Fall Colors--Current Forest Information

     Report updated: October 16, 2014

This report will be updated weekly.


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National Fall Color Resources


Fall colors typically begin mid to late September in the higher elevations of northern Arizona, with most of the peak viewing in early to the middle of October. The lower elevations usually peak in late October or early November and can continue through the month of November.

In New Mexico, fall colors typically begin mid to late September in the higher elevations, with most of the peak viewing in early to mid October. The lower elevations usually peak in mid to late October and can continue into early November.

 

   Arizona

 
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Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

The aspens are changing in the high elevations on the Mogollon Rim north of Overgaard and in the mountains south of Show Low and Springerville. Peak viewing should be throughout most of October and into early November.

On the Black Mesa Ranger District the aspens, oaks and willows have started to turn. Recommended viewing routes are located on Hwy. 260 between Heber-Overgaard and Payson at mile post 282. Turn north toward Woods Canyon Lake onto Forest Road (FR) 300. To see willow and oak trees travel down scenic FR 86 from Heber to Black Canyon Lake.

From Show Low go south on Hwy. 260 which then turns eastward at the Hon-Dah casino. The next 30 miles along Hwy. 260 is where you can enjoy the fall colors because aspen trees thrive at these higher elevations. This route can also take you to Sunrise Ski Park if you turn south at the Big Lake/Sunrise turnoff onto Hwy. 273.

In the Springerville area take Hwy. 260 west to Hwy. 261 and follow the signs to Big Lake. For another good route to view aspen take Hwy. 260 west from Eager about 15 miles and turn north on FR 117, go left at FR 61 and then left on FR 96 (high clearance and 4wd are recommended for FR 96).

On the Alpine Ranger District the best area to see fall colors is along Escudilla Mountain. From Alpine, go north on Hwy. 191 almost 6 miles, turn east at mile post 421 onto FR 56 (Terry Flat – Hulsey Lake road). Continue for 4.7 miles to the road fork that begins the 6 mile loop of Terry Flat atop Escudilla Mountain.

In the William Valley area you can see colors on FR 249 between Alpine and Big Lake. There may be road construction during the weekdays on FR 249 and along U.S. 191 from Hannagan Meadow to Blue Vista Viewpoint.

Be sure to bring a camera to capture the scenic views. Remember to dress appropriately to weather conditions and to wear proper footgear if planning a hike. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated! Schedule viewing on clear days during optimal sunlight from 8am-4pm and make sure to stay on the trail. If you pack it in, pack it out!

 
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Coconino National Forest

Fall colors are at their peak in the high country around Flagstaff and along the Mogollon Rim. 

Suggested sites near Flagstaff:

Hart Prairie (Accessed via Hwy. 180 and Forest Road (FR) 151 and/or FR 418, which also loops around the north end of the Peaks for a pretty view)

Lockett Meadow (Hwy. 89 north approx. 12 miles north of Flagstaff to FR 418/420 junction, then FR 552) The Inner Basin Trail is a good hike from here.

Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail/Kendrick Mountain Wilderness (via Hwy. 180 north of Flagstaff.

Suggested Drives on the Mogollon Rim District (north of Pine and Strawberry near Blue Ridge):

FR 321 aka “Dane Ridge” (Hwy. 87 to FR 95 next to the Mogollon Rim Ranger Station, right on FR 96, right on FR 321)

FR 300 aka “Rim Road” or “General Crook Trail” (Hwy. 87 or Hwy. 260 to FR 300, 2.5 miles east of Hwy. 260, 10 miles north of Strawberry)

Not too much has changed yet in the lower elevations around Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona. Their fall colors tend to trail a week or two behind.

For more information click on the Coconino National Forest link above.

 
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Coronado National Forest

On the Santa Catalina Ranger District the drive up Mt. Lemmon out of Tucson has plenty of fall color to offer. The road to Mt. Bigelow at mile marker 19.5 is also showing colors. Nice hikes include Sunset Trail, Aspen Trail, Aspen Draw Trail, and Marshall Gulch Trail.

On the Safford Ranger District the leaves are now changing but heavy rains last week may have affected the number of leaves on the trees. The best color can be found on Mt. Graham above 9,500 feet in elevation.

On the Douglas Ranger District a few aspens changing in the South Fork Area.  It was noted by an employee that from Monte Vista Peak Lookout, little color was showing. In 1-2 more weeks maybe some fall colors will be more evident. At that time try the Crest Trail by Fly’s Peak. Some roads in the area are still closed due to recent storm damage. Please call the Douglas Ranger District before going. 520-364-3468

 
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Kaibab National Forest

Fall colors are peaking on all 3 of the Kaibab National Forest Ranger Districts. On the North Kaibab Ranger District and the Tusayan Ranger District, approximately 85% of the trees are changing color, but some are starting to shed their colorful autumn coats. We expect to see color change for about 2 more weeks, before most trees are barren of the colorful foliage. On the Williams Ranger District, the fall colors continue to peak.

On the East side of the North Kaibab Ranger District, Forest Road (FR) 612 and FR 610 are good spots to observe the fall colors. Approximately 15 miles northwest of FR 22 and FR 610, visitors may also observe fall colors within the vicinity of Three Lakes and Mile-and-a-Half Lake near FR 217 and FR 811. Other roads with significant color change on the North Kaibab Ranger District include: FR 22, FR 462, FR 641, FR 758, FR 759, FR 760, and Arizona Highway 67.

The North Kaibab Ranger District’s Rainbow Rim Trail offers some spectacular views of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. There are five vista points from which to view the North Rim from within the Forest boundaries and all are accessible to Forest visitors.

Stop in and visit the North Kaibab Ranger District in Fredonia, AZ. We can provide visitors with a Motor Vehicle Use Map and assist in answering any questions.

On the Tusayan Ranger District, the Arizona Trail along the Coconino Rim, which begins at the Grandview Lookout Tower on FR 310, and Tusayan Bike Trail #4 are the best areas to view color change in the oaks. Visitors can also view plenty of oak trees changing colors along FR 310 (high-clearance vehicles are recommended but not necessary). Also the Arizona Trail (which begins 1.5 miles south of Desert View Drive at the Grandview Fire Lookout Tower) offers forest visitors with great views of the changing oaks.

On the Williams Ranger District, the aspens on Bill Williams Mountain are peaking.   

For more information click on the Kaibab National Forest link above.

 
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Prescott National Forest

  • There are currently no fall colors to report

 
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Tonto National Forest

Peak viewing at higher elevations of the Payson, Pleasant Valley and Globe Ranger districts is late October to mid-November.

So far we are seeing the most color along riparian areas in the Payson Ranger District. The cottonwoods, sycamores and willows are turning yellow along the East Verde River, Tonto Creek and Christopher Creek, color change is estimated at 30%.

Recommended drives on the Payson Ranger District:

The East Verde River: take Hwy. 87 north through Payson, turn right on Forest Road (FR) 199 (Houston Mesa Rd). After seven miles the road begins to follow the river. Turn left on Control Rd (FR64), then turn right on FR 32. After two miles the road begins to follow the river again, continue on FR 32 to the Washington Park Trailhead.

Tonto Creek: from Payson go east on Hwy. 260 for 16 miles. Just past mile marker 269 turn left on FR 289. This road follows Tonto Creek for four miles and ends at the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery.

Christopher Creek: from Payson go east on Hwy. 260 for 19 miles, turn left on FR 284 and follow it to See Canyon Trailhead.

 Recommended drives on the Pleasant Valley Ranger District:

Sycamore trees along Workman Creek, Rose Creek and Reynolds Creek on the south end of the district are starting to turn. Color change is estimated at 30%. These riparian areas can be accessed off State Route 288 (FR 512) south of Young, AZ.

For views in the Roosevelt Lake area go north on State Route 288 at its junction with Hwy. 188 for approximately 22 miles.

From Payson go east on Hwy. 260 for approximately 33 miles, turn south on FR 512 for approximately 50 miles to the Workman Creek/Rose Creek area.

Recommended drives on the Globe Ranger District:

Pinal Mountains: oaks and small pockets of aspens are beginning to turn color in the Signal Peak area. Maples are just starting to turn red in the upper reaches of Icehouse and Sixshooter Canyons. These areas can be accessed from FR 651 adjacent to Pinal and Upper Pinal Campgrounds. From Globe follow Jess Hayes Road to the junction of Icehouse Canyon Rd (FR 112) and Sixshooter Canyon Road (FR 222). Continue on FR 112 for 2 ¼ miles to the junction of FR 55 and FR 112. Take the right fork and continue for 2 ¼ miles on FR 55 then turn left on FR 651. Proceed 10 miles on FR 651 to the Pinal Campground area.

Recommended drives on the Cave Creek Ranger District:

Seven Springs Area: sycamore, cottonwood and willow trees in this riparian area are estimated at 20% color change. From Scottsdale go north on Pima Rd. and turn right on Cave Creek Rd. which turns into FR 24. Continue north on FR 24 for 18 miles to the Seven Springs Area.

Please contact the District Office of the area you plan to visit for current road conditions and other updates.

Cave Creek Ranger District, 40202 N. Cave Creek Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85262, 480-595-3300

Globe Ranger District, 7680 S. Six Shooter Canyon Rd., Globe, Arizona 85501, 928-402-6200

Payson Ranger District, 1009 E. Hwy 260, Payson, Arizona 85541, 928-474-7900

Pleasant Valley Ranger District, P.O. Box 450, FR 63, Young, Arizona 85554, 928-462-4300

 

 

 

   New Mexico

 
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Carson National Forest

Fall colors are done for the season on the Carson National Forest.

 
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Cibola National Forest

On the Sandia Ranger District the colors along Crest Highway (Hwy. 536) are at or past their peak.

At the 4th of July Campground on the Mountainair Ranger District a many of the leaves are dropping without changing color. There is some color from the aspen and oak, but not much from the maples. Forest Road (FR) 55 out of Tajique is the access to the 4th of July and there is a nice hiking trail at the campground. Conditions are very rough on FR 55 beyond the campground. High clearance vehicles are strongly recommended if you drive further.

On the Magdalena Ranger District peak viewing is expected in late October.

Viewing routes on the Magdalena district include:

From Socorro take Hwy 60 West to FR 235 (water canyon) in Magdalena Mountains. Then up to the Langmuir Observatory.

From NM Hwy 60 between Magdalena and Socorro go on FR 235 to  Water Canyon, then go up FR 235, go to timber peak area along the crest, (Timber peak ridge), 9,000-10,000 ft. Please note that FR 235 is extremely rough due to wash out and heavy equipment on the road with little turn around space. If viewing from this road please take great caution.

For a good hike take trail #70-9,500 ft. from Water Canyon go up the mountain toward the observatory in Magdalena Mountains.

On the Mt. Taylor Ranger District Peak viewing is expected in mid-October.

On the Kiowa & Rita Blanca National Grasslands peak colors are expected in late October and early November in Mills Canyon. Take I-25 north to Wagon Mound, then east on Hwy. 120 to Roy, and north on Hwy 39 to Mills. The canyon entrance will be on the left, 210 miles from Albuquerque. High clearance vehicles are recommended and four-wheel drive will be necessary if it has rained recently. Be aware that there is only one way in and one way out of the canyon, so please take necessary precautions in regards to weather and time of day. Roy will be the last place that you will be able to get food or gas until you return to Roy upon departure or for 30 miles if you continue to Clayton or Springer.

 
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Gila National Forest

The leaves are starting to change on the Gila National Forest in the higher elevations with peak viewing expected the 3rd or 4th week of October for most of the Forest.

In the Glenwood Ranger District aspens and oaks are in full color at the highest elevations and an abundance of wildflowers are blooming at lower elevations so some hillsides are currently a bright yellow color and are visible along U.S. Highway 180. The trees along the San Francisco River are just starting to turn; those will peak later in the month.                

Panoramic views can be seen from U.S. Highway 180 at the Aldo Leopold Vista and from pull-offs and campsites located at various points along the highway. Continuing north, turn right onto New Mexico Highway 12 to the Reserve Ranger District. This intimate state highway, winds around Largo Canyon and the San Francisco River, leading visitors up and into the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

Golden colors are beginning along the Mimbres Valley and along State Highway 35. The Gila River area around Forks and Grapevine campgrounds are also experiencing vivid colors. State Highway 15, accessed only from Silver City, New Mexico or from the east on New State Highway 35, offers spectacular views of the Gila Wilderness and ends at the Gila Cliff Dwellings Visitor Center.

State Highway 15 from Silver City can be very narrow at certain points and is not recommended for trailers over 20 feet in length. These visitors may take an alternate route on State Highway 35 that intersects with State Highway 15 leading up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Given the shear drop-offs along the way, it is well worth the ride for breathtaking views of the oldest, most celebrated Wilderness in the country.

Due to the extensive flood damage along State Highway 152, fall color viewing is not possible in the Black Range Ranger District.

 
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Lincoln National Forest

On the Sacramento Ranger District aspen color varies between 8200 and 8900 ft. elevation.  Some areas have already reached their peak and are fading, or the leaves have already fallen. Other areas are at their peak. This is probably the last opportunity for viewing the peaking color.

For a nice drive take US Highway 82 east to Cloudcroft.  Turn right onto State Highway 130 for about 3 miles.  Turn right (south) on the Sunspot Scenic Byway (6563).  Russia Canyon can be accessed from the Sunspot Scenic Byway (6563) by turning left (east) on County Road 4.  The Mexican Trestle Canyon can be viewed from the overlook on US Highway 82.

For a nice hike take US Highway 82 to Cloudcroft.  Turn right at the Trestle Recreation Area.  From there Trail 5001B can be accessed and leads to the overlook on the south side of the trestle.  The Trestle Recreation Area will only be open through Saturday, October 18, 2014.

On the Smokey Bear Ranger District the color is peaking and will go down the mountain fast as we are starting to get into freezing temperatures at night!  This weekend is probably the last weekend to catch the gold up high!  You may also see the trees change color in Carrizo Canyon if you are heading to the Inn of the Mountain Gods from Ruidoso on Carrizo Canyon Road, but they are peaking now and starting to lose leaves. The Highway 70 corridor from Tularosa heading east towards Roswell is beginning to change to gold. This drive from Bent/Mescalero through the Hondo Valley should be beautiful with golden cottonwoods for the next 2-3 weeks. 

For a good drive head to the Ski Apache Area. From Ruidoso take Highway 48 north up the mountain, turn left at Highway 532 (the road to Ski Apache) and drive up to Windy Point and park there for the best view of the aspen turning gold.

If you want a nice hike the Crest Trail #25 is a rim trail and has some wonderful views.  The trail is actually over 21 miles long and begins near Monjeau Lookout goes by Ski Apache and ends in Nogal Canyon.  From Highway 532 take a right at FR17 and drive up to the Crest Trailhead or catch the trail near Ski Apache or from Nogal Canyon.

 
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Santa Fe National Forest

The leaves are at their peak now on most of the forest and should continue for another week.

On the Espanola Ranger District the aspens have fully shown. With the cooler weather, some of the areas have started going gray and the tress have lost their leaves, while others still have color. One of the best viewing locations in the Santa Fe area is along State Route (SR) 475, the highway to the Santa Fe Ski Area. This highway starts at the edge of Santa Fe, at the Bishop’s Lodge Road/Artist Road Junction. State Route 475 ends at the Santa Fe Ski Area. One can drive back the way they came, or take FR 102 down Pacheco Canyon to Tesuque and then back to Santa Fe.

There are still some scenic fall color drives to enjoy on the Cuba Ranger District.  From Highway 550 in Cuba take Highway 126 going east. Along SR 126 the colors are beautiful for the next 15 miles from Cuba. You can also take the drive on FR 103 off 126 all the way to the Coyote boundary on FR 315. Before taking the drive it might be good to check with the Cuba Ranger District at 575-289-3264 for color reports.

On the Coyote Ranger District the colors are at their peak now. Highway 96 from the small town of Coyote through Gallina has some beautiful changing colors with a mixture of oak, aspen, and cottonwoods which change in stages starting with the oak’s reds and burnt orange, to the deep golden of the aspen and cottonwoods. Forest Road 103 and 93 will also offer several spectacular views of changing aspens and oaks.  Forest Road 77 off Highway 96 in Gallina also has aspen and oak stands, which change color in stages, with the oak changing first followed by the aspen.  Forest Road 151 off Highway 84 also has a beautiful change of colors, mostly cottonwoods and oak stands along the river’s edge.

The Chama River corridor has spectacular views, which should be at their peak for another week. Forest Road 100 and Forest Road 99 off Highway 96 in Youngsville also offer outstanding colors with huge open meadows and aspen stands along the edging of the meadows with some oak interspersed. 

On the Jemez Ranger District there is still not much change in any of the areas of the District. Areas with greatest amount of color are in the higher elevations, around 70 percent, and about 45 to 50 percent in the lower elevations.

Recommended viewing routes for driving are along Highway 4 towards Los Alamos and also along FR 376 past the Gillman tunnels on to Highway 126.

Recommended hiking routes would be Trail 137 (East Fork Trail) to Jemez Falls.  Another good hike for a view of very beautiful colors is the Cerro Grande Hike.

On the Pecos Ranger District at 7,000 feet the leaves are just past peak. The fall colors are on the decline at all higher elevations.

 



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