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It almost seems a rite of passage – fall foliage viewing. Forget the tall, majestic evergreens, pines, and firs that blanket the mountains and hills of the Pacific Northwest. We’re looking for deciduous trees, with mammoth-size maple leaves and other colorful leaves, creating a tapestry of red, yellow, orange, and even brown. We’re looking for the best fall colors in Washington state!
From unique mountain towns with views of Mount Rainier to Manito Park, Washington is home to amazing fall foliage. I’m an expert in fall foliage – one of the reasons we moved to Washington state was because I love fall foliage so much! We constantly explore Spokane and the surrounding area for the best fall color displays, and these places have some of the best opportunities to see amazing fall colors.
According to the Fall Foliage Prediction Map hosted by SmokyMountains.com, Washington state can expect peak colors to start appearing around September 25. From September 25 to October 2, 2023, you’ll see amazing fall colors throughout the whole state of Washington – and some areas may even be past peak by the beginning of October!
If you’re thinking of planning a trip to Washington state, the fall is one of the absolute best times. Here’s what you can expect to see during fall in the Pacific Northwest.
Autumn Tours Around Washington State
Prefer to take a guided tour throughout Washington state to see the autumn foliage? There’s nothing better than getting a guided tour throughout some of Washington state’s best national parks and towns. After all, everything from transportation to tickets are taken care of for you, meaning all you have to do is bring your camera and enjoy the view!
Here are some of the best fall tours around Washington state to see fall foliage.
This full day tour leaves from Seattle and takes you Mt. Rainier, including Christine Falls and Narada Falls. You’ll get a tour and hike with an expert guide, who will show you the old-growth forests and wildflower meadows in the park, which are particularly vibrant in the fall!
This tour books quickly, as people give it high reviews for the knowledgeable guides, beautiful views, and more. Book your tour here!
Like your tours paired with a little wine? So do I! This tour will take you through Snoqualmie Falls, which looks incredible during the fall, and to two estate-boutique wineries. On this sightseeing tour, you’ll see the Cascade foothills, flower farms, plus the beautiful wineries themselves.
This half day tour gets high praise for the knowledgeable guide, good recommendations, and excellent wineries.
This is a can’t miss tour if you want to pair a fall foliage visit along with a wine tour. Book your tour today!
No fall foliage tour recommendation would be complete without mentioning a Leavenworth tour! This full day tour starts in Seattle and takes you directly to Leavenworth, although you’ll of course get to see the incredible landscape as you pass by Woodinville, Monroe, and Bellevue. There are even opportunities to stop, stretch, and take pictures!
Upon arriving in Leavenworth, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the charming Bavarian town on your own, try out Leavenworth’s classic German fare, and take pictures of the vibrant landscape throughout the town. On your return, you’ll stop at Deception Pass Falls – the perfect cap to your fall foliage tour.
The Best Places in Washington State to Peep Fall Foliage
Known for its Oktoberfest and Christmas celebrations, the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, high among the Cascades, is the perfect spot for fall foliage viewing. Hike nearby trails for close-up views of red, orange, and yellow leaves. If you’re looking for one of the top places to see fall colors in Washington state, Leavenworth is a must see!
Waterfront Park offers outstanding views, as does Lake Wenatchee. With almost 500 acres of wilderness offering fall colors, imagine the crisp reflections of the colorful trees on the cool lake water. A drive along Icicle Road also features breathtaking scenes.
The drive from Stevens Pass to Leavenworth (roughly 104 miles) is also a can’t miss if you’re looking for scenic fall drives in Washington state. Head through scenic Tumwater Canyon to see blazing colors of changing maples, dogwoods, and cottonwoods. Don’t forget to visit Leavenworth during the Autumn Leaf Festival, from September 22 to 24, 2023.
Leavenworth is also on our list of the top romantic getaways in Washington State!
Yakima River Canyon
Known for its vineyards and apple orchards, the Yakima River Valley is a natural for fall foliage viewing, and nowhere is it better showcased than Yakima River Canyon. With more than 5,000 acres of sagebrush, grasslands, meadows and woods, walks along trails at the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy feature amazing colors, popping out against the area’s backdrop.
Along your walk, you’ll find sumac and lichens – plants that grow on trees and rocks – whose colors are enhanced during autumn. Each canyon trail provides unique views.
Whidbey Scenic Isle Way
Your fall excursion along Whidbey Scenic Isle Way begins with a drive across the magnificent Deception Pass Bridge, rising high above Puget Sound. You’ll want to park and photograph the scenery (or just visually soak it) before entering Whidbey Island. Enjoy the drive south to Clinton with beautiful views of fall colors and nature.
Only an hour from Seattle, a Whidbey Island visit is truly special with unique shops and boutiques in small towns, where you’ll feel like you’re starring in your own Hallmark movie. It’s also one of the best coastal towns in Washington state to visit!
Adventure enthusiasts will enjoy views from the ziplines at Northwest Canopy Tours, where you’ll fly high among colorful leaves and amazing sights.
Columbia River Gorge
Imagine Native Americans, fur traders, and the Lewis and Clark expedition navigating their boats along the Columbia River. Now, add the majestic colors of the fall season and you have the makings of a fabulous fall foliage viewing experience.
Whether you view the colors by boat or along the Cape Horn Loop Trail, the Columbia River Gorge offers a grand experience. The loop is about seven miles round trip, but can be managed however you’d like.
Located near Lyle, the Klickitat Trail runs about 30 miles along a converted rail line, primarily following the Klickitat River. Along with maple trees, the trail is dry and dusty compared to others. However, the scenery is stunning.
Whether it’s the rose gardens of Point Defiance Park or the stunning views of Puget Sound along Five Mile Road, fall foliage in Tacoma offers a delicious taste of nature. A walk through the Japanese Garden at the park, with its manicured bonsai trees and succulent maple trees, seemingly transports you to another part of the world.
With more than 600 trees over almost 30 acres, Wright Park is an island of nature in the middle of the city. Dedicated long ago to the city, provided it was maintained as a park, more than 100 species of trees have been added over the years, along with a series of sculptures. A small pond, popular with ducks and geese, offers an excellent spot to sit and admire the changing colors in the trees. The W.W. Seymour Conservatory offers a respite to check out special exhibits of plants and flowers.
With its proximity to Seattle yet smaller town vibe, it’s easy to see why Tacoma is one of the best places to retire in Washington state.
With yellow-gold dotting the landscape, one of the most beautiful views of a Washington fall day takes place near Snoqualmie Falls. About 30 minutes east of Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls is a great area to hike the trails leading to the river at the bottom of the falls.
Along the way, you’ll find changing colors and scenery. There’s a reason the television series Twin Peaks filmed here. Soak in the fall colors as you traverse the area’s roads, including a stop at Twede’s Cafe in North Bend. Enjoy a cup of coffee and slice of pie during your stop.
Whether it’s the Aspen with its yellow leaves at Stevens Pass or reds in Tumwater Canyon, fall leafing along the Cascade Loop provides a beautiful day trip experience. Along the drive, you’ll view apple orchards and vineyards, which are perfect signs for roadside markets or maybe a winery or two to pick up something for home.
A stop in Leavenworth offers an opportunity for an authentic German meal, along with a visit to the Nutcracker Museum and a Christmas store. Driving through the Cascade Mountains features beautiful patchwork of evergreen and trees with colorful leaves.
If you love hiking and colorful larches, definitely add Maple Pass Loop in the North Cascades to your fall foliage tour. This 7.2 mile hike offers vibrant yellow larches in the fall and lake vistas year round. You will need a Northwest Forest Pass to park.
At about 6,500 feet, Chinook Pass offers a menagerie of colors, from the red of maple trees to purple and orange of huckleberries. Soak in the yellow hue of larch. The drive along Highway 410, with its hairpin curves, features a mixture of evergreens along with the other trees.
You’ll want to rake in the view of the region, stretching for miles, at the top of Chinook Pass. Explore trails for a closer experience with nature.
Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area – Olympia
Orange and red from a variety trees, including maple, fill the trails and byways of Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area near Olympia. Explore the trails, such as the Overlook Trail, taking you along the bay, with the colors of the season reflecting on the water like you’re staring in a mirror.
On a beautiful, sunny day, with blue in the sky, the fall colors pop like a Norman Rockwell painting. While there, visit the blue heron rookery for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing the handsome birds in their natural environment.
Mount Rainier National Park
It seems like almost every fall color possible makes an appearance at Mount Rainier National Par, with peak foliage lasting into November. From larches’ yellow to the red of maple, as well as huckleberry bush’s purple, Mount Rainier shines brightly during the fall.
With opportune viewing near Paradise, Sunrise, and Reflection lakes, fall foliage makes for a great drive along the mountain route. Hiking trails in the national park will take you along hills and spots, which offer amazing views of the mountains and valleys.
The best hike to see fall foliage is Naches Peak Loop, a 3.2 mile hike offering low-lying huckleberry bushes and vine maples that carpet the mountain with deep fall hues.
Bloedel Reserve – Bainbridge Island
Located on the grounds of a former estate, Bloedel Reserve includes about a dozen easily-navigable trails, from a Japanese garden and house to a marsh. Along your walk, you’ll find trees with leaves transitioning to red, yellow, and brown. Explore the Glen as you take in acres and acres of trees, brush, and plants. Located on Bainbridge Island, Bloedel Reserve is the perfect botanical to visit for fall foliage.
Manito Park – Spokane
With five gardens, Spokane’s Manito Park is a great spot to spend a day in nature, such as its rose garden. For a true fall experience, stroll through the Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Gardens, with its maple trees providing protection over koi ponds.
The red and orange colors of the area’s trees offer picturesque views of fall. You’ll also want to enjoy a drive or walk along Manito Boulevard, soaking in the beauty of the colorful trees. Personally, I think Manito is one of the most beautiful places to see fall colors in Washington state!
Love hiking in Spokane? One of our favorite trails, Iller Creek Trail in Spokane, Washington, is a 5 mile loop where you can see cottonwoods, aspens, and more ignite with color in the fall.
Hoh Rainforest – Forks
For a different fall foliage view, visit the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park. The temperate rainforest is known for its moss trail, located about a mile from the visitors center. A spruce trail is located about 1.5 miles farther along the road.
Moss hanging off branches of trees towering high above you provides an eerie, yet soothing feeling as you explore the trail. Its beauty may be difficult to challenge. After your walk through the moss rainforest, head over to the spruce trail for another impressive view of the national park.
Washington Park Arboretum Loop Trail – Seattle
If you’re looking for fall colors in Washington state that’s a little closer to the city, you won’t go wrong with the 2.5 mile urban walk of Washington Park Arboretum Loop Trail in Seattle. The Arboretum offers a map and mobile map highlighting the most vibrant fall trees, including mountain ash, witch hazel, and more.
Where to See Fall Colors in Washington State
Whether you prefer mountains, forests, or just walking through a city park, Washington is packed with amazing fall viewing opportunities. As you plan your outing, with peak season coming in mid- to late-September, bring a camera to help you with the memories of the beauty you’ll witness this leafing season.
Ready to continue your Washington state tour? Check out our article on the best Washington state bucket list!