Plan Your Fall Foliage Trip!

Happy summer from the Oregon Fall Foliage team! Believe it or not, now is the time to start planning fall foliage trips. There are so many ways and places to see beautiful colors across Oregon!

Cyclists on the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway in Cottage Grove

Cyclists on the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway in Cottage Grove

We don’t always know WHEN the leaves will be at their brightest. Mother Nature keeps that insider info to herself. However, we’ve been following leaf patterns for 10 years now, so we have a good idea of where they start and when they go.

Drake Park and Mirror Pond (courtesy: Manasi Seth)

Drake Park and Mirror Pond (courtesy: Manasi Seth)

But that’s not the only reason we’re here. We also have awesome ideas of the best ways to experience the entire fall season. We’ll tell you the best fall drives, the best fall hikes, where to find the best fall flavors at Oregon restaurants and new trip ideas that you’ve likely never heard of. Plus, we’ll post amazing deals on lodging, adventures and dining.

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Share your pictures with us by tagging them #ORFallFoliage. We’ll pick the best to use (with credit, of course) for our Fall Photos of the Day. Send us your favorite leaf pics from past years to get excited for Oregon Fall Foliage 2013.

Hunting for Eastern Oregon’s Fall Colors

Eastern Oregon University library

Eastern Oregon University library, La Grande

Oregon’s east side is a landscape of diversity. Often pictured as “high desert,” this expansive region actually is home to five mountain ranges, the deepest river gorge in North America, two National Scenic Byways, three Oregon byways, and yes, a sagebrush or two. Fall golden colors are found in cottonwoods and quaking aspen along the rivers and trickling down gullies on the rolling hills like warm yellow honey. The bright red sumac bushes are stunning in the fall and often provide a nice respite for deer, elk, and even an occasional black bear. Lining the quiet streets of Eastern Oregon’s historic little towns, you’ll find maple, birch, and horse-chestnut showing off their colors. Not to be up-staged by the foliage, the geology also offers an amazing pallet in the rock and sediment formations of the John Day River Territory.

Painted Hills

Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Traveling to the eastern portion of Oregon does take a bit of planning for your fall color hunting trip. The tank needs to be full; the evenings will be chilly, so throw on a jacket and a pair of good shoes. There are plenty of options for accommodations and many great places to fill up the ‘tummy’ tank too. After a day of hiking or driving the scenic byways hunting for colors, a hand-crafted beer is definitely in order. Eastern Oregon’s six micro-breweries are becoming known worldwide. Pick up a ‘Beer Tag’ (yes, hunting is BIG in this region, even when hunting beers!) in Pendleton, Baker City, Joseph, Enterprise, La Grande, or Ontario and participate in this ‘Controlled Hunt’ to sample some great beers.

Union House
Union House

The best time to visit Eastern Oregon for colors is late September into November. Find more at: VisitEasternOregon.com

Favorite Fall Hikes: Eastern Oregon Hikes

Variety of ColorsImage Courtesy Eastern Oregon Visitors Association

Eastern Oregon offers plenty of gorgeous colors for fall hikers, and we’ve outlined a few of our favorites below. For more information on any of these hikes, contact the Eastern Oregon Visitors Association.

Steens Mountain – Fish Lake
One of my favorite memories is a fall trip camping at Fish Lake with my mom and dad.  The quaking aspen were alive with both bright rusting orange and the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves.  The hike along the Rim Road allowed for a peek down Kieger Canyon with rust, yellow and fading green against the dynamic backdrop of rock and sagebrush.

La Grande Historic Homes
One of my favorite fall walks is a leisurely stroll past the historic homes of La Grande.  The beautifully landscaped lawns and the smell of the earth, all under the canopy of brightly-covered maple, chestnut and birch trees makes for a great afternoon or morning.  The campus of Eastern Oregon University is particularly stunning during the fall months.

EOUImage Courtesy Eastern Oregon Visitors Association

Hells Canyon – River’s Edge Trail
The entire Hells Canyon Scenic Byway is a fall treat, and many hikes are accessible from the Byway.  A favorite is the hike along the river’s edge, below Hells Canyon Dam.  The sumac turns bright red against the roughed rock formations, and holds a treasure of ash, greasewood and quaking aspen, turning yellow and red with some nearly purple hues.

Umatilla Dam – Nature Trail
The trail following the Columbia River near the Umatilla Dam is an amazing fall hike.  Not only will it be a treat for the color-crazed visitor, it will also bring surprises to the bird and wildlife watcher.  You’ll find upland game birds such as duck, geese, pheasants and quail.  Smaller song birds are also plentiful, many gathering for their migration and singing special fall songs.

-Alice Trindle, Eastern Oregon Visitors Association