It was late September and the nights were cooling down. I scoured the Internet for information on where the leaves were turning. First, close to home, I checked out Arizona information.
Up in the Flagstaff area are beautiful stands of Aspen that magically turn bright yellow as if the conductor of an orchestra told them it was time… all together now. Since groves of Aspens spread out underground from a shared root system, it does make sense that they will turn yellow together. Here is a great site describing where to find the fall color in Flagstaff.
All over Arizona, especially along rivers, you’ll see the cottonwoods turning. My favorite place for fall foliage is the West Fork Trail in Oak Creek Canyon. Look for fall foliage in Oak Creek Canyon any time between October and December. The Visitor’s Center is a good resource. Plan a “leaf-peeping” trip to Sedona that revolves around a scenic drive though Oak Creek Canyon on Highway 89A. More on driving beautiful Oak Creek Canyon.
Out of State Fall Foliage Drives and Train Trips
Right now a great place to go is northern New Mexico and up into southern Colorado. I recently took a trip from Pagosa Springs, Colorado to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Pagosa Springs, a beautiful mountain town known for natural hot springs, was starting to pop in colors of brown and yellow.
Farther south, in the Chama, New Mexico area, there were many cottonwoods and aspens turning marvelous shades of gold. The Chama based Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railway, is a great ride during leaf peeping season.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a vintage steam locomotive driven excursion train leaving either from Antonito, Colorado or Chama, New Mexico. You will journey back in time through spectacular mountains, canyons and valleys. The railroad is a living history museum which travels a narrow gauge (3 feet wide) railroad line built in the late 1800’s.
You’ll travel through several eco-systems. When I took the trip, we went past prairies, headed up into the mountains, through tunnels, across trestles and viewed the deep Toltec Gorge. This trip took place in late September and we were fortunate to travel during peak Aspen leaf viewing season!
As I continued driving south toward Santa Fe, I noticed an overlook where the riverside cottonwoods were just starting to turn.
Fall foliage viewing in these areas can vary from September through October. It is best to check the local websites and call Visitors Bureaus for up to date information.
Visit Sedona Visitors Bureau
Flagstaff Visitors Bureau
Coconino National Forest Fall Colors
Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
Pagosa Springs Visitors Bureau