• Experience the beauty of fall foliage in lesser-known West Coast towns, away from the tourist crowds and surrounded by diverse landscapes and climates.
  • Visit towns like Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Sisters, and Dundee to witness stunning displays of vibrant autumn colors, scenic drives, and outdoor activities.
  • Enjoy peaceful walks, hikes, and attractions such as wineries, breweries, and local markets, while indulging in seasonal treats and taking in the natural beauty of these hidden gem destinations.

As summer comes to an end and the temperatures start to cool, fall foliage emerges across many parts of the West Coast. While popular destinations like Portland and Seattle see an influx of leaf peepers during this time, many under-the-radar towns offer spectacular fall scenery without the crowds.

There are plenty of peaceful and beautiful places to go off-grid on the West Coast, along with charming, lesser-known towns away from the masses of tourists that are home to diverse climates and landscapes, which translates to an equally diverse display of fall colors.

From the vibrant red and orange leaves of vine maples in the Pacific Northwest to the golden aspens found in the Rocky Mountains, these lesser-known West Coast towns provide front-row seats to nature's autumn show. Visitors can take leisurely fall drives down quiet back roads, go on secluded hikes, or simply relax and take in the seasonal beauty of these hidden gem destinations.

For travelers looking to take in the autumn hues in a more relaxed setting, here are some of the least-crowded towns to visit on the West Coast in the fall to see autumn foliage.

RELATED:10 Most Scenic Spots For Beach Camping On The West Coast

10 Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth in winter
Photo by Rosalie Barley on Unsplash
Leavenworth in winter

Leavenworth offers a lot to do and see, but its Bavarian-style architecture and mountain backdrop, in particular, make it a quiet West Coast town with gorgeous natural beauty. It's one of Washington's most picturesque towns tucked away in the Cascade Mountains, where the surrounding Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest becomes a kaleidoscope of fall hues in October.

Travelers can ride the gondola up to 8,000 feet at Stevens Pass for panoramic views of the changing leaves. Back down in town, autumn is celebrated with seasonal events like Oktoberfest. Also, Leavenworth has Washington's first alpine coaster, which is perfect for catching breathtaking views of some of the best fall foliage on the West Coast.

  • Hours: Shops and restaurants typically open 10am-5pm daily. Some close on Tuesdays.
  • Best Time to Visit: Mid-October for peak fall colors.
  • Things to Do: Ride the Leavenworth gondola, hike the Icicle Gorge Trail, and shop the Bavarian-style village.

9 Wenatchee, Washington

Wenatchee River in Tumwater Canyon, Washington
Wenatchee River in Tumwater Canyon, Washington

Located on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains (home to some of the most scenic West Coast drives), Wenatchee is surrounded by orchards that burst with brilliant fall colors.

Visitors can pick apples from the trees at local orchards or browse the produce stands dotted along the highways. On clear days, the snow-capped Glacier Peak Wilderness can be seen from downtown. The Wenatchee River Trail provides a peaceful walk amongst ruby vine maples and golden cottonwoods.

  • Best Time to Visit: Late September to early October.
  • Top Attractions: Ohme Gardens, Rocky Reach Dam, Pybus Public Market
  • Tour Duration: 2-3 days

8 Camden, Maine

Boats in the historic harbor in Camden, Maine
Photo by Benjamin Rascoe on Unsplash
Boats in the historic harbor in Camden, Maine

On the rugged Maine coast, this small town is a hidden gem; the quaint harbor town of Camden puts on a dazzling fall display amidst its backdrop of mountains and sea.

Travelers can hike through the woods ablaze with autumn hues in Camden Hills State Park or take a scenic drive along the Coastal Route 1. The charming downtown area comes alive on crisp fall days and is perfect for indulging in seasonal treats like apple cider donuts from local bakeries.

  • Best Time to Visit: Late September to mid-October.
  • Top Attractions: Camden Hills State Park, Mt Battie summit hike, Camden Harbor

7 Sisters, Oregon

Main road in town Sisters in Oregon, USA
Photo by:Chmee2CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Main road in town Sisters in Oregon, USA

Set against the dramatic peaks of the Cascade Mountains, Sisters is another one of the less-crowded towns on the West Coast in the fall, and it is transformed into a rustic wonderland come autumn. Quaking aspens scattered throughout town turn bright yellow, contrasting beautifully with the surrounding evergreens.

Visitors can take peaceful walks along the riverside or visit one of the many family-owned ranches. Grab a cup of hot cider and watch the leaves drift down in Three Creeks Plaza.

  • Hours: Shops open daily, 10 am-5 pm, restaurants open for dinner until 8-9 pm.
  • Best Time to Visit: Mid-September to early October.
  • Things to Do: Three Creeks Brewing, Sisters Art Works gallery, outdoor activities.

6 Dundee, Oregon

Soléna Estate vineyards in Yamhill County near Dundee, Oregon, USA
Photo by Keith Monaghan on Unsplash
Soléna Estate vineyards in Yamhill County near Dundee, Oregon, USA 

Nestled in the heart of Oregon wine country, tranquil and crowd-free Dundee offers spectacular views of the changing leaves in the Willamette Valley. The regimented rows of grapevines turn brilliant shades of orange and red.

Travelers can tour the local wineries, many of which host harvest festivals and offer tastings of seasonal releases. Enjoy a picnic lunch amongst the fall foliage at one of Dundee's riverside parks.

  • Best Time to Visit: Early October during harvest season.
  • Things to Do: Wine tasting, Red Hills Market, biking along the wine trails.

5 McKenzie Bridge, Oregon

The McKenzie River from the left bank near the Goodpasture covered bridge
Photo By :pithecanthropus4152CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The McKenzie River from the left bank near the Goodpasture covered bridge

Located deep within the Willamette National Forest, McKenzie Bridge comes alive each autumn thanks to its abundance of native maple trees. Vibrant red leaves drape over the McKenzie River, creating picture-perfect scenes.

Visitors can hike the McKenzie River Trail sections that run parallel to the waterway or opt for some world-class trout fishing on crisp fall days. Stay at one of the area's cozy lodges and enjoy the peaceful seclusion of this seasonal mountain town.

  • Trail Difficulty: Easy-moderate hikes like Tamolitch Blue Pool (2 miles roundtrip)
  • Length: McKenzie River Trail sections range from 2 miles to over 20 miles
  • Things to Do: Hiking, biking, fishing for trout on the McKenzie River

RELATED:10 Prettiest Places To Vacation On The West Coast

4 Winthrop, Washington

Shops in Riverside Avenue, Winthrop, Washington, USA.
Photo by;Joe MabelCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Shops in Riverside Avenue, Winthrop, Washington, USA.

This old Western town in Washington's North Cascade Mountains provides an idyllic fall getaway. Set against the shores of the Methow River, Winthrop's main street is lined with shops, restaurants, and galleries adorned with autumn wreaths and gourds.

Nearby hikes like the Maple Pass Loop trail offer stunning high alpine vistas of Larches turning bright yellow. Taste seasonal ciders and wines at the area's many tasting rooms.

  • Location: North Cascades along the Methow River
  • Best Time to Visit: Mid-September to early October
  • Things to Do: Horseback riding, kayaking, hiking the Maple Pass Loop

3 Index Town, Washington

Index, Washington.
Photo By :Joe MabelCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Index, Washington.

Formerly a mining town, Index exudes rustic, small-town charm coupled with epic wilderness scenery. People come to its historic downtown area and the surrounding Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest each fall to take in the dazzling foliage.

Vibrant vine maples and cottonwood trees contrast beautifully with evergreen firs along trails like the Lake Serene hike. Grab a bite from one of the town's laidback cafes and enjoy mountain views steeped in autumnal splendor.

  • Difficulty: Moderate-strenuous hikes like Lake Serene (8 miles roundtrip)
  • Things to Do: Hiking, mountain biking, visiting Mt. Index overlook

2 Ashland, Oregon

Aerial view of Ashland, with trees adorned with vibrant fall colors, Oregon
Aerial view of Ashland, with trees adorned with vibrant fall colors, Oregon

Ashland sits at the base of the Siskiyou and Cascade Mountain ranges in southern Oregon. Mild fall weather and stunning foliage make it a beautiful yet peaceful destination away from the crowds, and there are plenty of cozy hotels in Ashland for the fall to base one's leaf-peeping adventure.

Lithia Park boasts over 100 acres of woodlands that display vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow come autumn. Take a guided fall foliage tour or unwind at Ashland's quaint cafes with a warm beverage while enjoying the seasonal beauty surrounding this cultural hub.

  • Location: Southern Oregon near the California border
  • Best Time to Visit: Mid-October during the fall foliage festival
  • Top Attractions: Lithia Park, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

RELATED:10 Best Beaches In Oregon That Will Have You Falling In Love With The West Coast

1 Naches, Washington

Stone chair and table in a park in Naches, Washington, USA
Photo by:FarragutfulCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Stone chair and table in a park in Naches, Washington, USA

Tucked away in central Washington's Cascade foothills, Naches is one of the many West Coast hidden gems in the fall. Quaking aspen groves surrounding the town cloak the landscape in shimmering golden leaves. Nearby hiking trails like the Naches Peak Loop provide excellent viewing opportunities amidst panoramic mountain vistas.

Grab a bite in town before heading into the countryside to traverse back roads lined with autumn foliage. From late September through October, Naches' secluded location makes it one of Washington's best spots to soak in the fall scenery.

  • Length: Naches Peak Loop hike is 3.5 miles roundtrip
  • Things to Do: Hiking Naches Peak Loop, apple picking at local orchards