Popular | Four Spots for Fall Colors
If you want to find fall colors in Arizona then you have to act fast...like now! Peak times for those magical reds, yellows, greens, and browns typically start mid-September to mid-October. Two weeks ago my wife and I went to Locket Meadow on the Inner Basin Trail and the leaves were mostly yellow and green with reds just beginning to show so getting out this weekend should be just about the perfect time to get your fill of fall colors in Arizona. I've laid out four of the best places in the state to take in the fall views as well as some awesome resources for Arizona falls. Enjoy! Oh and BTW, share your experiences with all of us in the comments and on my Instagram feed! I love to see your photos!
By late September and into early October the aspens are typically in full fall splendor in the higher country. Before winter comes, the colors will spread from the San Francisco peaks all the way into the town of Flagstaff. It really is a sight to behold. The best spots to capture fall is;
Highway 180: This scenic drive is the portion of the road between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon and allows you to see some of the areas most beautiful fall colors right from your car.
Lockett Meadow and the Inner Basin Trail: This is one of the most beautiful meadows in the Flagstaff area. The backdrop to this serene, aspen filled meadow are the San Francisco peaks which are the highest in the state. Just beyond the meadow lies the trailhead to the Inner Basin Trail which is one of my absolute favorites. Click here to read up on this majestic hike.
Aspen Loop Trail: The name says it all. It is an easy to moderate 2.5 mile hike through lush groves of aspen trees.
Snowbowl Chairlift: I have to admit, I've never done this in fall, but getting cozy with a significant other while overlooking some of the most beautiful scenery in Arizona sounds pretty good to me!
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
With two million acres of forest this magnificent mountain country in east-central Arizona encompasses the famous Mogollon Rim and the White Mountains. There is plenty to see in this stretch of Arizona and here are a few of my favorites for fall;
The Mogollon Rim: Pronounced (Muggy-Own) or (Mogi-On), this volcanic rim serves as a barrier between the cool high mountains and the lower desert. I recommend driving the Forest Service Road 300 road from the Payson to Pinetop-Lakeside. It is quite a long drive and there are many places to turn back onto a main road.
Mt. Baldy: This epic loop hike traverses through some of the state's most beautiful high country. The pinnacle of the hike takes you to the second highest peak in Arizona (the real peak is located on Native American protected land and access is not available to the public without permission). Click here for more information about this hike.
Greens Peak: Another good spot for fall colors is along Forest Road 117 which leads to Greens Peak. The road itself is unpaved and can get a little rough so I recommend a high clearance vehicle. The high country is a beautiful mix of pines and aspen.
Sedona is famous for it's amazing fall colors mixed with the backdrop of Oak Creek and red rocks. This captivating place is one of the more impressive parts of the state. Here are some great photogenic fall colors;
Schnebly Hill Rd: This stretch of road takes you from Sedona to the I-17 and is famous for it's views (you will need a high clearance vehicle). During the drive you will see reds, yellows, and browns scattered throughout Bear Wallow Canyon and on top of the Mogollon Rim. From the top you can overlook Sedona and get a great view of Flagstaff's San Francisco Peaks.
West Fork of Oak Creek Trail: This is one of the most popular trails in Arizona, especially during the fall. This trail winds through deep canyons as you stroll alongside Oak Creek. The fall colors are even more spectacular when reflected from the creek.
Hiking: Let's be honest, just about any hiking trail in red rock country is worth doing in fall. Here is my list of 5 Sedona Hikes Under 5 Miles.
Grand Canyon North Rim
The Grand Canyon is a marvel in it's own right but adding fall colors to the mix makes this place that much more of a destination worth coming to. The North Rim is 1,000 ft. higher and about 10 degrees colder than the south making it a great place to find some fall foliage. Having said this, the North Rim season is winding down and the lodge and restaurant close Thursday, Oct. 15. The will remain open to the public for day use until Tuesday, Dec. 1, unless the weather decides otherwise. So get on it and visit a few favorites listed here;
Viewing routes for driving: Approximately 15 miles northwest of the Forest Road 22 and 610, visitors within the vicinity of Three Lakes and Mile-and-a-Half Lake near Forest Road 217 and 811 can see changing colors. Other Forest Roads include 22, 462, 610, 612, 641, 758, 759, 760 and AZ Highway 67. (taken from National Forest Service).
Uncle Jim Trail: The Uncle Jim Trail is a short 5 mile loop trail that will bring you out to Uncle Jim Point where you will have a spectacular view of the upper portion of the North Kaibab Trail as well as both Roaring Spring and Bright Angel Canyons. The trailhead for the Uncle Jim Trail is 2 miles north of Grand Canyon Lodge on the entrance road. (taken from Kaibab.org)