peak color typically lasts 2 weeks for any given area. The most color throughout the state is often the middle to end of October. Great pockets of color start appearing in the mountains late in September. The mix of conifers and deciduous trees offer late-season (typically early November) pockets of yellow and orange against a striking backdrop of green.

What makes the leaves turn color?
As autumn approaches and sunlight decreases, the production of chlorophyll ceases and breaks down and causes other pigments in leaves to show. The type of pigments present in a leaf determines its fall colors (this is why vine maples turn red and big leaf maples turn yellow). The time of change, the speed of change and the quality of colors are influenced by many environmental factors, including temperature and precipitation. The best color changes happen when the days are temperate and the evenings are cool, but not below freezing. If daytime temperatures are high for many days in a row, the colors may be less intense.

Which species of trees turn color in Oregon?
Oak turn orange. Big leaf maples, birch, ash, aspen and alder turn yellow. Dogwoods turn burgundy. Vine maples and huckleberries turn red. Tamaracks turn yellow before dropping their needles.

Where can I to go to see a variety of colors in one location?
Any of Oregon’s Scenic Byways are a good bet. One of our fall favorites is the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, which passes from the western Cascades through the largest lava flow in the northwest to the dry eastern Cascades. Because of these dramatic changes in environment, this byway offers a chance to see yellowing big leaf maples against the green backdrop of Douglas firs, red vine maples against black lava, and golden aspen near ponderosa pine. Other popular routes include the West Cascades Scenic Byway, Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, Steens Tour Loop, or the Cottage Grove Covered Bridge Tour Route, which is popular with cyclists and photographers.

Where is the best place to take pictures?
Check the weekly updates for suggested locations each week. In general, Scenic Byways and trails are good destinations for photographers. Consider picking a waterfall such as Proxy Falls off of Highway 242 or Salt Creek and Diamond Creek Falls off of Highway 58. Sweet Creek offers photo opportunities of yellow alders, and is accessible from Florence on the Central Oregon Coast off of Highway 126. In Eugene-Springfield, take pictures at Howard Buford Recreation Area, follow the paved path along the Willamette River, or walk through a working hazelnut farm at Springfield’s Dorris Ranch. If traveling to Portland, visit Hoyt Arboretum and the aerial tram before heading towards Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge.

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74 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Hey!

    I live in Mexico and I will follow this blog to plan my next vacations to Oregon!

    Best regards.

  2. I live in SoCal and want nothing more out of the Fall season than to be in the middle of all this beautiful landscape.

  3. We will be coming from Australia and spending two weeks travelling around Oregon especially to see the Fall leaves, when do you suggest would be the best time for us to start our driving vacation, cannot wait to see the spectacular colours 🙂 Christine

  4. Hi Christine! We are thrilled to hear you are coming to see Oregon’s marvelous fall colors, or should I say colours. Because our state is so geographically diverse, the leaves change at different times from mid October thru mid-November. I would aim to be in Oregon anywhere around that time. Do you have a particular destination or region in mind? That might help us give you a better answer. Send us an e-mail at Media@TravelLaneCounty.org.

  5. we visited the Oregon coast, Lincoln city, cannon beach and fell in love with that area. we also spent a few days in welches, and really loved mt. hood, salmon river and trillium lake. can you tell me when the fall colors would be at peak?

  6. The Oregon Coast is beautiful every day of the year. As for Mt. Hood, colors should be around peak the last weeks of October and early November.

  7. Can you provide historical best times for Fall color around Crater Lake? Thank you!

  8. Crater Lake is stunning year round, but there aren’t many trees around the rim so you don’t get the array of fall colors at the park. However, go to the lower elevations and you’ll find a few aspens. The best time to see those is around late September. Right now, Newberry’s knotweed, which skirts the crater rim, is bright red and will stay that way until it snows.

  9. Mid to late October has been peak season for the Portland area in the past. However, fall appears to be coming early this year so you might see the most vibrant colors a week or two earlier.

  10. Can you tell me the best time to visit the Ashland area and especially Lithia Park for fall colors? Thank you!

  11. Late October tends to be peak time for Southern Oregon, including Lithia Park. This year, expect it to come a little bit earlier, perhaps in mid October. Happy travels!

  12. Thank you for the information regarding Southern Oregon. I will be planning a trip for mid October. Have a great day!

  13. Hi, I will be in the area from September 19th – 28th. I was planning to spend a few days hiking in the gorge, visit crater lake for a day, and then spend a another few days visiting the coast. But based on the articles and some of the comments it seems like that might be too early for fall foliage in most places. Are there any places you can recommend that might be changing color around that time?

  14. Hi Marisa,

    Thank you for your note. While the colors don’t really start to change until mid to late October, you will still definitely see and feel fall while you are here. The crisp, sunny mornings and, according to our colleague “the best blue skies” of the year are in September. Many trees will be yellowing and softening.

    From Crater Lake, take Hwy 138 along the Umpqua River for alders and big leaf maples. This route is often called the “Highway of Waterfalls.” The crawdads in the creeks will be bright red and visible. Once you get to Roseburg, head north on I-5 and then take Hwy 38 to the coast. There’s a winery in Elkton and beautiful bridges along the way.

    We hope that helps! Have a wonderful trip!

    Best,
    The Oregon Fall Foliage Team

  15. Hi we are planning to visit oregon during mid October. We plan to camp .. What will be the best location so that we don’t have to travel much to see the fall colors . .

  16. Hi Sneha,

    Thanks for your question. I have three ideas for you. First, Waldo Lake off of Hwy 58 would be beautiful in mid-October. You will be surrounded by amazing hiking and mountain biking trails. It is higher up in elevation and sometimes it snows in October, so watch the forecast. If you want to stay lower, head to either the Delta or Paradise Campground along the McKenzie River and Hwy 126. If you stay at Delta, you’ll have easy access to the Aufderheide Scenic Drive, one of the best fall drives in the state. If you go to Paradise, you’ll be close to Koosah and Sahalie Falls and the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway. Hwy 242 (McKenzie Pass) closes around the first snowfall, which can be as early as the last week of October to mid November.

    Here are links to the campsites:
    Waldo – http://1.usa.gov/1xh7sJh
    Paradise – http://1.usa.gov/1tZsxFs
    Delta – http://1.usa.gov/1pdhZNt

    I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions.

    Happy travels!
    Molly & the Oregon Fall Foliage team

  17. Planning a trip for the fourth weekend in October to see the fall colors this year. Will we miss the fall colors? Are they coming in early?

  18. Hi Kelly,

    It depends on where you will be going. The leaves change first in the higher elevations, but the lower areas around the Willamette Valley (from the Greater Portland area to Eugene) will either be at peak or just starting to fade, so you will definitely still see color. Unseasonably warm weather is expected to continue for at least the next week, delaying some of the autumn transformation.

    I hope that helps. Please let us know if you have any more questions.

    Happy travels!

    Molly & the Oregon Fall Foliage team

  19. Hi Eleni,

    Thanks for the note! Thanksgiving is pretty late for fall colors in Oregon. However, you might luck out and still catch sidewalks covered in cherry reds and orange leaves that have recently fallen. Even if you don’t catch the color, Portland is a beautiful city year round.

    Have a wonderful visit!

    Molly and the Oregon Fall Foliage team

  20. Hi I plan on taking the coast starlight from California to Seattle November 11th. I’m not sure the exact route of the Amtrak train but am wondering if I should switch to an earlier itenerary to see any color.

  21. Hi Jane,

    The Coast Starlight follows Highway 97 up through Central Oregon and turns west at Highway 58 as it leads into Eugene. It then goes north, paralleling I-5 through the Willamette Valley.

    The route takes you through so many different elevations, so while you may miss peak by a few days in the higher elevations and Central Oregon, you will likely catch plenty of color in the Willamette Valley and around Portland.

    Bumping your trip up a few days would increase your chances of catching the fiery reds and pumpkin oranges.

    I hope that helps! Have a fabulous trip!

    Best,
    Molly & the Oregon Fall Foliage team

  22. Greetings,

    I’ve lived in Oregon all my life, but I just wanted to get your thoughts. I’m planning a Fall wedding for this year around the Corvallis area (or possibly Harrisburg/Albany/Monmouth). My preliminary research indicates that the most vibrant colors in the area would probably be mid to late October. But I’d love to hear your recommendations on the matter, and if you think early November would still be nice as well. Thanks!

  23. I am an amateur photographer and would like to spend a month in Central Oregon to take pictures of the fall color so wanted to double check when the best or peak colors are in central Oregon. I was thinking the month of October (2015), but could also have it span late September into October instead. I’ve read the colors will start sooner at the higher elevations so was not sure if being there in early October was soon enough.

    Thanks so much,
    Melanie

  24. Hi Jon,

    Sorry we missed your comment! As you likely know now, peak season looks to be closer to early October, and perhaps even late in September. Best wishes to your wedding this year!

  25. Hello,

    I will be heading out there Oct 16th was wondering how things will be looking? Not necessarily trying to make it for peak season but at least want to get the fall colors for photo opps.

  26. I’m looking to photograph two subjects (same area). I was planning to photograph Oneonta Gorge (because the lush green walls and water look amazing), and some fall color in the area. I was originally planning to do this during the weekend of Sept. 19 & 20th of 2015. Do you recommend this timeframe? or am I to late and to early? I’ll be driving in from California so If my timing is to early then I can hold off a bit.
    Recommendations are appreciated.

  27. I would, like to visit Oregon fall colors. My parents came from India all the way to Portland and leaving on Oct 14 2015. Could you please suggest the beast place to see the fall colors?

  28. We will be in Ashland for a few days in mid-October. Where can we see some nice fall color not too far from Ashland (we know about Lithia Park, so that’s covered)..

    Thanks.

  29. Hi Cindy,

    We’re currently expecting peak from early – mid October, so there’s a good chance you’ll be here in a perfect time frame for some great photos! Please feel free to share them with us here or on our social channels and we’ll be happy to share.

    Thanks!

  30. What a beautiful backdrop! From what we’re hearing and seeing currently, our expectations for peak are early – mid October. Some of those lush green colors will likely be a little different by that peak time, so if you hold off until a tad later in September, it’s more likely that you’ll capture that lush green from summer (and our recent late summer rains) with a good turn in Fall color.

  31. Hi! We are planning to drive to Oregon on October 9th, but we will only have a day to see the Fall colors. What would be our best bet for quick/easy access and the best views? Could you recommend one or two spots we can’t miss? Thank you very much!

  32. Hi! We are planning to drive to Oregon on October 9th from San Francisco, but we will only have one day to see the Fall colors. What would be our best bet for quick/easy access and the best views? Could you recommend one or two spots we can’t miss? Thank you very much!

  33. My wife read an article last months that said the colors would peak the first week of October, so I went ahead and booked my trip without doing research first. We leave tomorrow night and I’m worried we’re pretty much going to miss any and all color in the region. We’re flying into Seattle and driving around the NW for a week, any suggestions so the trip isn’t a complete bust on seeing some amazing colors?

  34. Hi Mark – absolutely! Actually, while we are hearing now that peak across the state should be nearer to mid-October, you’ll have a good chance at seeing some great Fall colors in a few regions around Oregon. We’re hearing that Central Oregon has colors popping and at the same time colors fading in various parts of areas like Bend. South of Portland is seeing colors pop (areas like Dayton, Dundee, Yamhill County). A drive along the Gorge might be a good route to go as well – hearing that Hood River is starting to see color pop in as well!

  35. Great to hear! How far up will you be going? We’ve heard that Klamath Falls and Crater lake are both seeing colors pop, Crater Lake is nearing peak in some of the lower elevations. A drive up I-5 with stops in Ashland and those other two Southern Oregon stops might be your best bet depending on how how far you were planning on going north!

  36. What a fantastic trip! Some great spots to see Fall colors around Portland will likely be along the Gorge and south of Portland (wine country is beautiful in Fall as you enter Yamhill County) along the Willamette Valley. Those areas are all starting to see color pop, hopefully nearer to mid-October it should be closer to peak!

  37. where do you recommend taking pictures come the weekend-week of Oct 16-23rd? from waterfalls to covered highways, parks etc. looking to capture some colorful fall backgrounds.

  38. Ashland’s Lithia Park is looking great! We’d definitely suggest taking a peek in that area and perhaps visiting Crater Lake if you make your way toward central Oregon at all. Grant’s Pass is also very scenic and should have some nice colors popping

  39. Would the Grant’s Pass colors be in town or out in the surrounding area? Also, you have mentioned the road from Medford up to Crater Lake, especially the Union Creek area – would that be good for next week? Thanks for mentioning Lithia Park. We visit Ashland almost every year and the park is amazing. We were also hoping for some other areas to visit. Thanks.

  40. I want to visit the Japanese garden next year for the first time. I am an amateur photographer but jope to catch the gorgous Japanese maples in full color. Any suggestions on the best time in autumn for the peak maple color change. I know it varies but do you have an average time for japanese garden peak color. I also am interested in buying photographer membership for before crowd admission. Any info is appreciated!

  41. Timing for colors do vary quite a bit from year to year. Our peak is usually in Mid October, so that’s when we would suggest for now!

  42. Pingback: When Does Fall Start In Portlandsettle.cf | settle.cf

  43. I’m heading to the Willamette national forest area in Fall, possibly early to mid-November this year. Do you think I’ll miss the fall foliage??

  44. Hi Jenn – That will be great timing to see Fall colors in the Willamette National Forest! Our color usually lasts through the mid – late November if it’s a wet Fall. So far the year has been less dry than last, so that’s a good sign!

  45. Hi
    We plan to go to Oregon Oct 20. Or the week after that.
    When is the peak most likey to happen?
    Where would you recomend we go if we will stay 3 days? We like hiking
    Are there lakes where can rent canoes and see folliage?
    Thnks
    Aaron

  46. I will be heading to Portland on October 14, and then down the coast and back up to Portland. What is the best place to see fall colors or will I be too early?

  47. Hi Aaron – At this point it sounds like you will be right in the thick of peak this season! If you like hiking the Mt. Hood and Eugene areas both offer great routes to the outdoors, and can be linked together through Portland and down I-5 for several routes through Fall color. A few Cascades lakes we could recommend seeing during the fall are Waldo, Dexter, and Clear Lake

  48. Sounds like a great trip! You should be in the timeframe for nice fall color. Hotspots for color though the coast will vary quite a bit, but the drive out to Highway 101 along 26 from Portland should bring quite a bit of color. Off of 101, Highway 126 and Highway 18 should have nice fall foliage pop along as well

  49. Hi!
    My husband and i are debating on visiting the first week of October or The First week of November. I’ve gotten mixed messaged else ware about when to visit and that you are having an early fall. Id just like to see as many colors as i can. Thank you.

  50. Hi Samantha! – it has been a bit of a mixed bag for early fall color. Spots like Bend, Eugene and Portland have reported color starting to pop up but we haven’t heard overwhelming reports of color starting just quite yet. We’re estimating peak this year around mid-October so an early November visit should be a good timeframe to see color in Oregon. Color here tends to last through the month of November!

  51. Hi
    We will be in Oregon oct 21-24. Will stay in Mount hood and want to drive around the state. Would like to ask
    1) what are the small routes for the best peak folliage now?
    2) best hiking trails to see folliage now?
    3 are there some byke ways where can see great folliage this week?
    4) are there some lakes to canoe and see folliage now?
    Thanks
    Aaron

  52. Hi Aaron – great to hear. Mt. Hood area should have some nice colors lingering in that timeframe, we’re hearing the Gorge is starting to pop now with a few oranges and yellows. Along Hwy 84 and into Portland there are some nice Fall colors popping right now near the area you’ll be in. Hikes like Angel’s Rest and Latourell Falls are super this time of year. Here’s a link for more info https://www.mthoodterritory.com/

  53. Thanks for reply!
    From what you say it would seem Mount Hood area in not yet at peak foliage.
    Where are the peak folliage areas this week?
    Is there a website that track the folllige map real time?
    Thanks
    Aaron

  54. Hi Aaron – it sounds like the Mt. Hood area is starting to peak in some areas, it might not be as consistent since it’s a diverse landscape but you should see some nice colors throughout. Unfortunately we haven’t found a reliable website to track foliage on a map in real time – let us know if you find one! We’ll continue to update our site here every Friday with updates on what we hear is peaking every week – check out our most recent post for updates on that! https://oregonfallfoliage.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/see-fall-foliage-through-oregon/

  55. Hi
    My husband and I are planning to visit Portland Oregon around Oct 14-16 2017 or Oct 21-23. We are flexible with the dates right now so please suggest which week will be good to see colors. Can we also visit Crater lake during our 3-day trip? What places to visit in Portland to see colors? Thank you for yoru help.

  56. Thanks for visiting the blog! While there is no way of knowing for sure what kinds of color fall has planned for us here in Oregon this year, visiting October 21st-23rd would, historically speaking, set you up to see some amazing hues! Portland normally turns into a fall paradise the end of October towards the beginning of November, some places in Portland known for Fall colors are Hoyt Arboretum, the Japanese Gardens and every a simply walk along the waterfront. Visiting Crater Lake is doable; however it will take some time to drive there. Google estimates 4 hours along Interstate 5. You could make the best of the drive by taking more scenic routes; something like Highway 22 to Sisters and Highway 97 to Crater Lake. Crater Lake does sit at an elevation of 7,100 feet above sea level and receives 44 feet of snow, with snow usually starting around the same time as your trip. Please check the current conditions of the park the day you plan on visiting.

  57. Wow, thank you so much for your detailed response. This really helps to plan our trip 3-day trip accordingly. I appreciate your help.

  58. How badly will the 2017 wildfires affect our fall foliage? I know there are far greater issues with the burned acreage, but they are well covered elsewhere in the media.

  59. Christine, thank’s for you question. We are still waiting to see the full impact the fires will have on Oregon’s Fall colors. We know some popular trails will be closed both in the Gorge and along the Aufderheide. There are some beautiful trails along the coast, around Portland and in the Valley to experience! Stay tuned to the blog for the most up-to-date information.

  60. Could you please suggest the best time/place for this weekend to see the fall colors in Oregon?

  61. We’ll visiting Portland between Oct 12 to Oct 15. Primary goal during this trip is to see the Fall colors and photograph them. We’ll be driving south to Sacramento from Portland. Is this the right time to visit for seeing fall colors? What places in Oregon do you suggest for Photography along the drive from Portand to Sacramento?

  62. Nayan, while I-5 will be the fastest Hwy 99E has some amazing county side. If your are in Portland looking to photography fall colors, check out Hoyt Arboretum, we have seen a lot of photos coming out of that area that last few days.

  63. Indrajeet, sorry to have missed you! For the most recent fall foliage reports. Check out the Fall Foliage Weekly Update on Fridays!

  64. Hi,

    I have been following your site for past few weeks. It has been very helpful to track the fall foliage. We are in Bay area (San Francisco, CA) and about 7 hours drive from Southern Oregon.

    We want to drive to South Oregon the coming weekend (27th Oct) to try out our luck to catch some fall foliage. Do you think that is a good idea or should we wait for one more week?

    Also, given that we are driving that far – do you recommend any specific places/parks which we shouldn’t miss?

    Appreciate the help in advance.

    Thanks
    Ravi

  65. Ravi,

    This would be a great weekend to make the drive! We are starting to hear back that fall colors are fading in some spots around the state so don’t wait!
    Silver Falls is really stunning at the moment, we shared an post from the Oregonian on the Facebook Page.

  66. Thanks for the recommendations. We did make the road trip and it was amazing. We did catch the fall colors on the rogue-umpqua scenic route and also, in Lithia park in Ashland. Crater lake was great too!
    Appreciate your help again – this site and the phone line was really helpful in planning this trip!

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