Oregon Fall Adventures


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Oregon Fall Adventures


  • Fall foliage at South Falls, Silver Falls State Park.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • South Falls at Sliver Falls State Park.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Upper Deschutes River Trail just upstream from Dillon Falls near Bend.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Fall aspens along the Upper Deschutes River Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Fall aspens along the Upper Deschutes River Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Aspens light up in fall on Steens Mountain.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Steens Mountain aspens.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Autumn views over north Portland from the Maple Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Sunlight streaming through vine maple leaves along the Maple Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Forest Park's Maple Trail is a great place to see fall foliage within Portland.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Fall color in the Columbia River Gorge.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Autum colors of the bigleaf maple.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Green Ridge Lookout.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Western larch (Larix occidentalis) in the fall near Green Ridge Fire Lookout.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • An angler works the Metolius River near Smiling River Campground.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • The Metolius River just north of Allingham Bridge.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Lower Kentucky Falls in autumn.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • North Fork Smith River near Lower Kentucky Falls.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • McDowell Creek above Majestic Falls.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • McDowell Creek below lower McDowell Creek Falls in autumn.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Salmon River near Mount Hood.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • The Clackamas River.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Pup Creek Falls along the Clackamas River Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Riders race down trails off Cascade Lakes Highway near Bend.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • A mountain biker enjoys Bend's Phil's Trail complex.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Descending the Willamette Valley's Dallas Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • A view over the Willamette Valley near the end of the Dallas Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Sourgrass Meadow along the Alpine Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Mountain Bikers will enjoy views like this one of Diamond Peak (8,743 ft) from Oakridge's Alpine Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • A bank reverse feature on the Sandy Ridge Trail near Mount Hood.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • One of the more technical sections of North Fork Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • A mountain biker navigates the Mckenzie River Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • The North Umpqua Trail is a great fall Mountain Bike ride.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Enjoying some scenic riding along the North Umpqua River Trail.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Roosevelt elk at Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Roosevelt elk bulls jostle for dominance during rut at Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Wild Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tschawutscha) spawning in late summer.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Canada geese (Branta canadensis) at Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Dock crabbing in Winchester Bay.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • The main information center at Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • The Portland Memorial Mausoleum mural viewed from Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Dock crabbing in Winchester Bay.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Dungeness crab is an Oregon delicacy and relatively easy to catch during fall.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Crabs must meet Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife size regulations to keep.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Clammers in Waldport's Alsea Bay.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Softshell clam (Mya arenaria) found in Alsea Bay.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Kayakers with crab pots on Netarts Bay.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Clammers out on Netarts Bay.- Oregon Fall Adventures
  • Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) on a sand bar in Netarts Bay.- Oregon Fall Adventures

Summer may be Oregon’s peak outdoor season, but it’s far from Oregon’s only outdoor season. For many Oregonians, fall is the quintessential time to be outside experiencing Oregon’s abundant outdoor bounty. With fewer crowds, generally mild weather and a refreshed palate of autumn hues coloring the landscape, what’s not to love about an Oregon fall? That's why we are thrilled to share Oregon Fall Adventures: the first video in a three-part series highlighting the incredible diversity of outdoor recreation opportunities awaiting you in Oregon. 

Created in partnership with Travel Oregon, Outdoor Project, Outlive CreativeOregon State Parks and Oregon Department of Fish and WildlifeOregon Fall Adventures takes viewers on a cinematic sampling of fall adventure possibilities in the Beaver State, from enjoying some of Oregon’s best fall foliage destinations to racing down singletrack in one of Oregon's premier mountain biking regions. As a season known for it’s active wildlife, fall in Oregon wouldn't be complete without an encounter with some of the state’s iconic natives. Following suit, Oregon Fall Adventures highlights opportunities to enjoy Oregon wildlife in their peak season.

Oregon Fall Foliage

Silver Falls State Park. Photo by Dan Sherman.

Perhaps nothing better represents fall than the annual turning of autumn leaves, when the greens of deciduous trees give way to bright yellows, rusty ochres and fiery reds. This colorful display marks the inevitable shortening of days that coincides with the sun heading south and the transition to winter. For a state well known for it's sea of evergreen forests and high desert, Oregon’s fall foliage array is surprisingly vast: varieties of maples, alders, willows and aspens light up against backdrops of deep coniferous greens and golden-brown landscapes. 

Two of Oregon's most impressive settings for fall foliage offer very different but equally stunning scenes. Silver Falls State Park in the Cascade Foothills is home to a waterfall-laden landscape. During fall, colorful bigleaf and vine maples and red alders frame up waterfalls, and pop among old-growth Douglas fir and western hemlock.

In the remote southeast corner of the state, high on Steens Mountain, resides one of Oregon’s largest colonies of quacking aspen. Steens Mountain aspens put on a brilliant fall show, first lighting up yellow, then turning to deeper oranges and reds before their leaves fall. Steens Mountain aspens typically start to turn and peak before Oregon’s other fall foliage regions, often beginning as early as late September. 

So what is it that causes deciduous leaves to change color and eventually fall? The U.S. Forest Service tells us that annual leaf turning is triggered most significantly by the lengthening of nights. Once the darkness of autumn nights reaches a threshold duration, cells at the intersection of the leaf and stem begin to divide and block the transportation of important sugars and minerals that keep leaves healthy during the growing season.  The chlorophyll production that keeps leaves green is also blocked at the leaf-stem node during this time, and burnt hues reveal themselves once chlorophyll replenishment stops. Later, the same layer of cells that blocked the transportation of nutrients and chlorophyll to the leaf becomes increasingly brittle and eventually breaks, causing leaves to “fall."  Temperature, sunlight, moisture, food supply, and longer autumn nights all have an impact on the vibrancy and longevity of fall foliage displays, and these variables also impact the timing of fall foliage from year to year. Scientists are just beginning to learn about how climate change is impacting autumn and fall foliage.

Experiencing Oregon’s autumn color is an accessible fall activity to just about everyone, one that is easily paired with a scenic drive, nature walk or even high-energy mountain bike ride. Peak Fall foliage typically lasts from mid October into early/mid November. The following is a list of some of Oregon's best locations for taking in autumn color (Note: the Columbia River Gorge was omitted this year due to the recent Eagle Creek Fire and related area trail closures).

Fall is for Mountain Biking

Alpine Trail in Oakridge. Photo by Aron Bosworth.

Whether you chalk it up to a drop in temperature during fall, better traction on the dirt following the first rains, or simply less traffic on the trails, it turns out fall in Oregon is perfect for mountain biking. Before the sogginess and snow of winter hits, Oregon has a window for pristine riding conditions that beckon both local and visiting riders alike.

Oregon’s mountain biking notoriety has grown in recent years thanks to trail network improvements at locations like Oakridge, Black Rock, Mount Hood and Bend. An a couple of Oregon's river trails, like those that parallel the McKenzie and North Umpqua rivers, offer bucket list multi-day rides. During fall, Oregon's mountain biking trails become fall foliage destinations in their own right. The diverse variety of mountain biking in Oregon provides options for all abilities and interests, from 5,000-foot downhills to easy-going scenic fire roads that allow you to take in the view while you ride.  

One of the Oregon's top mountain biking destinations that offers a diversity of trails catering to all riding levels is located in the heart of Oregon in and around Bend. Nestled in the rain shadow of the Central Oregon Cascades, Bend’s mountain views, juniper scents, and high desert weather make for an enticing riding locale. Between Bend trails and the trail networks located off the Cascade Lakes Highway that leads up to Mount Bachelor, there is something here for all types of riders.

Ready for an autumn ride? Check out some of these premier Oregon mountain biking options:

Peak Season for Wildlife

Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area. Photo by Derek Gaumer.

Oregon is home to a unique mix of wildlife, and there’s no better season for wildlife viewing than fall. It’s no coincidence that fall is prime fishing and hunting season; a time when wildlife is predictably active and on the move. 

At Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area, a 3,000-acre wildlife refuge located in Oregon’s Coast Range, the breeding season for Roosevelt elk is well underway. Managed by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Jewell Meadows provides a safe haven and a year-round food source for the roughly 200 elk that can be found grazing here. Jewell Meadows is an ideal place for the public to come see elk in the wild. During the rut, which occurs in early fall, elk are often viewable in the early morning and evening hours out in the meadows. However, your best bet for seeing elk is from November through February when the elk are fed by ODFW to help keep them in the area. Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area is open to the public year round, with elk feeding opportunities open to the public in the winter.

Being coastal, Oregon is home to a unique mix of both land and sea-based wildlife. Perhaps no animal better represents the land-sea connection than salmon, which bring a lifetime of nutrients upstream as they spawn in Oregon rivers and their tributaries. During fall, following the first major rains of the season, Oregon’s rivers swell and experience salmon runs throughout much of the state. Tributaries near fish hatcheries are great places to observe spawning salmon.

For a more hands-on experience, fall also provides the ideal time for crabbing. With a valid shellfish license, a little bit of know-how, and some simple crabbing equipment, just about anyone can enjoy a successful crabbing experience in of Oregon's many coastal bays.  Oregon’s most abundant species, Dungeness crab, also happens to be a delicious coastal delicacy. The best time to catch Dungeness crab is during fall, when the crabs tend to be more "filled out" with high quality meat.

Crabbing on the Oregon coast. Photo by Tyson Gillard.

The state’s coastal bays provide the perfect setting for a crabbing adventure. Crabbing can be done as an outfitted activity, like you’ll find at Kelly’s Brighton Marina on Nehalem Bay, or in do-it-yourself fashion with your own gear. Gear can be rented or purchased at shops up and down the Oregon coast. Crabbers should make sure to familiarize themselves with Oregon’s current shellfish regulations and obtain a shellfish license before setting out. Recreational crabbing is open year round in bays, along beaches, tide pools, piers and jetties, and there is with a short window from October 16 through November 30 when crabbing is closed out in the ocean.

Ready to go see some wildlife, or perhaps haul in some Dungeness crab? Consider one of the following locations for an Oregon fall wildlife adventure:

Fall in Oregon is the quintessential outdoor season. It’s a time that rewards those who tune in to the rhythms of nature. It’s a time of year when conditions on the trail can be at their prime, yet you may have the trail to yourself. We hope Oregon Fall Adventures inspires you to get outdoors in Oregon this fall. Learn more about the activities in Oregon Fall Adventures in the featured adventures below and by visiting traveloregon.com, oregonstateparks.org and myodfw.com.

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Published in collaboration with Travel Oregon

So you're interested in Oregon. Chances are you're ready to hike the trails, sip craft beer and chow down on a farm-fresh feast. But let’s not get too caught up in the hype: When you dig a bit deeper, you learn there’s even more to this wild and wonderful state. Start exploring and plan your next trip at Travel Oregon.

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