The Beauty of Fall in the Arizona Desert

Do you know where to find the beauty of fall in Arizona? If you hop in the car and drive a few hours in just about any direction you’re going to find more beauty than you ever imagined. The best time to view fall foliage in Arizona, and to experience desert life in fall, is mid-September through October. The Arizona desert begins cooling down, making day and evening adventures enjoyable. Whether you have a few hours or a few days, there’s no shortage of things to do in Arizona, and a uniquely Arizona adventure is just around the bend.

Prescott National Forest

To the north of Phoenix, the Prescott National Forest provides gorgeous scenery and a precious resource – the Verde River. The beautiful fragrant pine trees, lakes and rivers, and archaeological sites make this a must-see for fall sightseers. The elevation is about as high as Denver so be prepared for cooler weather. As far as national park passes are concerned, it’s best to decide whether you will be visiting more than one park and how often. There are annual pass or day pass options for most parks.

Sedona and The Red Rocks

Then comes the famed Sedona Region and its West Fork Oak Creek Trail. At 10 miles north of Sedona proper, it’s a 3 hour hike so make plans to stop off at a local winery afterward. When you have finished enjoying the art, hop on up a half hour to Flagstaff and enjoy the view for the weekend.


In the northern section of the Coconino National Forest is where you’ll find Flagstaff. The best fall hike is arguably the Aspen Nature Loop. It’s a short 2.5 miles and relatively easy, but its view of Kendrick Mountain and San Francisco Peaks is worth the trip. Flagstaff is at 7,000 feet so be prepared for significant temperature change from the Valley. Expect a 20 degree drop for the day, and even more during the evening. The Wine in the Woods Festival in early September at the Arboretum or the Cornucopia Fall Festival, both in town, are good places to stop after your hikes.

Grand Canyon

Since you’re in Flagstaff and enjoying the colors and the cool breeze, why not scoot another hour up U.S. 180 to the Kaibab National Forest and the beginning of a rather large famous hole in the ground called the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River took its time to paint a very nice landscape there. Truly one of the world’s wonders, there’s no better time to visit this amazing site.

Tonto National Forest

Heading east from Phoenix, and just outside the eastern border of the Phoenix-Scottsdale metro area, is the Tonto National Forest. In the town of Payson, you will find colors galore. Travel a little north on highway 87, and you will find the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. Filled with aspen, cottonwood, and alder trees, the colors will be glorious. Enjoy local beers and wine from THAT brewery at the Taste at the Bridge event on September 23. 


You can also head due south via I-10 through the desert to the Sonoran National Monument where the giant Saguaro cacti are known to bloom year-round. They are a sight you can walk right up to and enjoy, just watch the spines.

Finding fun things to do in Arizona is as easy as a hopping in the car. It does not take much effort to find the beauty of fall in the Arizona desert. For other fun things to do, check out this list of Arizona fall festivals.

We also have many great fun things to do here in Terravita. If you’re looking for a private golf and country club community, living alongside your peers in a private community includes a multitude of fun events and activities. Please contact us to find out more about the perfect place part-time or full-time place to enjoy your active lifestyle.