Northern Arizona State Park Weekend Scenic Drive
October 1, 2015
From Phoenix go north on I-17 100 miles to Cottonwood (Exit on 260), Dead Horse Ranch State Park is right in town, then north on 89A for 16 miles to Red Rock State Park.
Staying on 89A, go through Sedona for 6 miles to Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon and only 24 miles north to Flagstaff to visit Riordan Mansion State Historic Park.
From Flagstaff, take the Lake Mary Road south 100 miles to Highway 87 (to Pine and Strawberry) and stop at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. Follow 87 to Payson, and it is only 88 miles back to Phoenix.
Note: The red leaves are produced when days are warm and sunny and nights are cool (no frost). The cool nights prevent the sugar from flowing into the leaf veins and then the anthorcyanins (the reds and purples) are produced.
Yellow and orange are the most prevalent as those colors are already in the leaf and do not require specific weather situations. You will notice that the sunnier spots of the mountains will become reddish/purple as Mother Nature ushers in cooler temperatures.