As the autumnal breeze sweeps through Washington, the landscape undergoes a breathtaking transformation, painting the surroundings in vibrant hues. The crisp air, cooler days, and the gentle onset of rain herald the arrival of fall, and with it, an explosion of colors as trees change their foliage. Whether you’re a newcomer to the Evergreen State or a seasoned resident, the allure of the radiant autumnal palette is undeniable. Discover the top three scenic drives that showcase Washington’s fall splendor, as revealed by a recent national survey.
1. Snoqualmie Pass Scenic Byway: A Kaleidoscope of Colors
Topping the list of the best places to witness fall foliage in Washington is the Snoqualmie Pass Scenic Byway, securing the 27th spot on Gunther VW Creek’s prestigious ranking. This 12-mile scenic route traces Interstate 90 from Issaquah to the Kittitas Valley, offering a mesmerizing journey through central Washington. Snoqualmie Pass, the mountain pass connecting Seattle to Spokane, unfolds a picturesque panorama of the forested Cascade mountains and foothills. For those seeking a closer encounter with nature, approximately 100 scenic walking trails dot the landscape. While renowned for its autumnal beauty, it’s essential to note that this route is a delight year-round.
2. North Cascades Scenic Byway: Nature’s Symphony in Northern Washington
Securing the 100th position on the list, the North Cascades Scenic Byway stands as the second-best scenic drive for fall foliage in the state. Situated on the Cascade Loop on Highway 20 in northern Washington, this route winds through the North Cascades National Park, unveiling a breathtaking spectacle of forests, cascading waterfalls, and majestic mountain peaks. However, accessibility varies with the seasons, as the highway is typically closed from late November or early December through April or early May due to hazardous driving conditions.
3. Methow Valley: Alpine Glory on the Cascade Loop
Claiming the 122nd spot overall, Methow Valley emerges as the third-best scenic route for fall foliage in Washington. Also nestled on the Cascade Loop on Highway 20 in northern Washington, Methow Valley offers a distinct tapestry of grasslands, shrubs, alpine glaciers, and expansive valleys. Renowned for its panoramic viewpoints, this route provides travelers with six scenic locations to immerse themselves in the autumnal splendor.
National Recognition: Washington’s Autumnal Grandeur Among Top 5 in the Country
Washington’s fall foliage takes center stage on the national front, with the state securing notable positions in the overall top 5 scenic routes across the country, according to the survey. The top 5 scenic routes for fall foliage, as unveiled by the national survey, are:
- Seneca Trail (US Route 219), West Virginia
- Falls Road (MD Route 25), Maryland
- Allegheny Scenic Drive, Pennsylvania
- Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway, South Carolina
- Rim Rock Drive, Colorado
As autumn unfolds its vivid canvas, these scenic drives beckon residents and visitors alike to immerse themselves in the enchanting beauty of Washington’s fall foliage. Whether winding through mountain passes, traversing national parks, or embracing panoramic valleys, each route promises an unforgettable journey through nature’s vibrant autumnal tapestry.