The Pacific Northwest is known for its amazing summers of clear skies and lush, green foliage. When fall is ushered in, the air gets crisper and the leaves get crispier. Autumn in the PNW is our favorite season — and our worst kept secret. Before you pack up your summer gear, make the most of this magnificent season with a few outdoor adventures.
1. Willamette Valley wine country
Oregon is known for its Willamette Valley wine. With almost 500 wineries, you’ll find a fall adventure full of aromatic grapes and oaky overtones. Take a walk among the vineyards, enjoy the changing deciduous trees, or find a spot with a view, all while sipping your favorite red or white.
2. The coast
Let’s get one thing clear: The place where the ocean meets the shore in the Pacific Northwest isn’t called the beach. It’s the coast. This term is especially appropriate for those visiting the shore in autumn. A bonfire on the sand is amazing any time of year, but it’s at its best in the crisp fall air. Check out Lincoln City in Oregon or Birch Bay in Washington — just don’t forget to take a hefty jacket.
Fall is all about football, and the Northwest has its fair share of great college teams. Catch a game at one of our local universities, and see each campus in its full fall glory. With six public universities in Washington and seven in Oregon, watching some great football shouldn’t be a problem — unless you’re a Portland State fan.
4. Fall hiking
If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, you’re likely not a fair-weather hiker. Whatever the weather, you’re ready to hit the trails and take in the scenery. While known for their lush, evergreen forests, Oregon and Washington have stunning deciduous trees as well. Take in the full glory of autumn in Silver Falls State Park and Forest Park in Oregon, or the Hoh Rain Forest in Washington. Now’s the time to get a great hike in and enjoy the views before the winter weather begins.
5. Fruit picking and canning
Embrace the tastes of fall and hit the orchards for apple picking. This low-key autumn adventure is perfect for families and is a unique way to spend a Saturday. And the fun doesn’t stop there. Try canning and preserving your spoils, or press them into apple cider. Either way, spending time in the beautiful changing colors of the apple orchards makes it all worthwhile.
6. An apple cider tour
Everyone always talks about the beer in Oregon and Washington being unparalleled. While we agree, fall is all about apple cider! Aside from making your own, the Pacific Northwest is chock-full of amazing cider companies. Whether you like hot or hard apple cider, you’ll find a brew in Oregon or a potion in Washington to quench your thirst.
7. Whale watching
Take a break from the mainland and keep your eyes peeled for some waterspouts off the coast of Washington. Spotting orcas is no rare feat in the San Juans, and it can provide quite the thrill! Since the whales only visit during certain times of the year, it’s important to spot them while you can. Autumn happens to be prime for whale watching!
8. A bike tour
Approach autumn adventures from your bicycle saddle, and pedal through the beautiful Northwest. Mountain biking, road biking, or cycling on the beach are all options in Oregon and Washington, and are a great way to see the fall landscape without taking a road trip. The crisp fall air and lower temps also make distance riding easier, giving you a break from the summer heat.
9. Salmon fishing
Cast a line and embrace fall fishing in the Pacific Northwest. If you love to fish, get excited, because the Chinook salmon are returning to the Columbia and coast rivers. Check the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations before heading out, and get ready to haul in a great catch.
Bundle up, build a fire, and pack some warm drinks for an autumn evening under the stars. Camping in Oregon and Washington in the fall can be amazing, and now’s your time to do it. With the mild autumn weather, gorgeous scenery, and variety of locations, you’re sure to have a blast. Don’t forget about fall canoeing, kayaking, and climbing, too! You can have all the fun summer activities — just don’t forget to wear extra fleece.
With all these autumn adventures to consider, what will you try first? While you decide, find a secure spot in Oregon or Washington to safely store your gear. That way, fall fun is always just around the corner.