You don’t have to drive to northern Arizona for New England-esque fall color worth photographing. A pocket of it exists just 50 miles away, at Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior.
Nestled into the foothills of Picketpost Mountain, the park’s jujube, honey locust and varnish trees have gone golden, and patches of soft orange are spreading on a few early-to-turn Chinese pistachios.
Ripening red pyracantha berries are attracting Northern Cardinals, Spotted Towhees, Phainopeplas, chipmunks and squirrels.
“The color has started, and it’s really pretty, but it’s going to get even better, because the peak is right on schedule to be beautiful for Thanksgiving weekend,” says spokesman Paul Wolterbeek.
He expects more than a dozen pistachio trees to glow with firey shades from pumpkin to burgundy between Nov. 20 and 30.
“We’ll see some gold leaves again with the pomegranate hedges, even after the pistachios,” he said. “As long as we don’t get high wind and rains, we should be on target for a beautiful color season. This is one of those times when it really behooves people to visit more than once, because it does change.”
The park’s annual Fall Foliage Finale Festival, scheduled for Nov. 24-25, is good for entertaining Thanksgiving weekend guests — or remedying lethargy after too many days of turkey-and-dressing leftovers and naps on the couch.
Make your trip then, and you’ll find live music by the Celestial Misfits, craft vendors and hot, spiced cider to carry on rambles down forested trails. Pro photographers will also host workshops on how to capture fall color with your camera.
The park is open daily, if you prefer to take in the sights with less fanfare. There are plenty of places to picnic or simply sit a spell, taking in the vibrant hues.
Gilbert photographer Michael Madsen will host a “Basics of Fall Foliage Photography” workshop on Nov. 21. Registration ($39) is required in advance to (520) 689-2723.
“It’s a great primer, and you can walk right out of the class and start shooting pictures,” says Wolterbeek.
Some years, the arboretum’s color lasts into the first week of December.
For up-to-date reports before you make the drive, call (520) 689-2723 or check the arboretum’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/boycethompsonarboretum.
If you go
What: Find vivid, photo-worthy color, live music and hot cider at the Fall Foliage Finale Festival.
When: Festival is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 24-25. Arboretum is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas Day.
Where: Boyce Thompson Arboretum, 37615 U.S. Highway 60, Superior
Cost: $9 for adults, $4.50 for kids ages 5 to 12, free for children younger than 5
Information: (520) 689-2811 or Arboretum.ag.arizona.edu
Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or email@example.com