Flagstaff Fall Colors are magical, and autumn in the city transforms the place into a colorful paradise.
I love fall colors in Flagstaff more as I am slightly more partial to Aspens.
Plus, the higher elevation also means the weather is excellent for outdoor activities, including driving and hiking to take in blissful views.
If you are ready to experience the stunning Flagstaff fall colors this autumn for seeing all shades of gold, yellow, red, and bronze surrounded by the dark green of the surrounding Ponderosa pines, read this guide!
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO SEE FLAGSTAFF FALL COLORS
Generally, in Arizona, fall foliage season is from late September through November and even into December.
Flagstaff fall foliage season usually starts in late September and lasts throughout October.
The peak fall foliage in Fall occurs in October each year in Flagstaff, as all the colours are in full splendour in the upper elevations of the Coconino National Forest.
The aspen colors in Flagstaff usually peak within the first two weeks of October.
To see the latest about Flagstaff Fall colors, you can check online.
BEST PLACES TO WATCH STUNNING FLAGSTAFF COLORS
If you are not into hikes, or looking for a quick trip to witness fall colors in Arizona, downtown Flagstaff is the place!
Thanks to its elevated location, many neighbourhoods in Flagstaff, including its parks, bask with the brilliant shades of fall foliage, painting the city vividly.
Head to Wheeler Park and other community areas besides downtown between late September to November to see brilliant Flagstaff fall colors.
Stroll downtown where maples and oaks line the historic streets with 19th-century buildings.
DRIVE TO ARIZONA SNOWBOWL
One of the stunning road trip routes in Northern Arizona you can plan with your family is to Snowbowl.
On this 7-mile-long drive up Snowbowl Road, you will come across some stunning Flagstaff fall colors.
It is one of the easiest ways to soak in foliage colors in the comfort of your car.
Watch the colorful ponderosa trees making way for brilliant aspens, leading you to fantastic views of the surrounding mountains.
Not to be confused with Aspen Nature Loop, Aspen Corner, is one of the best photo spots to capture the brilliant Flagstaff fall colors.
Aspen Corner is about 5/6 miles up Snowbowl Road and only 10 minutes from Aspen Nature Loop.
I highly recommend combining them on your Arizona fall trip for magnificent mountains glowing in red, orange and brown and the Aspen trees basking in yellow in the foreground.
Head there between late September to mid-October to experience the glorious foliage in its prime.
SAN FRANCISCO PEAKS
San Francisco Peaks is one of the most beautiful mountain paths across Arizona from Mexico to Utah forming a series of beautiful landscapes and terrains.
The Arizona Trail on the majestic San Francisco Peaks is among the best hikes to admire Flagstaff fall colors.
You will witness the brilliant shades of orange, red, yellow, and golden carpet the largest contiguous Ponderosa pine forest in the world across this large stretch.
Hiking along this non-motorized path is not only a treat to your eyes but also an adventure for families.
THE ASPEN NATURE LOOP
If you visit Flagstaff in the fall, you must add this short but stunning hike to witness gorgeous Flagstaff fall colors.
As the name indicates, this 1.5-mile hike takes you through stunning ponderosa and aspen groves.
It is a treat to the senses to stroll amidst golden foliage.
September, October and early November are the best months to watch the colorful panoramas.
If you are lucky, you can even spot many migrating birds.
Since it is an easy trail, it is one of the best hikes to see Az fall colors with your kids.
You can even hike the Aspen Nature Loop in winter to enjoy a gorgeous white wonderland.
THE INNER BASIN(LOCKETT MEADOW)
One of the most popular places to see fall colors in Arizona, loved by campers, hikers, and people looking for a romantic fall getaway in AZ is the Inner Basin.
Lockett Meadow may be the busiest and most popular place to experience Flagstaff fall colors.
Lockett Meadow is a beautiful aspen grove located in the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks.
Inner Basin is one of the most heavily trafficked trails from mid-October through the month of November.
Since you can camp on the premises, you can spend an entire weekend taking in all the wondrous fall colors in Arizona in the Inner Basin.
Head over to Lockett Meadow Campground, the starting point for the fantastic Inner Basin trail.
The 3.5-miles long trail is known for the magnificent yellow and sometimes light orange Aspen carpeting the floor and coloring the sky.
This hike is considered moderate due to varying elevations ranging from 8000-10000+ feet and a steep incline, so it may not be ideal for beginners.
It is best to be here early in the morning if you are here on the weekends. Weekdays are less crowded relatively.
Make sure to dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes.
From Phoenix, it is about a three-hour drive to the Inner Basin Trail.
Since it is at a higher elevation, the Inner Basin trail and the campground is the perfect spot to escape the heat for extra cool temperatures and stunning foliage.
THE WEST FORK TRAIL
Located in Oak Creek Canyon between Sedona and Flagstaff, the West Fork Trail is among the best hikes to see Flagstaff fall colors.
This seven-mile trail, which involves many creek crossings is a favourite among people traveling with kids.
It is one of the popular hikes famous for its bright yellow, orange, and golden red leaves of Aspen.
With pleasant temperatures and brilliant colors throughout your hike, late September and mid-October is the best time to see the radiant colors of the deciduous trees, similar to the ones in New England.
Note that parking is limited, and traffic congestion is frequent.
It is best to be here early in the morning, especially if you are planning on the weekends.
VEIT SPRINGS TRAIL
One of the easy hikes ideal, if you are with kids to see stunning Flagstaff fall colors is Veit Springs Trail, located near Snowbowl near Flagstaff.
Although close to the popular Snowbowl, this trail is surprisingly crowd-free thanks to its secluded location.
On this woody trail, you will hike amidst the densely populated forest comprising ponderosa pines with aspen trees glowing in various hues of yellow, orange, and red.
MORE PLACES TO ENJOY BEAUTIFUL FLAGSTAFF FALL COLORS
McMILLAN MESA TRAIL
The 300-acre McMillan Mesa Natural Area is one of the last intact native grasslands within the City and is one of the best places to admire gorgeous Flagstaff fall colors.
Home to elk, deer, and other mammals, McMillan Mesa, provides beautiful views of the San Francisco Peaks and Mt. Elden, glowing in vibrant shades of golden, yellow, and red.
McMillan Mesa Natural Area is a 300-acre protected area located in the heart of Flagstaff with intact native grasslands providing habitat for elk, deer, and other mammals.
You can access McMillan Mesa by crossing the footbridge from Buffalo Park.
HIKE IN HART’S PRAIRIE PRESERVE
Hart’s Prairie Preserve, located at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, is another beautiful place to soak in stunning Flagstaff fall colors.
You can reach Hart’s Prairie via the dirt road FR 151 Hart Prairie Road which loops around the north end of the San Francisco Peaks.
The drive itself is spectacular as you will see beautiful groves and all shades of fall colors near Flagstaff.
ARIZONA NORDIC VILLAGE
Arizona Nordic Village becomes one of the best Arizona skiing resorts in the winter.
It attracts thousands of snow lovers, winter sports and adventure seekers including cross-country skiing and mountain biking trails.
But it is also one of the best places to enjoy stunning Flagstaff fall colors.
Walk or bike on miles of well-maintained trails that will take you through shades of yellow, oranges, and reds of pines, firs, aspen and other high-country flora.
BEAR JAW(ABINEAU LOOP TRAIL)
If you are an expert hiker, one of the challenging trails worth trying is Bear Jaw, which offers fantastic views of Flagstaff fall colors.
The entire loop is about 7 miles and is marked as strenuous due to its sudden rise in elevation, from 8500 to ending at over 10,000 feet.
Enjoy the views through the moss-draped, spruce-fir woodlands of Abineau Canyon packed with different shades of Aspen.
If you are not game for the entire Abineau Loop, the 2 miles out and back Bear Jaw trail offers beautiful views of Aspens through a ponderosa forest.
For peak foliage, head there in October.
Flagstaff Arboretum, a beautiful botanical garden located at an elevation of 7,150 feet is home to over 2,500 species of mountainous flora, and among the top attractions in the city.
The Arboretum is one of the best places to enjoy Flagstaff fall colors.
The trees transform the arboretum into beautiful foliage perfect for enjoying a picnic, taking a stroll, and even a pumpkin trail and many activities for kids.
WALNUT CANYON NATIONAL MONUMENT
Walnut Canyon National Monument, one of the top national monuments in Arizona, is one of the offbeat places to soak in blissful Flagstaff fall colors.
Located at a higher elevation, hiking on the trails here is a pleasant experience in the cool temperatures on the Rim trail.
You will come across stunning views of canyon walls, geological formations and ancient cliff dwellings surrounded by vivid fall colors near Flagstaff, in red, yellow, orange and gold.
If you are a seasoned hiker, I highly recommend going all the way as you can see the dramatic shifts in the landscapes from the alpine tundra of pinyons and pines to aspens, walnut and cottonwoods in various bright colors.