: Hood River Valley by Greg Vaughn

Top Things to Do in Oregon This Fall

How to plan a trip in the crisp, less-crowded season.
September 21, 2017 (Updated August 21, 2023)

Many Oregonians cite fall as their favorite season, and it’s easy to understand why. As the heat of summer subsides and the crowds wane, the sun tends to stick around to illuminate reddening foliage, ripening pears and August-warmed waters. It’s time to throw expectations into the increasingly cool winds since you’re just as likely to find a gorgeous warm day at the beach as you are an early-season snowstorm in the Cascades. Dress in layers and don’t forget the camera.

Hopworks BikeBar by Robbie McClaran

Portland Food + Drink

Celebrate your love of great food and drink with a tasting trip in and around the Portland Region. There’s so much new lately, from brewpubs and urban wineries to food carts to award-winning restaurants. With crisp autumn temperatures it’s delightful to get around by foot or bike — rentals can be found around the city, or hop on a bike share with BIKETOWN.

Bonus: If you want someone to do the planning for you, book a guided food tour with a company like Lost Plate or Forktown. These pros will show you the top spots with curated recommendations to suit your taste.

Kiyokawa Family Orchards by Tyler Roemer

Hood River County Fruit Loop

Fall is apple and pear season, making it prime time to tour the Hood River County Fruit Loop. The drive out here itself is one of the most scenic in the West, but along the way, find a myriad of orchards where you can pick fruit and sample fresh cider. A handful of wineries, pumpkin patches and many more surprises sweeten the deal.

Bonus: Hood River is hardly the only place in Oregon to find fresh cider. The Willamette Valley is home to a number of spectacular cideries that use orchard-grown fruit, and the brisk fall is a perfect time to visit for sublime blue-sky views.

Courtesy of Smith Rock Ranch

Smith Rock pumpkins

Speaking of pumpkins, Central Oregon is a top spot for taking an adventure while searching for jack-o’-lantern fodder. Try DD Ranch with a great pumpkin patch as well as a hay maze and petting zoo, or Smith Rock Ranch with a giant corn maze, pony rides and more. Both are located near the towering spires of Smith Rock State Park, which is lit up to perfection at this time of year. Find many more across the state in this roundup.

Bonus: It’s not just pumpkins that are the prize in autumn. Oregon is home to some amazing corn mazes that make for fun-filled adventures all season long. Or level up and check out these hauntingly cool ghost tours.

Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway by Russ Roca

Scenic Bikeway

For some of the best fall colors, explore Oregon wine country along the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. While the walnut leaves turn golden, the grapevines contrast with bright reds and oranges. Stop in to taste wines along the way.

Bonus: Cycling enthusiasts who’d like to bid farewell to the last Cycle Oregon Classic ride before it sunsets may sign up for a one-day celebration ride along the Three Capes Loop on the North Coast.

Mountain goat by Joe Whittle

Wallowa Mountains

The turning leaves light up with citrus colors in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of the Wallowa Mountains in Eastern Oregon. The crowds have subsided, bugs are few and the crisp temperatures are perfect for short to long hikes in these stunning mountains, often dubbed “Little Switzerland.”

Bonus: Eastern Oregon is just one of Oregon’s regions known for its exceptionally dark skies and pristine conditions for stargazing. Check out a guided stargazing experience or a star party to take it all in.

Crater Lake

Scenic Byway

If pleasure driving is more your style, fall is a wonderful time to enjoy the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. The volcanoes, cinder cones and lava flows look even more otherworldly when surrounded by fall colors. The route leads from Crater Lake National Park through forest and moon-like landscapes all the way to the California border.

Bonus: If you’re a fan of astronomical events, consider staying in Southern Oregon around Oct. 14, 2023 for the annular solar eclipse. Read up on where to find eclipse glasses, what else to do in the area and more.

About The

Celeste Brash
After 15 years in French Polynesia, Celeste Brash now lives in Portland. She’s contributed to over 60 Lonely Planet books and countless articles in outlets such as Islands Magazine, National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel and BBC Travel.

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