When the evenings turn cool and the days get shorter, the river banks and mountain-sides in Washington’s Playground come alive with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. Typically starting in late Sept and lasting through the end of October, the area’s many trees from river-looming oaks and maples to high-mountain Larches, put on a show all their own.
While the autumn leaf colors can be seen all over the area, there are a few choice locations that offer the best views and photo opportunities. Below is our list of the Top 5 Places to View Fall Colors in Washington’s Playground.
#1 Blackbird Island – Located in downtown Leavenworth, accessed via Waterfront Park, Blackbird Island offers several gravel and dirt trails that meander either along the Wenatchee River banks or through the center of the island offering plenty of fall color views. Along the Wenatchee River, look out towards the iconic Wedge Mountain and Icicle Ridge to see patches of bright yellow larches and vibrant red maples. Blackbird Island itself is also home to a number of colorful varieties sure to put you in that Autumn state of mind.
#2 Tumwater Canyon along Stevens Pass Highway – The drive along Highway 2 between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth, also known as Stevens Pass Highway, is definitely one of the most beautiful stretches of road in all of Washington State when the leaves are changing to their autumn hues. With high towering peaks above and the roaring Wenatchee River below, we suggest pulling over several times to enjoy all the natural beauty. There are multiple pull-offs along Highway 2 that offer amazing views and photo opportunities to capture both the river and the colorful trees, including a couple calmer sections which provide mirror-like reflection pools, such as Lake Josephine next to The Alps Candy Store.
#3 Lake Wenatchee – Halfway between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth sits Lake Wenatchee. This state park boasts of 489-acres with over 12,000 feet of waterfront, offering beaches and boats docks perfect for spending an autumn afternoon or evening. With expansive views and calm water horizons, Lake Wenatchee offers some of the best photo opps in the area, while staying easily accessible for the whole family with parking close by. Enjoy lunch on one of the covered picnic areas and listen to the rustling of the leaves flutter by.
#4 Lake Chelan & Stehekin – Farther up the Columbia Valley, the turquoise blue waters of Lake Chelan contrast beautifully with the bright fall colors on all the surrounding hillsides. Early in the morning catch the mirror-like reflections on the calm lake waters before lake traffic brings the ripples and waves. The small village of Stehekin is located at the farthest point of the lake and is only accessible by boat or sea plane. Talk about a calming, charming, and majestic autumn leaf experience, Stehekin offers it all.
#5 Apple Capital Loop Trail – If you’re looking for a casual stroll, or bike ride, this paved greenway offers a 10-mile loop providing fantastic views of the Columbia Valley, the city of Wenatchee, and the surrounding hillsides from both sides of the Columbia River. There are a number of public parks along the trail with picnic areas, works of art, and other things to do including Pybus Public Market. This is a great family friendly spot to get some exercise while enjoying the autumn air and fall colors.