With the first day of fall coming up towards the end of September, it’s the perfect time to start getting into the season of fall. Seeking out the vibrant colors in Oregon with kids can be a memorable and educational experience. Here are the top five places to see fall colors in Oregon with your family, each offering a mix of outdoor adventures and opportunities for kids to connect with nature during the season.

1. Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park, often called the “Crown Jewel” of the Oregon State Parks system, is a fantastic place for a family outing. This park is renowned for its stunning waterfalls and lush forests, which come alive with vibrant colors in the fall. The well-maintained trails and the opportunity to see waterfalls up close are a great way to get into the spirit of fall and spend time in nature.

  • Hiking: Silver Falls offers several miles of family-friendly hiking trails, including the famous Trail of Ten Falls, which is a moderate 7.2-mile loop that takes you past multiple waterfalls. Shorter trail options are also available.
  • Picnicking: There are designated picnic areas where you can enjoy a meal surrounded by the beauty of the park.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Keep an eye out for wildlife like deer and various bird species that are active in the fall.

2. Bend and Central Oregon

Central Oregon, including the city of Bend, offers a unique fall foliage experience with its high desert landscapes and aspen, cottonwood, and willow groves. With plenty of family-friendly activities and stunning landscapes, it’s a great destination to take the kids.

  • Deschutes River Trail: The Deschutes River Trail offers easy, scenic walks along the riverbank, with groves of aspen trees that turn brilliant yellow in the fall. It’s perfect for a leisurely family stroll or a bike ride.
  • Smith Rock State Park: While some of the trails at Smith Rock are more challenging, there are also easier paths suitable for families. The park’s striking rock formations and vibrant fall colors make for a memorable experience.
  • Lava River Cave: Explore a lava tube cave near Bend. It’s a unique adventure that kids often find fascinating. Be sure to bring flashlights and warm clothing.

3. Mount Hood Scenic Byway

The Mount Hood Scenic Byway is a picturesque drive that takes you through the stunning fall foliage of the Mount Hood area. Drive along this road for panoramic views of the mountain and surrounding forests. While it’s a drive, not a single destination, there are numerous family-friendly activities along the way.

  • Trillium Lake: Located at the base of Mount Hood, Trillium Lake is a peaceful spot for families. You can take a leisurely stroll around the lake, rent paddleboats, or have a lakeside picnic.
  • Mount Hood Adventure Park: Depending on the season, this adventure park offers activities like ziplining, alpine slides, and mountain biking that are sure to delight kids.
  • Berry Picking: Depending on the timing of your visit, you might find opportunities for berry picking, which can be a fun and tasty family activity.

4. The Oregon Garden

Located in Silverton, The Oregon Garden is a botanical garden that boasts a diverse collection of plants and is particularly lovely during the fall season. It’s an excellent destination for families because of its educational and recreational opportunities.

  • Children’s Garden: The garden features a dedicated Children’s Garden with interactive exhibits, play structures, and activities that are both fun and educational.
  • Trails: There are several miles of easy walking trails suitable for families, where you can explore various themed gardens, including a rose garden and wetlands.
  • Educational Programs: The Oregon Garden often offers seasonal educational programs for kids, so be sure to check their schedule for fall-themed activities.

5. Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is a prime location for witnessing the beauty of fall foliage. The gorge is home to a variety of trees, including maples, oaks, and cottonwoods, which turn brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow in the fall. Multnomah Falls and the Historic Columbia River Highway are excellent spots for leaf-peeping. The Columbia River Gorge is not only a breathtaking destination for fall colors but also offers family-friendly activities and attractions.

  • Multnomah Falls: A visit to Multnomah Falls is a must for families. The short, paved trail leading to the viewing platform is accessible for all ages. Kids will be amazed by the towering waterfall.
  • Hood River Fruit Loop: Explore the Hood River Fruit Loop, a scenic drive that takes you through orchards and farms. Many stops along the loop offer family-friendly activities, including apple picking, pumpkin patches, and corn mazes.
  • Bridge of the Gods: This iconic bridge is fun to walk across and offers spectacular views of the gorge and the fall foliage. It’s a great spot for a family photo.

When visiting these places with kids to enjoy fall colors, remember to check for any seasonal events or activities that may be happening in the area. Additionally, be prepared for changes in weather by dressing in layers and bringing essentials like water, snacks, and comfortable footwear. With these top five family-friendly destinations, you can create lasting memories while immersing yourselves in the beauty of Oregon’s fall foliage.