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Best Places for Fall Colors

Autumn leaves glow gold and crimson in a dozen spots across the West.

Via Readers
Hoyt Arboretum in Portland in fall, image
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Photo: Purestock/Alamy
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Head to Hoyt Arboretum in Portland for spectacular fall foliage and 12 miles of trails.

“The June Lake Loop on Highway 158 near the picturesque town of June Lake, Calif., includes four mountain lakes. During October, the contrast of green meadows, shining water, brilliant aspens, and craggy peaks is stunning. We enjoyed the numerous resorts along the route with great dining and handcrafted beers.” —Sandy Christianson

“There’s nothing like the four-lane Esplanade in Chico, Calif., at this time of year. Along this signature street, giant sycamores blaze in every shade from green to red.” —Ruben Martinez

“A great spot to see the West’s fall colors is Hope Valley, an amazingly serene landscape near South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Just driving through the area calms every nerve in my body. There isn’t much traffic, and there are few people despite the proximity to lakes and ski resorts. The hues on the aspen and dogwood trees stand out without any buildings or residents around.” —Corey Foster

“Go up! In just a short drive to Mount Charleston, west of Las Vegas, you’ll leave behind the desert for an awesome display of autumn foliage.” —Patricia Kabrich

“You can see a multitude of brilliant golds and sunlit yellows flecked with deep reds and rich magentas in Plumas County, Calif. All this is set against the beautiful greens of the mountains. The bonus for me was a stopover for the night in the charming town of Quincy.” —Brian Uyesugi

“High in the foothills of northeastern Utah’s Uinta Mountains is a wonderful place to view the changing leaves. You are only 11⁄2 hours from Salt Lake City but a world away, surrounded by rich colors, the pleasant sounds of nature, and astounding views of the whole valley below.” —David Cox

“Hawthorns, maples, dogwoods, a rare deciduous conifer, and loads of other fall lovelies await at the 189-acre Hoyt Arboretum in Portland. The 6,000 specimens and 12 miles of hiking trails make this a satisfying day trip.” —Brooke Folk

“The Aufderheide, one of the country’s oldest National Scenic Byways, traces 60 miles through the Cascade Range east of Eugene, Ore. Along the way you’ll pass the longest covered bridge in the state (Office Bridge) and an old grove of Douglas firs (Constitution Grove). The two-lane, tree-lined highway follows forks of the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers. Maple leaves drift down like a light rain, then pile in bright patches beside the road.” —Heidi Gaul

“Vernonia, Ore., offers a paved 21-mile path called the Banks-Vernonia State Trail for bikers, walkers, and horseback riders through forests about 30 minutes northwest of Portland. You can take half the route over a railroad trestle bridge and into farmland. The scenery is especially rich in red and orange.” —Linda Doriss

“The top of Harvey Creek Trail, a 2.4-mile path in Dundee, Ore., is a stunning place to watch local vineyards change hue.” —Lanette Smith

“The best thing about driving Oregon’s Historic Columbia River Highway at this time of year is the color play of the native oaks, maples, alders, and ash trees against the backdrop of firs, cedars, hemlocks, larches, and pines.” —Kay Lyn Chase

“Having grown up in the Northeast, every year I feel compelled to go ‘chasing fall.’ I don’t have to go far. Lithia Park in Ashland, Ore., was designed and landscaped to offer a full spectrum of the season. It’s everything I love about autumn in microcosm.” —Emkay Sikora

This article was first published in Fall 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.