Fall Color In Arizona

For a few weeks, you can go up north and see colorful leaves. It helps me a lot. I need to see leaves change color in between the hot season and the cold season here.

Me in the woods
Me in the woods

 

It’s fall, and that means the seasons are changing. It’s not all that apparent in the city (we noticed it was over 100 degrees one day- and then suddenly 80 degrees the next.) But if you go out of town, you can see more changes than just the temperature. I headed up to Flagstaff for some great fall color.

 

The Mountain
The Mountain

 

I was headed for the hiking trails just below Snowbowl Ski Resort. The mountain has more aspen trees than you find down around the town. When I arrived at noon, it was 48 degrees on the mountain. The night before, it had been below 32 degrees and there was a tiny dusting of snow. It didn’t stick, but it was the first snow of the year.

 

No more ferns & grass, but lots of color
No more ferns & grass, but lots of color

 

You can tell there had been a frost the night before, because there was very little undergrowth left. I hiked The Katchina Trail because I hiked it in the spring, and I wanted to compare.

 

Trail Head
Trail Head

 

 In the spring, this trail was all ferns and lush green plants. Now it’s covered in bright yellow falling leaves. It’s still beautiful- though in a different way.

 

Sign in sheet for the Katchina trail
Sign in sheet for the Katchina trail

 

 If you hike the Katchina trail or any forest service trail, always be sure it sign in at the trail head. This helps the forest service track how many people use the trail, and it also leaves a record of where you were just in case anything were to happen to you.

 

Holding a fallen leaf
Holding a fallen leaf

 

 I was excited to dig my sweaters out of the closet for the first time in months, and I definitely needed one! Under the trees it’s dark and chilly as can be. Dress warm if you’re going up north, particularly if you’ll be there later in the day than I was.

 

The picnic rock
The picnic rock

 

This rock is a favorite picnic spot of mine. I like to bring a blanket to sit on and some snacks, and just sit and enjoy the woods. Also, the view looking up when laying on the rock is pretty great.

 

Laying on the rock looking up
Laying on the rock looking up

 

There are several trail heads in the area. The Katchina trail is the last one before you are actually on Snowbowl property. But there are many others, and they all offer long walks around the mountain and beautiful sights.

 

As close as my car has ever come to "off road."
As close as my car has ever come to "off road."

 

This particular meadow (above) always catches my eye because of the amount of aspen trees around it.

 

Me (in my "Firefly" shirt) and aspens
Me (in my "Firefly" shirt) and aspens

 

And here I am enjoying them. The leaves will stay of the trees for another week or two, unless there is a huge storm (which I doubt) so if you haven’t been up north yet, don’t worry! Take a day sometime before Halloween and head up.

 

Bright red tree
Bright red tree

 

Oak Creek Canyon has some very pretty colorful leaves every year as well. Even in Flagstaff, there was a variety of colorful views to enjoy.

 

Very orange bush
Very orange bush

 

Get up north and check it out! It always feels a lot more like fall once you’ve seen some leaves falling.

Taking the 89A through AZ

The 89a is a highway that takes a wandering path through arizona and connects seveal neat places to stop and enjoy.

The open road heading out of town
The open road heading out of town

 

I know you’re supposed to get your kicks on Route 66. But in Arizona, it’s the 89A that hits all the best spots. Don’t think I’m knocking Route 66, because it’s fun too. But the 89A is my favorite! This blog details a 6 hour road trip (accounting for stops to eat and hike) that you’ll love.

 

You can pick up the 89A in Wickenburg. You just take the US 60 out of town, and hit the 93 through Wickenburg, and you’ll see the signs for the 89A. It’s not far from Phoenix at all. While you’re in Wickenburg, stop at the Tasty Freeze for a snack and check out this adorable little western town.

 

The next town you come to is Prescott. There are a lot of cute shops in Prescott, and an old car dealership with some really beautiful classic cars. Stop and check out the many coffee shops and boutiques.

 

On the streets of Jerome
On the streets of Jerome

 

Jerome will be your next stop. This little town was founded as an artist’s collective, and it’s still mostly art galleries and craft shops. In Jerome you will find paintings, jewelry, and leather work that is unique and fun. Some of the stuff has a western feel to it, but most of it is just neat stuff.

 

Art in a Jermone shop
Art in a Jermone shop

 

You’ll also see a lot of rocks for sale. Mining turned out to be a great source of revenue for Jerome. It has done some unfortunate things to the country side. But then, so much of Arizona has copper pits and strip mines that I am almost used to the colorful slag heaps left behind as a legacy to what is underground here in AZ.

 

Leaving Jerome and the mining area
Leaving Jerome and the mining area

 

I passed right through Cottonwood. I am sure you could stop, but I was eager to get on to Sedona. Something about those red rocks calls to me. The landscape in Sedona doesn’t even look like it belongs on this planet. It’s like some otherworldly scene you have to see to believe.

 

Driving into Sedona and seeing red rocks
Driving into Sedona and seeing red rocks

 

The shopping in Sedona is out of my price range. But if you like western art and you can afford it, Sedona has got what you’re looking for. In addition, there are the pink jeep tours, which give you a great view natures sculptures in red. The formations were formed from wind erosion over millions of years, but it only takes an hour to tour them and get an up-close look.

 

The Sedona street, with scultures and art galleries
The Sedona street, with scultures and art galleries

 

Leaving Sedona on the 89A you find yourself driving through Oak Creek Canyon. This is a wonderful place to stop and hike. If you’re there in the summer, you can check out slide rock, which is a natural water slide formed by the creek flowing over the sandstone. It’s a refreshing stop for a dip.

 

Oak Creek Canyon
Oak Creek Canyon

 

As you’re leaving Oak Creek Canyon and heading for Falgstaff, there is a senic outlook. You want to stop. It’s a nice view, and the Apache Tribe sells some great art there.

 

Me checking out the view
Me checking out the view

 

Last stop in Flagstaff. Part mountain town, part college town, Flagstaff reminds me of a low-key version of Telluride or Aspen. It’s classy, and funky, and a great place to end your drive and stay the night. (And if you have had enough driving after 6 hours on the 89A, don’t worry! Take the I-17 back to Phoenix and you’ll be there in two hours.)

 

Mural in old town Flaggstaff
Mural in old town Flaggstaff

 

While you’re in Flagg, check out the town with its interesting murals and neat little shops. And of course, there is great hiking! Try snowbowl for ferns, aspen trees, and beauty like nowhere else in Arizona.

 

Hiking in snowbowl
Hiking in snowbowl