Experience Fall Colors on the Kaibab National Forest

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Overview of fall colors on the Kaibab National Forest

The Kaibab National Forest has three geographically-separated ranger districts, each with its own fall color offerings every year.

  • The North Kaibab Ranger District by far offers the most in terms of amount and vibrancy of fall colors. The season is typically short but well worth a drive to the Kaibab Plateau. People will be blown away by the yellows, oranges and reds of the aspen trees that are offset by their beautiful white bark as well as by the evergreen trees surrounding the aspen stands.

  • The Tusayan Ranger District is a bit more subdued in terms of fall color but boasts its own unique take on the season. Oak trees are scattered broadly and frequently give us some amazing oranges and reds to spice up the already gorgeous scenery. The Tusayan Ranger District has the least amount of elevation change of the three districts of the Kaibab, which is why its fall colors tend to be more subdued, but a mountain bike ride through the oaks will easily scratch the fall color itch of even the most discerning leaf aficionado.

  • The Williams Ranger District offers some eye-popping fall colors that are largely found in confined patches on our sky islands, which are the high elevation areas on the tops of mountains and knolls. Bill Williams Mountain and Kendrick Mountain tend to be the show-stoppers in terms of color each fall. Visits to either of these areas will not disappoint the leaf peepers among us.

Best times for viewing fall colors on the Kaibab National Forest

Fall color season in northern Arizona tends to be exceptionally short. It typically only lasts a few weeks, and that is very dependent on weather conditions. Typically, the estimated peak viewing period falls sometime in the month of October. Frequently, peak color occurs the first or second weeks of the month, but this is highly variable.

How can I view photos of the fall colors that I might be able to see on the Kaibab National Forest?

Before you travel, you can check out the kinds of fall colors you are likely to see when you visit. Go to www.bit.ly/KNF-FallColors to view a collection of photos from each of our three ranger districts.


North Kaibab District

  • Current highlights: Good spots to view fall colors right now include areas in or around East Rim, DeMotte, Rainbow Rim, Tater Canyon, Dry Park Meadow, Oquer Country, Bear Dip, Snow Play, Three Lakes, Mile-and-a-Half and Lookout Canyon.

  • Viewing routes for driving: Popular routes for viewing fall colors include Forest Roads 22, 206, 212, 214, 223, 264, 270, 271, 294, 461, 462, 610, 611, 612, 641, 758, 759, 760 and AZ Highway 67. 

  • Status: Peak time! Some of the leaves are slowly turning brown and falling due to a recent dusting of snow and some high winds associated with thunderstorms moving through the area. If you are planning to visit, make your trip very soon to get good viewing opportunities. To see a fall color timeline of the North Kaibab that shows images from different years and weather information from that year, click on Fall Color Timeline.

  • Location: The North Kaibab District borders the north rim of the Grand Canyon. See North Kaibab Ranger Station location map.

  • Recommended hiking routesRainbow Rim Trail offers spectacular views of the Grand Canyon's North Rim as well as fall colors.

  • Estimated peak viewing period: October 5 - 17.

Tusayan District

  • Viewing routes for driving: Popular routes for viewing fall colors include Forest Roads 302, 310, 307, 328, 328A and 688.  While the Tusayan District doesn't have many aspen trees, there are lots of oak trees that change color. Currently, the best views are travelling on the Forest Road 302 to the 310 up to the Grandview Lookout tower and back out of the forest from Forest Road 310.

  • Status: Peak time! The oak trees are quickly turning from yellow to brown.

  • Location: The Tusayan District surrounds the town of Tusayan and borders the south rim of the Grand Canyon. See Tusayan Ranger Station location map.

  • Recommended hiking routes: The portion of the Arizona Trail that begins at the Grandview Lookout Tower then heading south typically offers the best views of fall colors. The Tusayan Bike Trail #4 has oak trees that change color.

  • Estimated peak viewing period: October 17 - 31. 

Williams District

  • Viewing routes for driving: Popular routes for viewing fall colors include Forest Road 111 to the top of Bill Williams Mountain, County Road 73 and Forest Roads 105, 110, 140 and 354. In the Parks area, a beautiful drive to see outstanding fall colors is to take Forest Road 141 north through Spring Valley to Forest Road 144 and then turn right onto Forest Road 90 north of Kendrick Mountain Wilderness for stunning views of the San Francisco Peaks and Kendrick Mountain. 

  • Status: Peak time for colors, but closing in on almost being done since we received snow thus shortening the fall season temperatures. Take note of the fall colors in the higher elevations, such as on Bill Williams Mountain. The early snow this year along with some thunderstorm activity and associated wind has caused leaves to drop more quickly than usual. Don't wait too long to visit if you're planning a trip!

  • Location: The Williams District surrounds the city of Williams and stretches both north and south of I-40. See Williams Ranger Station location map.

  • Recommended hiking routes: The Bill Williams Mountain Trail and the Sycamore Rim Trail often offer great views of changing fall colors. During peak periods each year, Kendrick Mountain is often alight with fall colors, so a hike on any of the trails in the area will offer great opportunities for viewing and photographing the changing leaves. You’ll also have far-ranging views to include the San Francisco Peaks, Sitgreaves Mountain and Bill Williams Mountain to add to the fall color experience!

  • Estimated peak viewing period: October 17 - 31. 

The Science Behind the Color of the Leaf

Want more colors?

Kaibab NF Photos      Southwestern Region

U.S. Forest Service