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Oregon Fall Colors
Columbia River Gorge
We had previously visited the Columbia River Gorge in 1997 as
an impromptu side trip on a visit to Portland. The Gorge is less than
an hour's drive from Portland. This time we went there specifically in
search of rich fall foliage color and the Gorge was our primary
destination. We had planned our trip
based on this VIA
magazine article which claims the time to visit for fall
color is "mid to late October." The article neglects to mention
that the timing of fall color is extremely variable and hard to
predict. Varying temperatures and precipitation in the preceding months
can move the date range for the peak period of fall color as much as
month in a temperate area like Oregon.
The Gorge is very scenic any time of year but were we disappointed
that the fall color was only getting started at the time of our visit.
After a day of visiting the Gorge's waterfalls, we decided to head on
in search of better color.
On to the Cascade Mountains
Figuring out which direction to head for the best chance at
vibrant fall color we had made the trip to see and photograph was no
easy task. Unlike New England or other regions that have influxes of
tourists coming to see the leaves turn, Oregon's fall foliage is not
well known. As a result, there are fewer sources of information
foliage conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Gathering the information
we could find, we
decided to head to south and east to the Central Cascade mountains.
We hoped the higher elevations with their cooler temperatures would
have moved the colors of the leaves to a richer state than those that
we found at near sea level in the Gorge.
The drive into the Cascades reminded me of the Misty
Mountains in the Lord of the Rings. The fog and clouds were hovering
low over the mountain tops giving them a mystical air. As we drove
higher into the mountains, we started to see the vibrant yellows of the
vine maple turning. As we went higher, we saw the yellows making their
way to vibrant to pinks and finally deep reds. In the Central Cascades,
we found the fall show we were looking for.