Transplanted Easterners may believe they’ve left the spectacle of autumn behind, but there are plenty of places in Arizona to satisfy that yearning for the oranges, pinks, yellows and reds of fall.
"New England has a much larger variety of trees changing all at once in the same place," said Steve Yoder, assistant director at The Arboretum in Flagstaff. "So you’re not going to see a variety of color (in Arizona), but in the right place you’ll see colors that are just as vibrant."
Elevation dictates when and where leaves will change in Arizona. In late September, leaves in the Flagstaff area begin to change, starting a domino effect of color through the lower elevations.
If you don’t have a chance to catch the start of the season, you can still feel the crunch of leaves under your feet in the Pinal Mountains, where maples and aspens will begin dropping their colorful accessories in late October.
Peak time: Late September through early October
Scenic spot: The 50-mile drive along Hart Prairie Road winds through the San Francisco Peaks, where leaves on the aspen trees are ablaze with yellow gold. The Gambel oaks also turn at this time, but the color is an unimpressive, dirty brown.
Getting there: From Flagstaff, take U.S. 180 (Humphreys Street). Head north on U.S. 180 toward the Grand Canyon for 10 miles to Hart Prairie Road (Forest Service Road 151), which loops through the aspen groves back to 180.
Special events: Fall Open House 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at The Arboretum, 4001 S. Woody Mountain Road, Flagstaff. Free. (928) 774-1442 or
Information: Coconino National Forest, (928) 527-3600
Peak time: Late October through early November
Scenic spot: Maple trees and sumacs become a swath of pink and red throughout Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona. Take the drive along state Highway 89A or try the sixmile hike through West Fork Trail, located in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness. You’ll get an up-close look at pinks, reds and oranges.
Getting there: From Sedona, drive about 10 miles north on 89A to the Call of the Canyon parking area on the west side of the highway. $5 parking fee. No mechanized vehicles, including mountain bikes, allowed on the trail.
Information: Red Rock Ranger Station, (928) 282-4119
Peak time: Late October through early December
Scenic spot: The easiest place to see red, orange and golden hues is Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior. Chinese Pistachio trees form a leafy, red canopy over the garden. If you’re up for a hike, try Ice House Canyon and Pioneer Pass in the Pinal Mountains to see maples and aspens.
Getting there: Take U.S. 60 east toward Superior. The arboretum is on the right just before reaching town. For Pinal Mountain hikes, continue to Globe, follow signs to the Tonto National Forest Ranger Station and stop there for maps and updated information.
Special events: Fall Color Festival 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 29 at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. (520) 689-2811
Information: Tonto National Forest Ranger Station, (928) 402-6200, or Globe-Miami Regional Chamber of Commerce, (928) 425-4495
Peak time: Late October
Scenic spot: Using the town of Portal as a base, venture into Cave Creek Canyon to see aspens, bigtooth maple trees and Gambel oaks. Located in the Chiricahua Mountains, the canyon rises from the desert floor to 10,000 feet. Try South Fork Trail for an easy hike. It’s a remote location, so call ahead for overnight accommodations.
Getting there: To get to Portal, east of Tucson on the border of New Mexico, take Interstate 10 east through Tucson to state Route 80. Head south for about 30 miles, then turn right onto New Mexico Route 533. Information: The American Museum of Natural History, Southwest research station, (520) 558-2396