Washington may be the Evergreen State, but in fall, you’ll find that not all of its flora got the memo. For splashes of golden, fiery leaves amid a sea of green, these are the best spots for gazing upon the seasonal fall foliage in Washington State
You know you’ve found a good fall foliage spot when a town hosts its own Autumn Leaf Festival. The charming Leavenworth is a great starting point for autumn vistas since it is nestled in the Cascade Mountains. Nearby trails and routes for admiring the fall colors include The Enchantments, Cascade Loop Scenic Highway, Tumwater Canyon, Apple Capital Loop Trail, and Blackbird Island. Otherwise, stay in town at Waterfront Park for something just as stunning.
Leavenworth, WA, USA
Mt. Rainier National Park
If any place were suited for scenic viewing without being intentionally designed as such, it would probably be somewhere with limited human development, such as a national park. Mt. Rainier National Park has got it and flaunts it. The best areas on the mountain for the brilliant colors of fall include Paradise, Reflection Lakes, Bench and Snow Lakes, and the Grove of the Patriarchs. Driving along Chinook Pass on State Route 410 or the White Pass Scenic Byway on U.S. Highway 12 will also provide astonishing vistas.
Mt. Rainier National Park, WA, USA
The Hoh Rainforest could easily outdo anything on any list—except for maybe a list of deserts. During the autumn season, the rainforest is nothing short of magical. The increased rain makes for more intensely beautiful waterfalls. Bright salmon swim in the creeks where otters and bobcats wait to snatch them. The elk-mating season is in full gear with moss-covered antlers and trumpet-like calls, and it’s easier to see the animals since there aren’t a lot of tourists during this time of year. The reds, oranges, and yellows dappled against green moss are joined by pockets of mushrooms popping up in the wetter climate. Top trails for viewing all of this include the Hall of Mosses Trail, Hurricane Ridge Road, Spruce Nature Trail, Hoh River Trail, all along the Quinault River, and Highway 101 between Forks and Lake Crescent.
Hoh Rainforest, 18113 Upper Hoh Rd, Forks, WA, USA
Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest city park and a wonderful way to get lost in nature without leaving the city. With tidal beaches, meadows, sea cliffs, a forest, streams, and active sand dunes, autumn is pretty much guaranteed to glisten on the park’s 534 acres. It doesn’t hurt that the eye-catching colors also happen to be framed by the Olympic and Cascade Mountain Ranges as well as Puget Sound.
Discovery Park, 3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA, USA
Columbia River Gorge
First things first, the technical designation for this gorgeous (#puns) area is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area; the U.S. government has already recognized how beautiful it is and spends money to protect it. How’s that for an endorsement! When it comes to fall colors, Beacon State Park, Route 20 (Maple Pass and Lake Ann), the Historic Columbia River Highway, and the Lewis and Clark Trail Scenic Byway all come highly recommended.
Columbia River Gorge, Hood River, OR, USA
Another Seattle gem, Kubota Garden brings a little flair to typical fall colors. Though the plants are indigenous to the area and follow their other flora friends’ range of hues, the design of the garden’s layout is Japanese. Stroll through this public park for an exotic display of vegetation Washingtonians already know and love.
Kubota Garden, 9817 55th Ave S, Seattle, WA, USA
Walla Walla Vineyards
Walla Walla vineyards (or Washington vineyards in general) are a beautiful place to visit year-round. In autumn though, there are two extra perks. Not only do the rows of expertly maintained grapes turn a dazzling gold with flecks of red, but there’s also Fall Release Weekend. Special activities keep guests entertained while they discover and taste newly released wines, with opportunities to speak directly with winemakers. And as you continue your wine-tasting tour, the fall colors—like people—will only get better looking.
Walla Walla Vineyards, Walla Walla, WA, USA
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
The third and final national forest on the list, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is best viewed from either the Mt. Baker Byway on State Route 542 or the North Cascades Highway on State Route 20. Of course, if you get bored of stunning shades of red, yellow, and orange, there are plenty of nearby outdoor activities to get you moving, which is true of most places on this list.
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Marblemount, WA, USA
Washington Park Arboretum
Washington Park Arboretum
The Washington Park Arboretum is one of many gorgeous places for fall foliage in Seattle, and the last of three to appear on this list. The park designates the Woodland Garden as the best section for autumn colors with its large portion of Japanese maples. A few colors that are less common during autumn, such as magenta and purple, stand out here—if you’re lucky. With the park having “more deciduous tree species than any other setting in the northwest,” the best time to see fall colors is mid- to late October.
Washington Park Arboretum, 2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle, WA, USA