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, especially outside of Gatineau Park, where physical distance is much easier to maintain.
Enjoy the fall colours everywhere in the Capital Region from September 26 to October 25, 2020.
You don’t have to travel far to enjoy the spectacular show. Yellow, orange and red leaves provide a stunning backdrop to already scenic views in the urban core of Gatineau and Ottawa.
All locations downtown are only a short walk or bike ride away from parks, gardens, attractions and beautiful views of the shorelines. Most destinations are accessible by public transit. Plus, the area is loaded with architectural gems — and bustling with shops, cafés and restaurants which are sure to enhance your Fall Rhapsody experience. Be sure to check out the NCC Bistros, the taverns (Tavern on the Hill and Tavern on the Falls) and the ByWard Market. Many attractions have reopened and are happy to welcome visitors under strict health protocols.
Canada’s Capital Greenbelt
The Greenbelt is a place for nature and people. It is a vast, protected green space showcasing a mosaic of landscapes, including farms, forests, sand dunes, wetlands and natural trails — over 150 km! There are also multi-use pathways — perfect for cycling or walking your dog on leash —as well as picnic areas and two boat launching sites.
Nature lovers can observe many species of wildlife in every sector of the Greenbelt, and outdoor enthusiasts won’t run short of activities to enjoy. The Greenbelt forms a horseshoe shape around the south of Ottawa from east to west, and its proximity to residential areas makes it a choice destination for safe outings this fall.
A favourite among local residents and visitors — and for good reason — Gatineau Park often reaches visitor capacity in the fall. For the best and safest experience, head for Meech Creek Valley, Philippe Lake or Luskville Falls. These places are less busy than the parkways, and the trails in these areas will lead you to lakes, lookouts and scenic covered bridges. The different types of trees you’ll find there provide a completely different view and experience.
Those who really have their heart set on seeing the southern sector should plan on going there during the week, or plan on taking the free NCC shuttle during the weekend, which stops at Pink Lake and the Mackenzie King Estate. It’s also important to note that, during Fall Rhapsody, Gatineau Park parkways are open only for active users 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.
- 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.
Early season: green
Last updated: September 22, 2020
Suggestions from our partners
There are many more places to enjoy the fall colours around Ottawa, in Eastern Ontario and in the Outaouais region. Check out suggestions from our partners at Ottawa Tourism, Outaouais Tourism, Garden Promenade and Ottawa Markets.
The NCC is proud of its association with the following partners: Rogers Media, Bell Media, Ottawa Citizen, LeDroit and Imagi Communications.