Best time to travel to Washington

Washington Fall Colors

Despite being called the Evergreen State, Washington has plenty of beautiful fall foliage

Best time: October

Washington Fall Colors
Washington Fall Colors
Washington Fall Colors
Washington Fall Colors
Washington Fall Colors
Cedar Creek Grist Mill, Woodland, Washington

Located in the Pacific Northwest, Washington boasts a diverse landscape consisting of fjords, mountain ranges, glaciers, rainforests, and semi-arid regions. You won't be disappointed if you choose to explore the state during the change of seasons. Despite being called "evergreen," Washington has plenty of yellow, orange, and red during fall, and its natural landscapes look simply stunning. Fall foliage in the eastern part of the state appears in late September. However, the most vibrant colors and massive foliage displays can be seen in October. The first half of October is the best for fall foliage drives in the mountains of Western Washington. The second half is the best time to view foliage spots at lower elevations. Sometimes the fall foliage season can stretch into November. However, in cases of heavy rain, leaves can fall off quite early.


Leavenworth is the premier leaf peeping destination in Washington due to a 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. Take the scenic Apple Capital Loop Trail along the Columbia River or head to Tumwater Canyon. Drive on Highway 2, west of Leavenworth, for views of lush forests dotted with yellow and red. Also, make sure to add magnificent Lake Wenatchee to your fall colors itinerary. In October, Leavenworth usually hosts the Autumn Leaf Festival. Several activities take place in the town and its Waterfront Park, which also looks stunning.

Columbia River Gorge

October is the best time to visit Columbia River Gorge, located on the border between Washington and Oregon. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is the prime destination when it comes to fall colors and stunning views. Stop by Beacon State Park and Lake Ann. View some postcard-worthy waterfalls. Take a drive on the Lewis and Clark Trail Scenic Highway to enjoy some waterfront views.

Mount Baker

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest offers 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, starting west of Bellingham and ending near the Mount Baker Ski Area. Enjoy the beautiful views of the Nooksack River Valley, Nooksack Falls, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and Heather Meadows.

Olympic National Park

Olympic Penninsula is a perfect leaf peeping destination in Washington. Head to the Olympic Discovery Trail, a designated path for bikers and runners that exposes spectacular fall foliage displays along the 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.

Practical info

When is the best time to enjoy the fall foliage season in Washington?

The eastern part of Washington begins its fall foliage season in late September, which is generally followed by a more vibrant display of colors in October. Western Washington's mountains are the ideal spot to take in colorful drives in mid-October, whereas the latter part of the month is the top time for visiting lower elevation areas to view the foliage display. Show more

Where can I find the most vibrant colors and massive foliage displays in Washington?

Washington displays the autumnal colors all over the state, but the most impressive and massive foliage displays are located at Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and in Leavenworth. Leavenworth is an Alpine village encompassed entirely by vine maple and cottonwood trees that impart red and orange shades to the display. Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest's evergreen forest, decorated with streaks of yellow, bronze, and gold, offers a typical North Cascades landscape. Show more

What is Leavenworth, and why is it the premier leaf peeping destination in Washington?

Leavenworth is a village located in the Cascade Mountains and designed in the Bavarian style. The location is the top spot for leaf peeping in Washington due to the abundance of vine maple and cottonwood trees present that produce stunning red and orange hues. Visitors can take the scenic Apple Capital Loop Trail, or drive along West Highway 2 to view the lovely yellow and red forests that dot the landscape. Show more

What activities can be experienced during the Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth?

October is when the Autumn Leaf Festival occurs in Leavenworth. The festival's high point is the Grand Parade, which involves the display of creatively adorned floats with autumn leaves as the main component. Among the other activities are live music, an Oktoberfest event, and an art & crafts fair. Wine and cider tasting facilities can also be found in the vicinity. Show more

Are there any activities other than leaf peeping to do during the fall season in Olympic Peninsula?

The Olympic Peninsula has many other engaging fall activities beyond leaf peeping. Visitors can go to the Olympic Discovery Trail, which offers a dedicated path for bikers and runners and stunning displays of fall foliage along the Morse Creek. Lake Crescent and Marymere Falls, among other must-see spots, provide brilliant foliage against a turquoise water backdrop. Besides fishing or hiking trails nearby, visitors can rent kayaks or canoes to explore the park up close. Show more

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