It IS possible to experience vibrant fall colors in Arizona, you just need to know where (and when) to look. Several of Arizona's state parks have amazing viewing opportunities and we can't wait for you to experience them all! Follow this comprehensive guide to the best autumn leaves viewing locations throughout your state parks and you’ll be sure to fall in love with Arizona all over again…
A number of deciduous tree species call Dead Horse Ranch home, and they put on a spectacular display for autumn aficionados. In late October, the Cottonwood (Populous fremontii), Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina), Netleaf Hackberry (Celtis reticulate), and Willow (Salix gooddingii) begin to put on their final show of the year. The fall color display at this central Arizona location is fierce and relatively short lived. Take a stroll around the lagoons and watch in amazement as the sun paints yellow leaves a new shade of gold. The reflection of this colorful show is equally impressive as cast upon the surface of the lagoons. Explore into the riparian zone of the Verde River Valley to see even more colorful transformations.
The riparian zone of Red rock State Park is loaded with deciduous trees that put on quite the spectacle each year. Fremont cottonwood (Populous fremontii), sycamore (Plantanus wrightii), velvet ash (Fraxinus velutina), and Arizona alder (Alnus oblongifolia) show their true colors from late October through the first couple weeks of November. A number of trails rated from easily accessible to moderately difficult will lead visitors into the best fall colors viewing areas of the park. You may have an experience with either mule deer or javelina during your hike. If you do, fall animal photos always turn out amazing with the drab coats against a background of popping fall colors. Be sure to capture your adventure with some photos of this amazing Sedona park.
Slide Rock State Park is home to a variety of trees that show their true colors every fall. Emory oak (Quercus emoryi), Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii), willow (Salix Gooddingii), box elder (Acer negundo), and Arizona sycamore (Plantanus wrightii) trees show off and provide a gorgeous contrast against the red rocks of Oak Creek Canyon. Both upland and riparian zones should be explored for best exposure to the colorful nature of this quaint park on a creek. Coues whitetail deer can be seen hanging out in the apple orchards on most days, and the variety of resident and migrating birds really accentuate the autumn color display. Visit Red Rock and Slide Rock in the same day for maximum fall color exposure in a variety of Arizona’s zones.
In order to maximize your fall viewing experience we've mapped out a great fall colors viewing experience for you! We realize your time is valuable, and understand that this beautiful once-per-year phenomenon is best tackled with a plan. Luckily, this plan encompasses some of the most beautiful autumn viewing destinations Arizona has to offer. Within this trip, you will also have the option to hike, see wildlife, go fishing, or recreate outdoors in a variety of other ways while staying at a campsite or cabin at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.
Tell us your fall story from the parks, or check out some of the stories from other visitors about their adventures. There's always more to do at an Arizona state park!