Fall is one of my favorite seasons for photography, and for many reasons. The days are cooler, foliage and needles are turning brilliant colors, and the crowds are few. There are also a lot of different opportunities.
If you enjoy reds, then the berries are for you! Their foliage can start turning in mid-September in the North Cascades - especially around Mount Baker. Early October is more likely around Mount Rainier and other areas of the Central Cascades. The nice thing about these plants is that they can pretty much be found throughout the Cascades, both east and west side.
If you like the gold of larches, then the high country east of the crest is for you, begining in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and stretching north. Though colors can emerge in late September, early to mid-October is the better bet. Some of the most renouned areas for lyall's larch in the Cascades are the Enchantment Lakes, Ingalls Lake, the Rainy Pass area of the North Cascades and further east into the Methow. There are many other possibilities as well (see my Ice Lakes trip in the Entiat Mountains below).
As colors fade in the high country, they are just begining to pop in the lower elevations. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is an excellent visit in late October, as are the many river drainages of the Olympics - Sol Duc being my favorite. Closer to Seattle are destinations such as the Japanese Garden on Lake Washington or the University of Washington campus.
I hope this gives you some ideas for the coming weeks for places to get out and enjoy nature's show. I hope to visit Tipsoo Lake and the Paradise area at Mount Rainier in the coming days. For those of you who have my book Mount Rainier, you know these are a couple of my favorite areas for fall colors at MRNP!
Where will you be going?