The 2021 edition of Fall Rhapsody is over!

Some of the recommended destinations and activities may no longer be accessible. This page will be updated for the 2022 edition.

Major’s Hill Park during Fall Rhapsody. Benches and trees with orange leaves in the foreground and the Peace Tower in the background.
Major’s Hill Park during Fall Rhapsody.

Every fall, as the days get shorter and temperatures drop, vibrant colours take over Ottawa–Gatineau. This spectacular show lasts only a few weeks, but attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the parks and natural spaces in Canada’s Capital Region.

From the heart of the Capital to the peaceful Greenbelt and beyond, there are many unique and fascinating places to enjoy the fall colours in the Capital Region. In addition to the popular spots in Gatineau Park, there are plenty of hidden gems tucked away from the crowds.

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Take me to the colours!

Downtown

Yellow, orange and red leaves provide a stunning backdrop to already scenic views in the urban core of Gatineau and Ottawa.

From downtown, you can walk, bike or take public transit to parks, gardens, attractions and beautiful views of the shorelines. The area is loaded with architectural gems — and bustling with shops, cafés and restaurants which are sure to enhance your Fall Rhapsody experience. Stop for a bite to eat at the NCC Bistros or taverns (Tavern on the Hill and Tavern on the Falls), or in the historic ByWard Market. 

Participate in NCC Weekend Bikedays, presented by Nokia, the Capital’s popular program provides about 20 kilometres of parkways open for active use.

Canada’s Capital Greenbelt

The Greenbelt is a place for nature and for people. It is a vast, protected green space showcasing a mosaic of landscapes, including farms, forests, sand dunes, wetlands and natural trails. Enjoy a fall-themed picnic, take a family hike under colourful leaves or visit a local farm, and its proximity to residential areas makes it a choice destination this fall.

Gatineau Park

A favourite among local residents and visitors — and for good reason — Gatineau Park often reaches visitor capacity in the fall. For a less crowded, and possibly more pleasant experience, head for Meech Creek Valley, Philippe Lake or Luskville Falls. The trails in these areas will lead you to lakes, lookouts and scenic covered bridges. On weekends, be sure to check out special Fall Rhapsody events organized in the Park.

If you really have your heart set on seeing the southern sector of the Park, plan on going during the week, or take the free NCC shuttle during the weekend, which stops at Pink Lake, the Mackenzie King Estate and Champlain Lookout.

During Fall Rhapsody, Gatineau Park parkways are open only for active users and the shuttle service every day until noon. Motor vehicles can access the parkways daily from noon until 30 minutes after sunset.

Plan your visit

To make the most of your visit, be sure to plan your route, bring plenty of water and snacks, and dress according to the weather. Don’t forget to check on hours, access routes and fees before heading out. Keep your return time in mind, as the sun sets earlier in the fall.

Other tips

  • Maintain physical distancing practices during your visit, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, and wear a mask in the shuttle and where required.
  • Know and follow the rules specific to the location you’re visiting and the activity you’re practising.
  • Always carry a map, and be sure to share your itinerary. If you’re setting out alone in Gatineau Park or the Greenbelt, bring a cellphone, a whistle and a flashlight in case of emergency.
  • Leave no trace. If there are no waste receptacles nearby, take your trash back home with you, where you can dispose of it properly.

Other areas to discover

There are many more places to enjoy the fall colours around the Capital Region. Several suggestions can be found on the Ottawa Tourism and Outaouais Tourism websites. And here are some tourist routes that combine the outdoors with local flavours:

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