Seattle is surrounded by mountains, forests, and water, which makes it an excellent destination for a fall leaf-peeping excursion. Despite the dominance of evergreens in the area, the city also boasts a large variety of deciduous trees such as Japanese Maple and Western Red Cedar, which change color beautifully.
Best time to see fall colors in Seattle
The prime period to enjoy fall colors in Seattle is October, although the exact timing depends on the weather. In some years, it's possible to see the first foliage displays as early as late September, and sometimes the leaves stay on the trees until Thanksgiving, in late November.
Fall colors in Seattle
Seattle parks are your best choice to absorb the colors of the season in the city. Over 485 parks offer a variety of landscapes: from beaches to lush forests and exquisite formal gardens. Some of the top places to see include Discovery Park, Washington Park Arboretum, and Kubota Garden.
Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest urban oasis, which occupies about 534 ac (216 ha) on Magnolia Bluff. It has tidal beaches, picturesque cliffs, forests, meadows, and sand dunes. There are many areas with scenic fall foliage and picnic tables for a pleasant weekend outdoors, and also 11 mi (18 km) of hiking trails.
Washington Park Arboretum
Seattle Arboretum fall colors are another must-see. Go straight to the Japanese Garden at the south entrance where Japanese and Asiatic maples create stunning color combinations.
The smaller Kubota Garden is another beautiful nook, full of Japanese maples. Relax in this perfectly architectured area with a waterfall and a fish pond. There are also free fall foliage public tours to showcase the most beautiful areas in the park.
Fall colors near Seattle
You can also find numerous scenic places near Seattle. Some of the eye-catching spots are hidden within Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest north of the city. To the northwest, you'll explore the treasures of Olympic National Park's fall. Besides Leavenworth east of Seattle has reserved several gems for you too.
Mount Baker and Snoqualmie National Forest offer quintessential North Cascades scenery with lush evergreen forests dotted with streaks of yellow, bronze, and gold. Your fall journey can start with Mt. Baker Scenic Byway, one of the most beautiful roads in Washington. It begins west of Bellingham and ends near the Mount Baker Ski Area at the breathtaking Artist Point. You would enjoy the beautiful views of the Nooksack River Valley, Nooksack Falls, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and Heather Meadows. The distance from Seattle is 132 mi (212 km).
Olympic National Park
Olympic Peninsula is one of the top destinations for fall colors in Washington. The journey from Seattle takes two hours by car (88 mi or 121 km). Once you get to the peninsula, head to the Olympic Discovery Trail. The path is designated for bikers and runners and showcases spectacular fall foliage displays along Morse Creek. Lake Crescent and Marymere Falls is another must-see spot, where brilliant foliage looks flashy against turquoise water. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent to explore the park up close.
Leavenworth is the premier leaf-peeping destination in Washington due to its fairy-tale landscape and the abundance of vine maples and cottonwood trees that bring lots of red and orange into the picture. Starting from late September, the Bavarian village surrounded by Cascade mountains dresses up in golden and scarlet hues. Relax in the town's Waterfront Park, which looks simply stunning. Leavenworth can be reached from Seattle in about two hours by car.
Seattle fall colors map
Have a look at the Seattle fall colors map to get the whole picture of locations in and near the city. Also, you can book accommodations in the vicinity to make your visit as comfortable as possible. Plan your getaway in advance, as fall is a popular time in Seattle.