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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.