Fall is phenomenal in Fremont-Winema National Forest, thanks to rare Oregon aspen

Tamara Schmidt is a Colorado native, and knows a thing or two about aspens in the fall. “It’s just spectacular,” she said. “It adds that bright pop of gold to the forest. They’re special.”

Schmidt, now the public affairs officer with Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest, is fortunate enough to work within some of the state’s rare stands of quaking aspen, found scattered throughout the southern Oregon forest.

According to a 2013 report, an estimated 24,000 acres of aspen exists in the 2.3 million acre forest, making up the majority of the roughly 35,000 acres of quaking aspen in all of Oregon.

We know little about how common quaking aspen once was in the state, but researchers believe it was much more widespread than it is now, its population affected by the suppression of wildfires and the hunting of big game – both of which help the tree compete with bigger, longer-lasting conifers.

But a recovery effort has helped the aspen thrive in Fremont-Winema, making fall in the national forest a special kind of experience not often seen in the Pacific Northwest.

Head down to the National Forest from late-September to mid-October to see the aspens turn a vibrant yellow, Schmidt said. And while there are stands scattered throughout the area, here are a few places to go to find them.


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