The search for fall colors in Arizona is always a treat.
Many think of Arizona as a dry, desolate desert, which wouldn’t be totally wrong, but they’d also be pleasantly surprised at what magic awaits in northern Arizona.
Before the digital age began taking over, I imagine searching for fall was a pretty lonely experience, only done by those who truly enjoyed being out in nature. But now, in the three-week window where fall hits northern Arizona, Flagstaff and the surrounding areas are torpedoed with visitors. There’s only one reason for this: social media.
I could go on and on about the pros and cons of social media, but we’ll leave that for another day.
A Guide to Finding Fall Fall Colors in Arizona
North of Flagstaff, Lockett Meadow is in the inner basin behind Humphries Peak, the tallest mountain in Arizona. This is the best place to find fall colors in Arizona. I imagine they’ve monitored car numbers in the past, but in 2019 they limited the area to 100 cars at a time, both due to the parking lot’s size and to keep the narrow road from looking like Los Angeles
in rush hour all the time.
The drive up, about 45 minutes from Flagstaff, takes you on a dirt road for about 10 miles. I was able to make it in my Prius, so your small 4-door cars shouldn’t have any issue with it. However, there is one narrow spot with a considerable drop on one side. Maybe don’t look.
Once into the inner basin, it’s basically up to you how much you want to hike or walk. There’s a nice 1.5-mile path that will get you up into the aspens for fall colors, but after that, you can theoretically walk as far as you want. (There are also a bunch of camping opportunities too.) So the gang and I did a quick walk (well, not quick, as we were taking photos every five seconds) and enjoyed the heck out of the scenery.
If we had gone a week later, we probably would have had even better colors, but it was still lovely to get out and enjoy the fall colors in Arizona.
West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon
A few weeks after Lockett Meadow, I headed up to the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon as the fall colors had sprung at the lower elevations. The west fork location, called Call of the Canyon, has a small parking lot (plan accordingly), leading you into a Zion-style canyon that is simply stunning.
The walk is flat – around three miles one way – and meanders throughout the canyon, forcing you to cross the creek over ten times. When you go will determine how deep the water will be. When I went in late October, it was hardly running, but in springtime, the water is movin’.
It was lovely to walk around in the cool weather and enjoy the stunning fall colors in Arizona. Being surrounded by colorful trees and towering canyon walls was majestic.
I hope you’re enjoying fall in whatever neck of the woods you live in, and have a great holiday season!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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