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.