aerial fall colours

Planning to visit us during fall colours? Start here.

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!

hikers at lookout with fall colours

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.

lightning striking on lake

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 

Parks like Algonquin Provincial Park and Mono Cliffs Provincial Park have become fall colour hotspots.  

We suspect that winding through the forest in a gaggle of visitors probably isn’t the aesthetic (or experience) that you’re looking for.

two visitors standing on boardwalk looking at fall colours

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!

view of shoreline around lake with fall colours
Driftwood Provincial Park

Thinking Algonquin? Try Driftwood Provincial Park or Arrowhead Provincial Park instead. 

Eyeing Mono Cliffs? Consider a trip to Earl Rowe Provincial Park!

person looking over at bridge
Earl Rowe Provincial Park

Willing to go a little further north? Restoule Provincial Park and Mikisew Provincial Park both offer stunning autumnal views!

Mikisew 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.

two people mountain biking

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. 

fungi in forest

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! 

staff standing in forest with fall colours

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.  

Happy exploring! 

Where to view fall colours 

Respecting parks

Safety and preparedness 

Trip planning and park-specific guides