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Family Friendly Fall Color Spots in AZ

Throw on your boots, a scarf, grab a PSL, and head out to see some of Arizona’s best Fall color! Our guide has all the best spots to enjoy and explore the gorgeous changing leaves with your family.

Throw on your boots, a scarf, grab a PSL, and head out to see some of Arizona's best Fall color! Our guide has all the best spots to enjoy and explore the gorgeous changing leaves with your family.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons, it finally starts to cool down and the air gets a little crisp, all things pumpkin and apple start to pop up everywhere you turn, not to mention getting to add scarves and boots to our wardrobes. While I love all those other things, my very favorite thing to do in fall is to head up north and catch a peek at the changing leaves. Being in Arizona we have to seek out the fall colors and time it just right, which can sometimes be a challenging task! I’ve put together this list of my favorite places around the state to leaf peep as soon as autumn hits – We like to hike so I’ve included some family friendly trails and also listed some scenic drives in case hiking isn’t your thing and you don’t want to miss out! 

A guide to the best places in Arizona to take in the splendor of fall foliage with your family!

Flagstaff Area:

Flagstaff is my favorite place to catch fall color – the San Francisco Peaks make for a beautiful backdrop, and the large Aspen groves make you feel like you’ve escaped Arizona. Just walking around Downtown Flagstaff you will be able to enjoy the colors –  Lots of the local restaurants have patios with great views or take the kids to one of the parks in town to see color and let them run around. We usually start to see the leaves turning in late September and early October, depending on the weather.

  • Snowbowl Scenic Drive – If you’re not into hiking, cruising up Snowbowl road is a great way to experience Arizona’s gorgeous color. It’s a short 7 mile drive, but the views don’t disappoint.
  • Lockett Meadow/Inner Basin Trail – This is a really beautiful spot to see the Aspens, but is wildly popular during this time of year.  If you are wanting to hit up this trail, I highly recommenced hitting the trail first thing in the morning – the road is steep and narrow and will get congested later in the day.
    • The trail itself if moderately difficult and winds through the aspens as it climbs. It might be hard for little ones to tackle, but can easily be done with littles in a hiking carrier (I’ve done it while pregnant and carrying a baby in a carrier). 

A guide to the best places in Arizona to take in the splendor of fall foliage with your family!

  • Aspen Nature Loop
    • This is a really easy hike and has ample parking at Snowbowl. The views of the peaks at the trailhead are what make it really spectacular. It’s a short trail and can be done by kids of most ages. My toddler has hiked a few portions of the trail.
  • Kachina Trail 
    • Another very popular trail in Flagstaff, but also very beautiful! The full trail is about 5 miles, but the first few miles are less difficult and good for families with little ones. If you’re planning to hike the whole way, many hikers leave 1 vehicle at the end of the trail. 
  • Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail
    • This is a great family friendly place to catch Fall colors. There are two easy trails – one 1/4 mile loop that’s paved and a longer 1.5 mile loop. It’s also a great place to spot wildlife, which can be really fun for the kids. Tip: there are also restrooms in the parking area!
  • Veit Springs Trail (aka Lamar Haines Loop) – This is an easy, short and very kid friendly hike. This trial doesn’t offer a huge concentration of Aspens, but has them mixed in with the pines. 

A guide to the best places in Arizona to take in the splendor of fall foliage with your family!

Sedona Red Rock Area

Oak Creek Canyon is the heart of the fall color in Sedona. The yellows and oranges of the oaks mixed with the red rocks is truly spectacular! The oak trees usually change a bit after the aspens, so October and sometimes early November are the best times to catch the fall leaves in Sedona.

  • 89A Scenic Drive
    • The drive through Oak Creek Canyon is one of my favorites and never disappoints. Highway 89A winds up through Oak Creek towards Flagstaff. There are a few great photo ops to stop at along the way – my favorite is at about the halfway point. Keep in mind this can sometimes be slow this time of year with many other leaf peepers taking the same scenic route.
  • West Fork Oak Creek Trail
    • West Fork was my very first Fall foliage hike many, many years ago so it holds a special place in my heart. The varying colors of the oak tree leaves are like none other. The hike is quite easy and you’ll pass many other families and kids along the way. Depending on how far you hike, you’ll have to cross the stream in a few places. This is another really popular trail and parking is quite limited, so I recommend starting early in the morning to beat the crowds. 
      • Day use $10 or Annual Red Rock Pass accepted
  • Red Rock State Park
    • Red Rock State Park has a network of trails that are easy, well maintained and family friendly. There’s a visitors center and plenty of picnic areas as well.
      • Entrance fee’s: Adult (14+): $7.00  Youth (7–13): $4.00

A guide to the best places in Arizona to take in the splendor of fall foliage with your family!

Tucson Area

Just next to Tucson, the Santa Catalina Mountains offer some beautiful views of maples and aspens – My. Lemmon is a popular spot to see color, which usually peaks at the end of October.

  • Catalina Highway Scenic Drive – A 27 mile stretch up to the highest park of Mt. Lemmon. There are pullouts with scenic lookouts to stop and take photos of the  changing maples and Aspens along the way
  • Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley – The ski lift operates all year and is a good place to park and check out the aspens.
    • Aspen Draw Trail – A short 2 mile hike that’s family friendly and is near the ski slopes
  • Bear Wallow – Turn off near mile marker 22 and head out for a walk along Bear Wallow Road for some beautiful reds and golds. Parking at the Sunset trailhead is another option where you can hike down to Bear Wallow
  • Marshall Gulch Trail  – From the paring lot you can take a short walk into the maples to see all the color

 

A guide to the best places in Arizona to take in the splendor of fall foliage with your family!

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

If you’re looking to stay a little close to the East Valley, or if you missed the peak color up north, checking out the Arboretum is a great option. Color hits here usually a month after the Aspens and Maples change up North – end of November or early December. They usually post updates on their Facebook page so you can decide when it’s best to visit.

  • If you’re up for a walk, the Main Trail is short (1.5 miles) and easy, with many short trails that you can detour to.
  • Thanksgiving weekend they usually host their Fall Foliage Finale Festival (Saturday & Sunday). Which is a great family friendly way to see the color, enjoy some music and sip on some cider.
  • Bonus: there is a huge Botanical garden (the largest in the state!) where you can see thousands of other plants
    • Entrance Fee’s: Adult (13+): $12.50 Child (5-12): $5.00

A guide to the best places in Arizona to take in the splendor of fall foliage with your family!

Throw on your boots, a scarf, grab a PSL, and head out to see some of Arizona's best Fall color! Our guide has all the best spots to enjoy and explore the gorgeous changing leaves with your family.

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