Arizona may not be the immediate destination that comes to mind when thinking of places to observe the magnificently changing colors of fall foliage. Keep in mind, though, that elevations change dramatically in Arizona’s mountain ranges, and great fall scenery is just a short day trip away from the Phoenix metropolitan area. Fall foliage season generally peaks from the end of September through the beginning of October, so to assist in your planning, call the Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-354-4595 to find out where things are really popping.
The Coconino National Forest encompasses areas of Flagstaff, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Sedona, Williams and Winslow. Elevations range from 2,600′ to 12,633′, covering nearly two million acres. The best drives for fall foliage scenery include the Lake Mary-Long Valley Road, Oak Creek Canyon (be sure to check out hiking along the West Fork), and the Mogollon Rim Road. Stop by The Arboretum at Flagstaff for some great views of the San Francisco peaks.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest encompasses two million acres in east-central Arizona. Views from the Mogollon Rim’s 7,600- foot elevation are spectacular – it extends two hundred miles from Flagstaff into western New Mexico and provides for plenty of pull-offs to enjoy the vistas. The White Mountains area, though primarily inhabited by pine trees, are also beautiful in the fall. The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest encompasses parts of Springerville, Alpine, Overgaard, and Pinetop-Lakeside.
The Kaibab National Forest encompasses, in part, areas of the North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s a great area to visit any time of year, but if you happen to be up there, make the effort to get to the less-often-visited (and therefore less crowded) North Rim.
If you happen to miss out on prime fall foliage viewing in the rest of the state, check out the Boyce Thompson Arboretum near the town of Superior. The Arboretum features a Fall Foliage Finale in the latter half of November and into the first few weeks of December. Patrons can enjoy the changing color in the Chinese pistachios and other trees of the area.