Riders pass over six covered bridges and through a bright yellow tunnel of cottonwoods on the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway in Cottage Grove. (Photo credit: Russ Roca)
The Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway passes waterfalls, overlooks and forests bright with seasonal color. (Photo credit: David Jensen)
Watch for maple, cottonwood and tamaracks on a fall train ride. (Photo credit: Larry Andreasen)

Summer wanes, the temperatures drop and Oregon’s forests move into fall party mode. From mountain forests to river valleys around the state, a riot of color celebrates the changing of the seasons. Get out and join the festivities by bike, by car, by train or on foot. Make sure to check the statewide fall foliage blog,, before your trip. Beginning September 5, weekly updates will point you to where you can find the best fall color around the state. You can also follow fall foliage updates on Twitter and share your own fall photos by tagging them #ORFallFoliage and #traveloregon on Instagram.

Bike rides
Take in views of autumn fields and vineyards along the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. The 134-mile route starts in Champoeg State Park north of Salem and ends in Armitage County Park in Coburg, and can be ridden in its entirety or in sections. Look for the fiery reds and oranges of maturing grapevines and golden leaves of walnut trees in towns along the route. The 36-mile Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway starts and ends in Cottage Grove. Riders pass over six covered bridges (three on the historic register) and through a bright yellow tunnel of cottonwoods. You’ll see colorful oaks along the hillsides.

Car rides
Follow the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway from Gold Hill east of Grants Pass north toward Crater Lake (an easy side trip) then west through Glide to Roseburg. The route takes you past several volcanic peaks, rushing rivers and fall splendor in the Umpqua National Forest. The Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway follows the river from Troutdale to Cascade Locks and Mosier to The Dalles, passing dozens of waterfalls, overlooks and forests bright with seasonal color.

Train rides
The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, departing out of Wheeler, offers the Nehalem River Fall Splendor Excursion Train with gorgeous views of Nehalem Bay and the red and orange palette of maple and poplar trees among the evergreens. Eagle Cap Excursion Train winds out of Elgin and into lovely roadless forests along the Grande Ronde River to meet up with the Wild and Scenic Wallowa River near the mountains. Check out the Fall Foliage Trains, and the Boo Train! Halloween Fun. You’ll see golden larches (aka tamaracks) and bright yellow leaves of cottonwood and willow trees. Hop aboard the Sumpter Valley Railroad, a vintage 1915 steam locomotive near Baker City, as it travels through old mining country. October sees Fall Color Trains and two special weekends for photography.

Just off the highway near Terrebone, hike Gray Butte for backdoor access to Smith Rock State Park. The 5-mile, easy, out-and-back can be hiked all year. The end point overlook offers scenic views of snowcapped peaks, majestic Smith Rock, the Crooked River and sagebrush-covered hillsides. The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness lights up with golden larches, dogwoods and cottonwoods in the autumn. An easy 5.8-mile route along the East Fork Canyon Creek hike (with a trailhead south of Canyon City) is a good bet for fall color and solitude.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. barb says…

    You have a fantastic site. I look forward to all the e-mails from Travel Oregon. We can never forget or take for granted the wonderful state we live in. I help out at Saturday Market on weekends in Portland & all the tourists tell us what a wonderful state we have. They love the friendly people too. Thanks Travel Oregon for keeping us updated on all the great activities going on in our state & the some time forgotten places we over-look. Barb

    Written on September 3rd, 2014 / Flag this Comment
  2. Sheryl says…

    Fall is my favorite time of year. Can’t wait to get out and enjoy Oregon’s splendor!

    Written on September 3rd, 2014 / Flag this Comment
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