Flagstaff is a paradise for any hiker or outdoor enthusiast. With gorgeous San Francisco Peaks towering over the city, Flagstaff is just minutes away from Humphreys, Arizona’s tallest mountain, and the famous Arizona Snowbowl ski resort. The mountains, covered by picturesque forests and aspen groves, look the best in the fall months, colored with different shades of yellow, red, and bronze. A great variety of trees can be seen in the city too, especially in the downtown area where maples and oaks line the historic streets with some buildings dating back to the 1890s.
When is the best time to see fall colors in Flagstaff
Flagstaff fall foliage season usually starts in late September and lasts throughout October. In some years, you can still catch a glimpse of spectacular foliage in the first half of November, especially, south of the city, closer to Sedona. However, October will be your best bet to see the peak color-change in the area. Generally, in Arizona, fall foliage season can stretch through November and even into December.
Best places to see fall foliage
Because of the stunning views of the San Francisco Peaks, covered with yellow aspens, Arizona Snowbowl is the top leaf-peeping destination in Flagstaff. Take the scenic Aspen Nature Loop near the base of Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, an easy 1.8 mi (2.8 km) hike. Bikers could enjoy a leisurely 7 mi (11 km) ride up Snowbowl Road, where yellow and green landscapes are created by aspens mixed with pines. At the end of Snowbowl Road, you can take the Scenic Chairlift to enjoy panoramic views of the mountains.
Aspen Corner, located about 6.5 mi (10 km) up Snowbowl Road, is one of the most photographed places in Flagstaff. Bright yellow aspens in their full glory are a must-see in October.
San Francisco Peaks
The 3.4 mi (5.5 km) Inner Basin Trail is one of the most popular hikes near Flagstaff. Yellow aspens are very showy with evergreens in the background. The main highlight of the trail is Lockett Meadow. This aspen grove features campsites and picture-perfect picnic spots. However, make sure you arrive at the trailhead early due to heavy traffic during fall foliage season. Hart’s Prairie Preserve, located at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, is another perfect fall biking destination, which can be reached by Hart Prairie Road. On your ride, you will pass beautiful aspens, radiant with fall colors.
Flagstaff Arboretum is a 200 ac (80 ha) botanical garden that is located at an elevation 7,150 feet. This vast park is home to over 2,500 species of mountainous flora. The trees transform the arboretum into a golden foliage oasis, which is perfect for a weekend family outing. The park features a pumpkin trail and many activities for kids.
Oak Creek Canyon
South of Flagstaff, Coconino National Forest is especially scenic in the fall due to lush foliage displays. In particular, Oak Creek Canyon is a perfect destination for a fall hike. Oak Creek Canyon shows off various shades of yellow, orange, and red—a leaf-peeping paradise perfect for fall-time photography. To appreciate the beauty of the area fully, you can take a scenic drive along Hwy 89A, connecting Flagstaff to Sedona.
Surrounded by beautiful nature, the city of Flagstaff is especially attractive throughout October. Vibrant colors transform the downtown Heritage Square, which is a perfect place to sit back and enjoy a warm fall day while getting ready for your next hiking adventure.
What is the best time to visit Flagstaff for fall foliage?
Flagstaff showcases it's fall foliage season in October. That's when you'll find the peak color-change throughout the area, particularly the mountains in the region. Fall foliage season occurs throughout autumn and can last until December in some cases. Show more
What trees can be seen in downtown Flagstaff during the fall months?
Strolling down the history-laden streets of downtown Flagstaff in autumn, visitors can marvel at the diverse and colorful trees. Maple and Oak trees steal the show with their stunning displays of yellows, reds, and bronzes, complementing historic buildings that date back to the 1890s. Show more
Where is the best place to see fall foliage in Flagstaff?
The genuine display of the fall season in Flagstaff is at Arizona Snowbowl, which offers an exceptional vantage point for admiring the beautiful San Francisco Peaks. The Aspen Nature Loop trail, located near the ski resort, offers a leisurely hike that can give visitors a closer look at the radiant yellow aspens. Aspen Corner, located further up Snowbowl Road, boasts one of the most photographed spots in Flagstaff during the fall season. Show more
What biking trails or scenic drives can visitors take to see the fall foliage in Flagstaff and the surrounding areas?
Visitors who enjoy pedaling through mountainous landscapes can take a scenic 7 mi (11 km) bike ride along Snowbowl Road. As part of the journey, they'll encounter breathtaking hues of green and yellow aspens. An option for more experienced bikers is the Hart Prairie Preserve. Hart Prairie Road, which connects to the hiking trailhead, is an excellent place to witness the aspen's full fall glory. Visitors can also enjoy the Coconino National Forest's fall hues with a scenic drive along Highway 89A, famously known for its various shades of yellow, orange, and red. Show more
What activities are available for families at the Flagstaff Arboretum during fall foliage season?
Fall months are a perfect time to explore the Flagstaff Arboretum with family. The arboretum features a gorgeous kaleidoscope of leaf colors from over 2,500 different species of mountain flora. Families can follow the pumpkin trail or participate in the seasonal activities tailored to children. Additionally, posing for pictures amidst the beautiful fall scenery or taking in the serene environment available at the park is a rare opportunity to take home great memories. Show more