Waterfall in Silver Falls State Park

Fall Foliage in the Pacific Northwest Road Trip Itinerary

Though the Pacific Northwest has a reputation for being foggy and rainy during the fall season, the wet conditions and cooling temperatures more often that not make for stunning landscapes blanketed in breathtaking fall colors. From the forests of Oregon to the high peaks of Washington State, you’ll find scenic drives and hiking trails that will immerse you in the landscape and the fall foliage of the Pacific Northwest.

1. Fall Foliage in Oregon

September and October at Crater Lake in Oregon in a sportsmobile van

Photo by @pureadirondacks

East of Crater Lake National Park is the 2.3-million acre Fremont-Winema National Forest, a destination that draws outdoor enthusiasts from all over the country. You can spend a whole day enjoying the foliage and exploring both the national forest and Crater Lake National Park by following the 140-mile Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. The route begins on US-97 at Diamond Lake Junction where OR-138 winds through the Fremont-Winema National Forest. The road takes you to Rim Drive in Crater Lake National Park, a 33-mile road that circles the lake. Once you’ve enjoyed the views and interpretive displays at the visitor’s center, exit through the south entrance of the park towards Fort Klamath and Klamath Lake. You can enjoy the lake from shore or rent a boat to explore Oregon’s largest freshwater lake. You can choose to stop at any point along the route or continue southward beyond Klamath Falls, passing through historic districts and sites and eventually to the Oregon-California border where visitors will find Tulelake, Lava Beds National Monument and Mt. Shasta, and eventually, Lassen Volcanic National Park.

A second great fall destination in Oregon is the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area. Head back north from Crater Lake National Park to Interstate 84 where you’ll find more than 80 miles of scenic landscape around this stretch of highway. In fact, it’s recognized as such a scenic destination that it was one of the first in the United States specifically designed for scenic tourism.

Pro Tips: Fall colors are typically at their peak in Oregon from mid-September to mid-October. You can call the free Oregon Fall Foliage Hotline (800-547-5445) to check on the status of the changing leaves.

2. Fall Foliage in Washington

Mt Shuksan and Picture Lake in fall in North Cascades National Park

Mt. Shuksan and Picture Lake in North Cascades National Park in Washington in the fall – the perfect time to visit. Photo Credit: Jeff Hollett (Flickr)

Start the Washington portion of your fall foliage in the Pacific Northwest trip by driving along Highway 14 on the Washington state side of the Columbia River and Columbia River Gorge. You’ll be able to enjoy the fall foliage while also enjoying the endless recreation opportunities that the area has to offer. If you’re into water sports, the favorable wind conditions in the Gorge have made it an international destination for sailing, windsurfing, and kite sailing. You can also find waterfalls and stunning rock formations left over from Ice Age machinations.

From the Columbia River Gorge, drive north to the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests. Situated on the west side of the Cascades between the Canadian border and Mount Rainier National Park, this stunning destination offers a high alpine fall foliage experience. There are two major scenic byways that run through the forests—the Mount Baker Byway and the North Cascades Highway—both of which offer unforgettable overlooks and views as well as opportunities for landscape photography and outdoor activities.

Pro Tips: Fall colors are typically at their peak in Washington from mid-September through mid-October. A free hotline offers daily color reports as well so that you can optimize your travel time. Call 800-354-4595 during the fall season for up-to-date information.

Summer is the busiest tourist season in the Pacific Northwest, so consider booking a fall getaway to beat the crowds. Book your campervan rental now with ROAMERICA!

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