The latest start: Columbia River Gorge (Washington and Oregon)
When to go: Late October
Why go: The leaves at the highest elevations start to change color first, meaning that the low-lying Columbia River Highway east of Portland gets color late. From I-84 on the southern (Oregon) side of the river, see big-leaf maple and cottonwood in between riverfront vineyards. Use bridges at Hood River, the Dalles and Biggs Junction to design a Washington-and-Oregon loop.
Where to get the best view: Multnomah Falls, just east of Portland, pairs the trees with a jaw-dropping waterfall and a historic Forest Service lodge.
Insider tip: Unlike many mountain highways, I-84 doesn't close for winter, so it's a good bet once snows (and road closures) fall elsewhere.
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