Even summer lovers mourning the end of their favorite season can admit that fall foliage is something to be admired. But some of us take that admiration one step further. Enter leaf peeping.
Leaf peeping is a niche type of tourism, where fall leaf enthusiasts travel to areas where the foliage is particularly spectacular. Organized leaf viewing tours are often called foliage excursions, while some enthusiasts refer to their own outings as “leaf peepshows.”
Observing the reds, oranges, and yellows isn’t just a nice seasonal pastime; it’s also big business. According to a 2014 Associated Press report, leaf peeping tourists who visit New England spend close to $3 billion. In New Brunswick, tourism officials have also cited increased tourism specifically related to fall leaves.
Interested in doing some leaf peeping of your own? Here are some of the best places to do it in Lane County.
Campus color in Eugene and Corvallis
There are more school colors than you’d think at University of Oregon and Oregon State University, found in Eugene and Corvallis respectively. Several species of deciduous trees are planted at each, making a walking tour of campus a nice alternative to tailgating.
Willamette Valley used to be home to huge stands of Oregon white oak, and while those forests are now almost entirely gone there’s still some beauty to be found in the Willamette Valley wine country, where rolling green hills turn hues of yellow as the vineyards harvest their grapes for the season.
The McKenzie River runs from Clear Lake clear down to Eugene, passing through stands of deciduous trees along the way. Try a trip along the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail or drive the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, which goes by the aspen stands of Black Butte Ranch.
The Rhododendrons might be gone, but there is still plenty of character in the gardens at Hendricks Park. A carpet of leaves covers the wide open grass lawns and it is a FANTASTIC spot for creative family portraits.
If you want the best views of the changing colors of the fall season take one of the trails on Spencer Butte to the top and take in the amazing panorama. From Fern Ridge to way past Springfield you will see a color palate to rival all others and you’ll be getting some great exercise too.
Where is your favorite place for leaf peeping?