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Fall Colors in the North Cascades

Washington State may not be the first to come to mind when you think of the changing fall colors as upstate New York or Maine might, but I’m here to show you that remarkable autumn colors can indeed be found all over the state! The North Cascades is arguably the most beautiful area of Washington, especially during end of September – beginning of October, with its golden larches and reddish-orange maples against a bright clear blue sky. Because the elevation is higher than in Seattle, the colors are more pronounced. The North Cascades is between 3 – 4 hours’ drive from Seattle, so it’s well worth it to spend the weekend to make the long trek worth your while!

We stayed at a KOA Campground in Winthrop. For $45 per night per campsite, this was the nicest camping experience we’ve ever had, complete with hot water showers and private individual bathrooms that make you feel like you’re in a sauna. It’s also right on the Methow River, so it’s a lovely quiet and peaceful setting. This campsite is for both tents and RVs, complete with hookups. The cute little town of Winthrop and Twisp are just minutes away, where you can find home made ice cream, hand made pizza, smoothies, Mexican and American food, and other saloons in a Country Western style. Be sure to stop by Rocking Horse Bakery for breakfast, coffee or takeaway pastries and sandwiches for all the hiking you’ll be doing!

One of my favorite spots in all of Washington is Diablo Lake, which some people mistake for lakes in Banff, Canada! On a clear, sunny day, be prepared to stand in awe at the sunlight dancing off of sharp turquoise colored waters with rugged peaked mountains as a backdrop.

The North Cascades Highway is a treat for the eyes within itself. No matter what time of year, this highway offers unbeatable views of jagged mountain peaks jutting up into the heavens with crystal clear lakes and pebble-bottomed rivers below. In autumn, colorful leaves fall from trees, their leaves falling wispily, landing like fairies lining the road with lines of yellows and reds.

There are a myriad hiking options to select from, but our favorite was Heather Maple Pass Loop Trail. This is an extremely busy trail, so plan on arriving by 8:00 AM and be prepared to park along the highway and walk to the trailhead. I suggest doing the hike counterclockwise for the most stunning views.

Heather Maple Pass Loop
7.2 miles RT
2,000′ elevation gain
6,650 highest point at the summit

Sit back and scroll through a photo journal of Fall colors in the North Cascades:

I hope this inspires you to take your next trip into the mountains! Where is your favorite place to view Fall colors in your home town? Let me know in the comments below!


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