The crisp air and morning frost that September brings get many Ontarians excited for the arrival of fall colours.
And who can blame us? We would argue that Ontario is the most breathtaking place to enjoy autumn in all its stunning glory.
If you’re planning a trip to take in the colours of the season, here’s everything you’ll need to know before you go!
1. Check the Fall Colour Report
Wondering if this is the best week to go peep some leaves? Let us help you decide!
Provincial parks across Ontario keep our fall colours tracker up to date with information on in-park conditions. Following the tracker can help you choose the timing of your trip and know what to expect when you arrive.
2. Check the weather
Fall is a season of change and it’s important to make sure that you are dressed for current conditions, whether they are chilly, sunny, or wet.
If the day’s weather is expected to change, pack clothes and equipment to match the changing conditions.
Heading out in wet and cold weather? Take time to prepare for these specific conditions.
3. Avoid crowds
We suspect that winding through the forest in a gaggle of visitors probably isn’t the aesthetic (or experience) that you’re looking for.
It isn’t great for the flora and fauna that live in those forests either. So what’s the solution?
Visit a less busy (but often just as beautiful!) park!
Eyeing Mono Cliffs? Consider a trip to Earl Rowe Provincial Park!
We’ve compiled lists of parks where you can view fall colours including parks that are less busy, parks that offer accessible viewing areas for visitors with disabilities, and parks in southwestern Ontario where you can view fall colours later in the season.
Whatever park you choose, check their social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, X/Twitter) before you go to confirm that the park isn’t at capacity. You can find links to the social media accounts for each park on their page under the Parks tab on the Ontario Parks website.
4. Plan your activities
Will your trip include hiking, biking, and/or paddling? Make sure you know what facilities are open during the fall season at the park you are visiting.
Due to staffing limitations, rental facilities at many parks close after Labour Day, so if you are planning to rent equipment like a canoe or kayak, you may need to make alternate arrangements.
If your visit involves heading out on the water, take time to plan for the changing weather and conditions that fall brings.
Similarly, if you are planning a hike, make sure your plan factors in autumn’s earlier sunsets and ensure that you will be off the trail before dusk.
5. Book ahead
Many of the parks welcoming guests this fall offer advance daily vehicle permits.
That means you can book your spot up to five days ahead of your visit!
Advance permits are an important way that Ontario Parks helps ensure that visitors who are making the trek to visit a park will be able to access the park, even on busy days.
Learn all about the advance permit program, which parks participate, and more on our blog.
6. Be a good guest
Fall is the favourite time of year for many Ontario Parks staff and we look forward to sharing the wonder of this season with you.
It’s also an incredibly busy time of year and we need your help to make it a success! High visitor volume can take a toll on parks in a number of ways.
When you visit, please commit to staying on the marked trails and not picking, foraging, or harvesting any natural items.
Removing natural items (like leaves, plants, and mushrooms) from a park is illegal, and can damage the ecosystem, making it more difficult for its inhabitants to find food and shelter.
Remember: you are a guest in the forest. Be a champion for ecological integrity during your visit.
Consider packing a zero waste or low waste trip when you are planning your visit. Please ensure that any waste you do create ends up in a waste bin or consider packing it out and bringing it home with you.
Finally, be kind to park staff. While fall is a very busy season in parks, we operate with smaller crews due to staffing limitations and after our amazing summer students return to their studies.
Our staff are knowledgeable and passionate about the natural spaces that they steward and we couldn’t welcome you to these places without them!
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article.
Below are all of the resources that we’ve linked to, listed by theme for easy reference as you plan your fall colours trips.
Where to view fall colours
- Explore fall colours at these gems
- Accessible locations to view fall colours
- Fall hiking gems in Ontario’s southwest
- Sudbury rocks for fall hiking!
- Fall vistas of Ontario’s northeast
- 5 ways to keep ecological integrity in mind this fall
- Hitting the trails? Know the etiquette before you go
- Subject: Please do not disturb
- Are you an ethical wildlife photographer?
Safety and preparedness
- Wet weather hiking
- Fall paddling safety
- 7 tips for cool-weather adventuring
- It’s October – what are the bears up to?
Trip planning and park-specific guides
- Book your daily vehicle permit in advance!
- 5 reasons to visit Arrowhead Provincial Park this fall
- 5 reasons to visit Chutes Provincial Park
- Discover fall camping at Driftwood Provincial Park
- Fall fishing in northeastern Ontario
- 5 reasons to visit Lake Superior Provincial Park this fall
- 5 reasons to visit Pancake Bay Provincial Park
- Fall fun at Mikisew
- Fall hiking at Rainbow Falls Provincial Park
- The ultimate fall adventure destination: paddle, bike and hike at Restoule Provincial Park
- 5 reasons to visit Rideau River Provincial Park this fall
- 5 reasons to visit Rondeau this fall
- Experience autumn at Sibbald Point Provincial Park
- Fall colours at Algonquin Provincial Park (we want to emphasize that Algonquin is incredibly busy during the fall and encourage visitors to consider other parks. If you do plan to visit Algonquin, please take time to read this blog for important information)
- Algonquin’s second fall colours peak: the golden encore