Beautiful fall colors are lining the streets, parks, and trails. Delicious Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back at all the coffee shops. And cool, crisp temperatures fill the air. For most areas of the country, this usually signals the arrival of the beautiful, festive fall season. It’s time to put away the flip flops and t-shirts in exchange for cozy sweaters and boots. Anywhere in the country, you can find at least a hint of fall – even in Arizona!
Although many think of Arizona as either a too hot summer destination or a warm winter escape from cold Midwest/Northeast cities, this is not entirely the case. While Phoenix often still sees temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s during the month of October, Flagstaff, one of the highest located cities in the US at an elevation of 7000 feet, sees temps in the 50’s and 60’s and an abundance of fall foliage. In fact, Northern Arizona has a pretty spectacular fall season, making it one of the top fall destinations in the Southwest. Even those from areas with plenty of fall foliage (like New England, the Midwest, and the Southeast) often travel to the area to take in the immense beauty of the golden aspens.
A variety of fall festivals, attractive cooler temperatures than the rest of the state, and bright yellow foliage are just some of the things you can look forward to come fall in Flagstaff. The pleasant combination of cool weather and bright foliage means that it can get pretty crowded, both on the trails and around the downtown area (as everyone heads to a restaurant after their intense high altitude hike). In addition, many Phoenix residents make an escape up north each weekend to experience a bit of the traditional fall season.
Although Halloween in Northern Arizona is nowhere as festive and fun as what I have experienced in the New England and Midwest, you will still find a few events and fall treats this time of year. In terms of traditional fall fun, weather, and activities combined, Flagstaff is about as good as it gets in Arizona.
Below I have listed 12 ways to take advantage of the fall season in Flagstaff. You will find that Flagstaff is very different this time of year from Southern Arizona and most of the Southwest in general, offering a great 4 season climate not traditionally found in this part of the country. Enjoy the list and be sure to add a few suggestions of your own!
12 Fun things to do this Fall/Halloween Season in Flagstaff!
1. Enjoy a fall foliage hike
It would be a mistake to take a trip to Flagstaff and never experience any of the trails, most of which are even more spectacular during the fall season. While most of the year these trails are fantastic, they really shine during the fall season due to the abundance of color changing aspens found intermixed with the ponderosa. A few of the must do fall trails (all of which offer more than enough leaf peeping opportunities) include the Inner Basin trail, Bear Jaw, the Aspen Nature Loop, the Kachina Trail, and the Veit Springs trail. Be prepared for hefty weekend crowds, especially on the very popular Inner Basin (entry is limited the first 2 weekends of October, so get there very early to avoid a long wait!).
For those living in areas with an absence of fall color, I highly recommend a trip to Flagstaff as the colors are as good as it gets in this area of the country. Sedona’s Oak Creek Canyon (just 10 minutes or so away is the start of one of the most scenic drives in the country) is another hot spot for fall color (especially the very popular West Fork trail which is located a few miles into the drive off the side of the road). Sedona’s colors often arrive a bit later than Flagstaff. However, if you can make it out here at the right time, you will get to enjoy a wider variety of colors and more of an East coast fall feeling. Check Flagstaff’s handy Leaf O Meter to plan your visit during peak season. I also recommend a quality camera like the Nikon D5100 to capture amazing pictures of Flagstaff’s majestic fall season.