Red maple leaf in the West Fork of Oak Creek, Sedona, Arizona

“Floating”: A red maple leaf floats along the West Fork of Oak Creek, Sedona, Arizona

Sedona:  Hands down, the best color in the Sedona area falls in the iconic West Fork of Oak Creek canyon.  The maples are screaming with vivacious reds (best are about a half-mile stroll along the trail), and the willows, boxelders, and ash are showing golden hues.  A few windy days have blown some leaves off the trees, creating a carpet of color on the ground as well.  But arrive early!   The parking lot was full and a line of cars were waiting to get by 10 am!  In addition, spots along the creek north of the West Fork trail head offer similar photo ops along Oak Creek without the crowds.  As you drive south of the trail head on 89A, however, you’ll notice the color hasn’t quite developed to it’s peak potential yet.  We’re likely a a few days away from areas like Grasshopper Point and Red Rock Crossing peaking…some of these areas are looking a little browned out, so it’s possible we won’t see rich color in these spots this year.

Cottonwood/Camp Verde area:  The cottonwoods and sycamore trees along the Verde River from Camp Verde up to Cottonwood and Clarkdale need a little more time to develop, easily another week or two.  Though a few trees are currently recognizing it’s autumn here in Arizona and showing spotty vibrant colors, much of the river bed is still lime green or yellowy-green.

Prescott:  Surprisingly, the cottonwood trees at Watson Lake and the Watson Woods Riparian Area appear to be peaking.  Walk less than half a mile on the Peavine Trail in the morning or evening to capture golden yellows.  A visit to the Watson Lake Park in the morning will reveal showy cottonwood trees adding a splash of contrasting color to the granite jumbo rocks.  Head up to the overlook for a more aerial view or spend time at the boat launch to capture images along the shoreline.

Autumn at Watson Lake

“Autumn at Watson Lake:” Cottonwood trees add a splash of gold to the granite jumbo rocks at Watson Lake, Prescott, Arizona


Mogollon Maple Umbrella

The Mogollon Rim is at peak fall color on the rim road FR 300. Best locations for Maple and Aspen are FR 208, FR 80, FR 415 and the Bear Loop 89. Most color runs north from the rim road in the shallow valleys on the sides of Forest Roads and require some short hikes. Under the Rim Christopher, See and Horton are all starting to show color and should be peak in the next few weeks. Horton is looking best now with peak maples on the eastern slopes 1-2 miles in with better color the higher you go. Happy shooting everyone.

Horton Cliff Cascade

Autumn on the Rim

View of the Grand Canyon near the Ken Patrick Trail, North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Wow, what a difference a year makes! Some of you might recall last year’s report from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon:  patchy and late. (See original blog post:  wildinarizona.com/wordpress/?p=110.)

Not this year!

With the perfect mix of rain, sun, and cooler temperatures, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and surrounding Kaibab Plateau trees are showing off a brilliant palette of color and right on time.   Get your cameras out for a spectacular mix of yellow, orange, and red aspen, rusty Gambel oak, red maples, yellow New Mexican locust, red holly, and red wild geranium all peaking together!

But things are moving fast.  Like “limey-green-leaves-on-Monday-turn-a-rich-golden-yellow-by-Wednesday” and “Rich-golden-leaves-on-Monday-fall-to-the-ground-by-Wednesday” fast, thanks to below-freezing overnight temperatures in the meadows and valleys.  The show should last another week, but probably not much longer, especially if the high country sees any high winds in the days to come. (Continues below photo.)

Spotlight on aspen tree in South Canyon, Kaibab Plateau, Arizona

Spotlight on aspen tree in South Canyon, Kaibab Plateau, Arizona

You’ll start to see color as you drive along Highway 67 from Jacobs Lake to the park entrance.  A spin down any dirt road on the Kaibab Plateau will reveal seemingly endless photographic opportunities.  Early this week, we specifically explored FR610 to Saddle Mountain, which showed crazy good color along the road, particularly as we drove closer to the trail head.

Colorful leaves of autumn

Colorful leaves of autumn on FR610 on the Kaibab Plateau, Arizona

Inside the park, many of the previously burned areas have smaller aspens growing in between burned snags.  The hardest part is finding a safe pull-out (look for paved or previously used gravel spots and walk).  The “Y” turnoff for Point Imperial and Cape Royal along the North Rim Scenic Drive and numerous trails, including the Trancept, the Widforss, and Ken Patrick (towards Point Imperial), offer the best color right now.

Flagstaff – which I drove past en route to the Canyon – appears to be peaking at the higher elevations on the San Francisco Peaks.  The lower elevations were about 50% green on Monday, but made much progress before I drove through again on Wednesday (estimate ~10-20% green) so places like Lockett Meadow and the Bearjaw Trail are likely starting to peak right now.

The Verde Valley area is still green as expected for this time of year, but start looking for color around Montezuma’s Well, Beaver Creek, and even Sedona in the next two weeks or so.

Happy shooting!
~Colleen

Orange-tipped aspen in South Canyon, Kaibab Plateau, Arizona

Orange-tipped aspen in South Canyon, Kaibab Plateau, Arizona

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