5 Top Spots to Watch Leaves Turn in Northern Arizona

October 9, 2018

We all look forward to crisp autumn air and the beauty of changing leaves that occurs in northern Arizona. As the long summer winds down, Arizona residents are anxious to emerge from their homes and do a bit of traveling. Here is where you’ll find some of Arizona’s best fall color. Peak season for fall colors usually runs from mid-October well into November.

Here’s a great source of information: check the Leafometer to find the peak of colors in the area you will be visiting. https://www.flagstaffarizona.org/leafometer/

Prescott has a huge variety of trees in the Prescott National Forest, including ash, maple, oaks, cottonwoods, aspen, poplars, and sycamore trees. Your best bet for finding fall color is usually near lakes, waterways, and drainages. Often fall colors in the forest are found closer to the ground:  Fetid goosefoot covers the foothills and bursts with golds, oranges, and reds, and Virginia Creeper (a tree-climbing vine) turns a vivid red before losing its leaves for the winter.

 Hart Prairie on the western flank of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff

Hart Prairie Road (Forest Road 151) winds through high meadows and thick conifer forests of aspens. Enjoy watching golden leaves rain down with every gentle breeze. No need for a four-wheel vehicle, a passenger car works fine. FR 151 intersects U.S. 180 near mile marker 226 on the south end and at mile marker 235 on the north end, so you can put together a nice loop. The chairlift at Arizona Snowbowl is also a fun way to see the fall colors.

State Route 89A through Oak Creek Canyon between Flagstaff and Sedona is one of the best drives to see fall foliage during autumn months. Be sure to make a stop at West Fork Trail. Try to arrive early to get a parking spot ($10 fee for the parking lot). The trail boasts a vast variety of trees, including willows, boxelders, velvet ash and bigtooth maples. Absolutely gorgeous during October.

The Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside, and Greer communities boast beautiful forest drives. Greens Peak off Forest Road 117 north of State Route 260, between Sunrise Park Resort and the town of Greer, offers a bird’s-eye view of the expanse of trees below. Blue Vista Viewpoint and the areas around Alpine and Big Lake are also great lookouts, the latter is off State Route 273 south of Eagar, though the area is still mildly recovering from the Wallow Fire of 2011.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Missed your chance to see fall foliage in October? Peak fall foliage at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park outside of Superior, just an hour east of Phoenix, is a great bet for late bloomers. The arboretum hosts its annual Arizona’s Fall Foliage Finale during mid- to late-November. Leaves from honey locust, pomegranate, and soapberry trees offer light yellow to deep copper and golden tones. Walnut trees reach a dark red. At 323 acres, the arboretum is the state’s largest and oldest botanical garden and features more than 3,000 types of plants – so there’s certainly something to see.

If you love Prescott, but like your independence, visit Talking Rock talkingrockaz.com. Thirty minutes from downtown Prescott, this private, guard-gated master-planned community offers a variety of home sites and new customized homes, whether you want to live on the golf course or adjacent to Arizona State Trust Land. Home sites are ½ to 10-acres in size, and ready-to-move-in homes are also available.