Fall Fun Times at State Parks

Autumn is a wonderful season to fall in love with Washington State Parks. There are so many great things to see and do – without the summer crowds! Here’s a list of state parks that display their winter hours and even which ones provide winter camping. We are sharing five refreshed suggestions to help you explore your state parks this time of year, featuring wonderful photos from WSPF photographers.

1. Leaf Peeping

Great news: You don’t have to travel far to enjoy fantastic Fall colors. Experience vibrant reds, yellows, oranges, greens and browns at a Washington state park this season. Our state parks are full of native deciduous trees and shrubs that can put on quite a show.

2. Mushroom Hunting

Fall is a good time to forage for mushrooms in Washington’s state parks, like these Shaggy Manes found at Steamboat Rock State Park. Our region is full of wild mushrooms with colorful names like Lobster, Hedgehog, Fairy Ring, Apricot Jelly, King Bolete, Death Cap and Chicken of the Woods! Remember: some mushrooms are poisonous. You should always check with an expert source if you aren’t sure what’s safe to eat. Fortunately, there are many great sources of information, including mycological societies and mushroom clubs. Two fall bonuses from the Puget Sound Mycological Society include the annual Wild Mushroom Show on October 29 and 30 at Bellevue College where over 200 varieties of wild mushrooms will be displayed and identified so that you can learn about amazing fungi, as well as each Monday from 4-7pm, you can get help identifying your wild mushrooms at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle.

3. Hiking

Fall hiking is cool! It’s no longer hot outside, but the Pacific Northwest’s mild weather means you can continue to hike and explore Washington’s state parks. Our friends at the Washington Trails Association have compiled a handy list of state parks fall hikes which should entice you out this season.

4. Camping

The busy summer season may be over, but there are still fantastic opportunities to enjoy camping at one of the many year-round campsites, RV spots, cabins and more across Washington’s state parks. Do you know that some parks offer cozy, rustic cabins at our parks across the state? Plus, in the off-season, most cabins, yurts and park shelters are offered at cheaper rates!

Planning your trip i made easier with these tools. You can use this handy list of parks to see what’s open. We have virtual tours so you can see cabins and houses while planning your visit to the cabins at Ike Kinswa, Mount Spokane, the Deception Pass Ben Ure cabin and more.  Look at our virtual tours page to dream up your cabin visits and head to the parks site for info on all state park cabins, rustic shelters & yurts.

5. Star Gazing

As the days get shorter, enjoy stellar opportunities to gaze at the night sky on clear Fall nights. You can enjoy closer views of the stars by traveling to Goldendale Observatory State Park, which hosts one of the nation’s largest public telescopes. From Oct. 1 through March 31 the interpretive center is open Friday through Sunday from 1pm to 9pm and shows are held at 2pm and 6pm. Visit the Friends of Goldendale Observatory for more info on evening shows.

If you are lucky, you can see more than stars; state parks in the San Juan Islands offer opportunities to view the Northern Lights during the colder part of the year.  This Northern Lights photo below was taken on Orcas Island by Chris Teren.


We love Washington’s state parks. Here at the Washington State Parks Foundation, we support, promote and advocate for your state parks. Our members make our work possible. Please join us today to help us make your favorite state parks even better.