How to Make it Feel Like it’s Fall in Arizona!
5. Take the scenic chairlift ride at Snowbowl
Up until about mid-October, the ski resort in Flagstaff offers scenic chairlift rides. Although you will not see as much foliage as you would on the trails, you will still get a glimpse of the beautiful aspens surrounding the peaks. And the scenic views of the mountain and pines is spectacular enough to warrant a visit even if your visit falls outside of fall color season. The ride is relaxing, beautiful, and offers you the opportunity to enjoy “the coolest place in Arizona.” Temps here are pretty chilly in October, so bring a sweater and jacket! And, don’t forget the camera!
6. Hike the West Fork Trail in Oak Creek Canyon
Surprisingly, Sedona’s West Fork Trail is one of the fall color hotspots in Arizona. In fact, it’s so popular that a line often forms well before 10am on October weekends. While the Sedona area is known for its’ outstanding red rock formations, the leafy Oak Creek Canyon located in between Flagstaff and Sedona, features one of the most diverse ecosystems in the state, and thus is home to a wide variety of animals and plants. The West Fork Trail, located on scenic Oak Creek Canyon drive, is the most popular trail in the area due to the wide variety of deciduous trees including maples and oaks.
Come fall, the trail is alive with a variety of hues and has a very New Englandish feeling when compared to the yellow aspen loaded trails populating the area. It’s one of the only trails in the area that features brilliant red and orange foliage. It’s a must for anyone craving that traditional fall feeling.
7. Enjoy towering aspens on the Inner Basin Trail
The Inner Basin is the hike to do this fall in Arizona. Although it gets quite crowded (especially on weekends), walking amongst the towering golden aspens truly is an awe inspiring experience. This trail is so colorful that it rivals many of the best in New England. Every direction in which you look along the 1.7 mile journey is just overloaded with the colors of the season. Be aware – this trail is no easy feat. A hilly trek combined with high altitude (8000-10000 feet) means you really must be in decent shape to enjoy this one. However, you do not need to hike the whole trail to see the beauty. Simply go out to your comfort level as the colorful views begin as soon as you start your journey. Alternatively, if you do not feel like waiting in line, consider hiking the Bear Jaw trail which is much less crowded and just as beautiful. On the downside, the road to get there is pretty rough and 4WD is recommended.
8. Hike the Snowbowl Trails
Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff is home to 3 beautiful hiking trails, which can be used year round for all types of activities including hiking, leaf peeping, and snowshoeing after a big storm. 2 of these are nice short leisure trails which are lined with many golden aspens in the fall. The Aspen Nature Loop is appropriately named as so for the abundance of aspens which populate the trail. In the fall, it is just spectacular. Great mountain scenery as well! The Kachina Trail is also loaded with aspens, especially for the first mile or so, making it a must in the fall. Also on Snowbowl Road is the gorgeous Veit Springs trail, which features a diverse mix of ponderosa pine and aspens. This heavily treed trail is very peaceful, making it the ideal option for those seeking to avoid the hefty tourist crowds found on more popular hikes like Inner Basin & West Fork.
9. Sign up for a haunted ghost tour
Most cities in Arizona offer some type of ghost tour around Halloween. Flagstaff and Jerome are particularly good options as they have a long haunted history. The Flagstaff Visitor’s Center offers tours for just 10 bucks about a week or so before Halloween. The Monte Vista is known to be one of the most haunted hotels on Route 66. Even Phoenix offers ghost tours in the downtown area. Check around and see if anywhere near you is offering this fun seasonal activity, and consider driving up north to get the full experience including brisk weather and old architecture which makes the tour feel all the more creepier.
10. Explore a ghost town
Arizona is known for its many abandoned mining towns which are now ghost towns. If you are a fan of history, you may enjoy exploring these abandoned towns and getting a glimpse into how people lived long ago. Some of these ghost towns are hard to get to, while others are easily accessible from the highway. Some have been restored and are now home to numerous attractions and museums. Jerome is America’s largest ghost town and a popular tourist attraction. Dinner at the totally decked out Asylum Restaurant is a must around Halloween! Or dare to spend the night in one of the hotel’s haunted rooms!