Fall colours around the Capital City

Fall colours around the Capital City

We’re heading into the prime time to catch autumn leaves in Ottawa at their best, so take advantage and capture some of the fall colours.

Leaves change colour in fall because the shorter days cause the chlorophyll in the leaves — the pigment that makes leaves green — to break down, letting other pigments in the leaves emerge.

According to the Ontario Fall Colours Progression Report (yes, there is such a thing!), Eastern Ontario was at about 30% of leaves having changed as of Sept. 26. That means we’re getting close to the peak of colour variety before they start dropping.

With all of the nature in and around Ottawa, we’re blessed with many places to immerse ourselves among the colour. Here are 6 favourites close to home.

Gatineau Park

Hands down, Gatineau Park is among the most favourite spots to explore fall foliage. From Oct. 5-27, the  National Capital Commission, which oversees the park, showcases Fall Rhapsody, also updating a leaf “colour meter” and suggesting other spots to visit and activities to take in.

Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is scenic any time of year, but particularly in fall. The tree-lined canal offers walkers, joggers, cyclists and paddlers a beautiful backdrop.


If you want to stay in the city but still be surrounded by nature, head to the Arboretum at the Central Experimental Farm. Covering about 26 hectares of rolling land between Prince of Wales Drive, Dow's Lake and the canal, Canada’s oldest arboretum has more than 1,000 tree species. It’s a true oasis among the urban jungle.

Major’s Hill Park

The combination of turning leaves and the iconic backdrop of many of Ottawa’s “tourist” spots, including Parliament Hill, makes Major’s Hill a sure bet to visit. It’s also a great location to see the fall colours that ring the base of the Hill, too.

Mer Bleue

Not your typical fall colours spot, you’d be surprised by the variety of colour you can find walking through the Mer Bleue Conservation Area, particularly the reds and yellows, as you experience the biodiversity of this 7,700-year-old bog. 

Just explore

Sometimes one of the most satisfying ways to see fall colours is simply to go for a drive. Many of the routes surrounding the city are lined with forest that makes for a spectacular autumn show. Why not head out for a leisurely Sunday drive and see where the road takes you?

Enjoy the fall season in Ottawa!

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