Top 5 Autumn Day Trip Drives in Oregon

These drives can be completed in a day, or expanded into a weekend trip. Travelers should make sure to know the weather forecast and road conditions before leaving for their destination, as fall weather can be unpredictable in some instances.

Salem to Sisters- Hwy 22

This scenic drive follows Highway 22 east from Salem, on a 100-mile trip through one of the most scenic regions of the country. Beginning a trek up the foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, fall foliage may begin to show itself past Stayton and closer to Detroit. Traveling higher into the Cascade Mountains travelers are amazed by brightly colored fall foliage along the roadside, as displays increase at higher elevations. Once travelers reach Sisters, bright tamarack trees are spotted. Sisters is an excellent place for dining and shopping.

This trip to Central Oregon is best taken in mid-September through October, depending on the weather. The autumn foliage will be best visible by this time. Autumn travel means warm, dry weather, not too hot and not as busy as during the summer months. However, early snow and storms can occur so, travelers should check Oregon road conditions, by referring to the ODOT road cam network.

Silver Creek Falls Highway

A short drive through the Willamette Valley, brings visitors to a spectacular place of beauty. To find the road to Silver Creek Falls from Salem, travelers go east on Highway 22 for 10 miles, then turn left at the sign for Silver Falls Park, and follow Highway 214 for 16 miles to the park entrance. The windy drive provides ample opportunity for viewing fall foliage and country scenery. As the road winds up to Silver Creek Falls, there are several viewpoints of the valleys below, and overlooks of Salem. Once at the park, visitors can take the Trail of Ten Falls or Canyon Trail through the temperate rain forest. The park has over 25 miles of trails.

Newport to Florence – Hwy 101

Although the fall foliage may be absent from this drive, the magnificent ocean views make up for it. The Oregon Coast can be pleasantly warm during autumn months, in what locals call the “Second Summer”. Warm weather and clear skies provide excellent conditions for driving the route between Newport and Florence. Once outside of Yachats, the road narrows and the curves begin. Visitors enjoy the spectacular cliff-side views, plummeting hundreds of feet to the ocean below. Late fall and early winter months bring whales to the Oregon Coast as they travel south to Baja California. Visitors enjoy whale watching opportunities along this route, especially at Cape Perpetua.

Portland to Hood River – I-84/ Historic Columbia River Highway

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a beautiful place to take an autumn drive. After a seasonal rain, the numerous waterfalls along the route will be thunderously cascading down the cliffs. Bridal Veil and Multnomah Falls are popular sites along I-84. For additional attractions and a more leisurely route, travelers should take the Historic Columbia River Highway, which parallels the interstate, making its way by Cascade Locks. Once snow falls in the high mountains, Mt. Hood will shine brightly white on a clear day. Mt. Hood is visible from Portland to Hood River.

Portland to Seaside – Hwy 26

Heading west from Portland, travelers enjoy views of fall foliage as they head to the beach. Highway 26 is a great road to travel in the fall, when there is less traffic. Stops along the way include Camp 18, a restaurant and tribute to logging history, located at mile marker 18 on Hwy 26, and the Sitka Spruce Oregon Heritage Tree Site, however, the towering tree fell victim to a hurricane-force windstorm on Dec. 2, 2007. The tree trunk remains for visitors to see. Seaside, the ultimate destination, is a fun place for dining, shopping or strolls on the beach.