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10 Great Places to See Fall Colors in Washington State

10 Great Places to See Fall Colors in Washington State

Washington State is well know for it’s evergreen mountain views and open spaces. But, it is also a wonderful place to enjoy fall foliage. We haved searched for all the fall colors in Washington State and these are the best places to embrace autumn in all her glory.

During the months of September to November, fall in Washington State shows off its colors in these special places that become painted in the glorious crimsons, umbers, and goldenrods. These are the best places to enjoy Mother Nature’s autumnal show.

Fall in Washington- Best Places to See Fall Colors in Washington State

1. Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park in the autumn

Washington national parks are great places to enjoy fall color. Mount Rainer National Park is rich with color in its meadows and fields right before the first snowfall in mid-October to November.

Families will enjoy the one mile trails in the Sunrise area. Children will be delighted by the free Junior Rangers program located in the visitor centers. Stop by one of the centers to receive the activity booklet and stickers.

While in search of fall colors in the park you will find most of them between Sunrise and Chinook Pass. In Mount Rainier be on the lookout for the huckleberry bushes and larch, they will be providing those gorgeous fall colors.

2. Rinehart Riverfront Park and Yakima River Canyon

Yakima River in a nice place to enjoy fall in Washington State

Rinehart Park is in located in Ellensburg along the Yakima River. This narrow park offers an excellent place to see the fall colors in Washington State.

The park hosts a boat launch, grassy picnic area, and an off-leash dog park. The paved path takes families through a sea of color.

The shrubs and bushes take part in the coloring of the park, it’s like walking through a patchwork quilt! The path is also a great place for bike riding along among the fall scene.

In between Ellensburg and and Yakima on State Route 821, you can also enjoy a nice drive through Yakima River Canyon and see the changing trees along the river.

Keep your eyes out for birds of prey like hawks, eagles, and falcons. This canyon is home to densest population of nesting raptors in the state!

3. Leavenworth

Leavenworth is a great destination for enjoying fall colors in Washington State

The Bavarian village of Leavenworth is surrounded by the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle. The gorgeous and crisp colors of the surrounding trees are dripping in oranges, yellows, and reds!

The village looks like something out of a fairy tale. The touristy hamlet is filled with adorable shops and restaurants that will make you feel as if you have been transported to Germany. And you definitely want to make time to enjoy a Leavenworth Oktoberfest!

The Leavenworth area begins to see the colors change in early October and the colors are in full swing throughout the month. Lake Wenatchee and Tumwater Canyon are two great leaf peeping spots in the region.

The autumn trees serve as the backdrop to the waterfall over Tumwater Dam, which is a sight you will not want to miss!

4. Olympic Peninsula Near Port Angeles

Lake Crescent during the fall
Photo via Visit Port Angeles

In the Olympic Peninsula the fall colors are peering through the evergreens. The snow-capped mountains make for a lovely setting for your family to explore. The open spaces between the forests are where you will find the most dramatic fall colors in Washington State.

Morse Creek Hill offers a great path for touring with a bicycle and Lake Crescent is excellent for catching colorful leaves and the bonus of a beautiful waterfall hike nearby to Marymere Falls.

Another great place to spy fall color on the Olympic Penninsula is along the Elwa River near Port Angeles. There is a bike and pedestrian trail along the water near where Hwy 101 crosses the river.

Consider visiting the Olympic Game Park while in the area. The facility is home to wild animals that were once animal actors for Disney films!

Find places to stay in Port Angeles while exploring the Olympic Penninsula.

5. Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest in the autumn
“Mossy Trees” by jeffk 

The Hoh Rainforest is located in Olympic National Park. The trees here are dripping with moss and vines. While much of this forest is evergreen, the vines turn colors and the maple trees along the Hoh River become a scarlet red. Even the moss of the trees will start to show color!

The color changes in the Hoh Rainforest are best seen in October. This is also a popular time for mushrooms to appear on the forest floor. The Hall of Mosses Trail and the Spruce Nature Trail are two easy hikes for families to enjoy the scenery.

Olympic National Park was established by Teddy Roosevelt to protect the native elk. Fall is when the male elk are busy fighting for dominance and bugling (loud elk calls) can be held throughout the forest. The best time to see the elk is at twilight in the river valley.

Explore more of the park. Here are our favorite things to do in Olympic National Park.

6. North Cascades National Park

Heather Maples Pass in North Cascades National Park
Photo via Flickr/Sean O’Neill

North Cascades National Park is located in the northern part of Washington. This lesser known park offers fall colors starting in mid-September and is just 3-4 hours from Seattle.

While in search for colorful foliage, families can enjoy hiking, backpacking, and water activities. The Cascade Loop is a great road trip to enjoy as the aspens turn yellow and the mountain ash turn.

The nearby small towns and farms surrounding the Skagit River remain quiet through the fall unlike many some of the other bustling places featuring known for fall colors in Washington State. Consider visiting the Cascadian Farm stand where you can buy sandwiches, produce, or grab an ice cream cone.

The 3.8-mile Cutthroat Lake Trail is near the park’s boundary and a great option for families who want to get outisde and enjoy autumn. If you are looking for more of a challenge to accompany the brilliant colors, check out the Heather-Maple Pass Loop.

7. Washington Park Arboretum

Fall colors in Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle

You don’t have to leave the city to enjoy fall colors in Washington State. Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum is a favorite among families.

The park offers a variety of ways to see the fall colors. Families will enjoy biking, taking strolls, or sitting for family photos. The park’s Japanese Garden hosts the Maple Festival in mid-October, featuring self-guided tours of the leaves and a scavenger hunt!

See more of the Emerald City. Here are the best things to do in Seattle with kids.

Nearby Accommodations: Located in Seattle, families will enjoy the Staypineapple at the Waterfront Hotel’s family centric considerations!

8. Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle Center

Chihuly Garden and glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass is easily one of my favorite places to visit in Seattle but during the fall, the outdoor grounds are especially magical. I just love the way the glass sculptures contrast with the vibrant autumn foliage.

While in Seattle you can head up to the top of the Space Needle and see the fall colors of Seattle from above. You will also want to stroll the grounds of Seattle Center in between visits to the museums on property. There are mature deciduous trees throughout the campus.

9. Snoqualmie’s Rockwood Farms and Snoqualmie Falls

Rockwood Farms is one of the best places to enjoy fall colors in Washington state.

A private farm in Snoqualmie has gained Instagram fame thanks to its driveway lined with amazingly red trees during mid-October. You can book photography sessions at the private Rockwood Farms or choose to stay for a day or two in one of the farm’s apartments.

While in Snoqualmie, you should definitely also make time to visit Snoqualmie Falls. This stunner of a waterfall is beautiful no matter the season. The trees surrounding the falls are peppered with brilliant yellow in the autumn, and the hike to the lower falls viewpoint is nice this time of year as well.

10. Olympia

Yashiro Japanese Garden in Olympia
Yashiro Japanese Garden

Washington’s state capitol is beautiful year-round, but in the fall, the foliage really begins to make everything pop.

One of my favorite places to enjoy fall foliage in Olympia is Squaxin Park (formerly Priest Point Park). This park has lovely trails that wind through mature forests with maple, oak, and evergreen trees. There are also covered picnic areas, a cute double-sided bench swing that you and the kids won’t be able to resist, and incredible views of the Puget Sound.

Another small but special place to enjoy fall colors is at the Yashiro Japanese Garden. This small (and free!) garden is a great place to take pictures by the changing Japanese maple trees reflecting off the park’s pond.

The Capitol Campus in Olympia is home to a variety of trees, including maples, oaks, and sweet gums, which transform into brilliant shades of red, orange, and gold during the fall. The campus is open to the public, and you can stroll through the lawns and pathways to admire the colorful leaves.

Recently, I fell in love with Tumwater Falls Park, which is located next to the old Olympia Brewery. There is a trail that goes past a salmon hatchery as it follows the Deschutes River . The fall colors along the riverbanks are very lovely.

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Elizabeth Bickford