Fall Colors in National Forests - Southwestern Region

Stunning is Coming! 

Visit national forests in the Southwestern Region for magnificent views as the leaves change color this fall. Experience changing fall foliage from different elevations and get a new perspective on the splendor of the season. If you can't visit in person, visit the forests' social media for fall color images and descriptions.

Visitors hike the Inner Basin Trail on the Coconino National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo by Brienne Pettit.

When do leaves start to change color in national forests? Fall colors begin mid to late September in the higher elevations of Arizona and New Mexico. When do fall colors peak in national forests? In the Southwestern Region, fall colors will sweep down, reaching peak viewing time in mid October. As the fall color tour continues, leaves will change in the lower elevations, peaking mid to late October, with fall colors continuing into early November. Each forest has something unique to offer! Start your fall color adventure by selecting a forest from the list.

Peak Mid to Late September

Where to find peak fall colors in national forests from m to late

  • Apache-Sitgreaves NFs

    patchwork of changing fall colors coming down a slope into a valley

    There are many opportunities for leaf peepers to witness the colorful fall transition on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. Follow us on social media or visit our Flickr album for fall color updates.

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

  • Carson National Forest

    trees with bright yellow trees frame a lake in the background

    For spectacular fall colors in the high country, find the golden hues of cottonwoods along rivers in the lowlands and go up in elevation to enjoy the shimmering display in aspen groves. Peak is the end of September through mid October.  

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

  • Coconino National Forest

    vibrant red fall colors on tall tree

    Many higher elevations near Flagstaff reach their fall color peak in early October, but the views are  beautiful throughout the autumn. Some of the best places to view fall colors are the maples on the Mogollon Rim District and the deciduous trees in Oak Creek Canyon and the Sedona area.

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

  • Kaibab National Forest

    looking up white aspen tree trunks to yellow leaves and the sky

    The Kaibab National Forest is an outstanding place to bring your family and friends to view the changing fall colors! 

    October is prime fall color viewing, but the season generally runs from late September through late October. 

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

  • Santa Fe National Forest

    a boulder in the foreground and orange leaves all around

    There are many opportunities on the Santa Fe National Forest to experience the glorious colors of fall, whether hiking, horseback riding, or taking a scenic byway drive.

    Visit us on social media for the latest updates on fall colors.

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

Peak Late October to early November

Where to find peak fall colors in national forests from to early .

  • Cibola National Forest

    a mass of bright yellow leaves down a mountainside

    The Cibola is spread far and wide across the width of New Mexico and into the grasslands of Texas and Oklahoma - the season varies so check your local ranger district to see what's up in your area.

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

  • Coronado National Forest

    muted orange, red and yellow changing leaves on tall trees

    With sixteen mountain ranges and hugging the southern border, fall colors are a bit later and more varied than our northern neighbors.  You'll see splotches in our sky islands by early October, with the showy patches appearing late in the season. 

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

  • Gila National Forest

    close up of three changing aspen leaves with the shining sun in the background

    The mix of mountain ranges, rangeland, and the famous Gila Wilderness create unique and stunning fall colors in New Mexico.  

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

  • Lincoln National Forest

    vibrant fall colors on tall trees

    The Lincoln National Forest has not one, but three major mountain ranges: Sacramento, Guadalupe and Capitan that cover 1.1 million acres in southeastern New Mexico. 

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr 

  • Prescott National Forest

    beautiful orange changing leaves on branches

    Leaves at the highest elevations start changing from mid- to late September with leaves falling around mid- to late October. Trees at lower elevations begin changing a couple weeks to a month later, and you can still find signs of autumn into mid-December in the Verde Valley and other low elevation parts.

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

  • Tonto National Forest

    vibrant yellow fall colors on tall trees

    Leaves change color earlier in the higher elevations of the Payson and Pleasant Valley Ranger Districts (RDs). Peak is Mid-October to mid-November along riparian areas (Tonto Creek and East Verde River). Colors change late October to mid-November in the Globe and Cave Creek RDs. Pinal Peak on the Globe RD and Seven Springs on Cave Creek RD are greats areas to view fall colors.

    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

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