Color Me Red, Yellow, Brown, And Gold
November 1, 2023
The gorgeous palette of autumn colors paints Arizona's state parks.
It IS possible to experience vibrant fall colors in Arizona - you just need to know where (and when) to look. Several of Arizona's state parks have amazing viewing opportunities and we can't wait for you to experience them all; however, the four parks listed below are known for their above average display of beautiful Arizona fall colors!
Follow this comprehensive guide to the best spots for colorful Arizona fall foliage and you'll be sure to fall in love with this gorgeous state all over again. Any of the parks listed here are great for a day trip. Take a hike or enjoy a picnic under a vibrant canopy of Arizona's best fall color displays. You deserve a front-row seat to experience the awe-inspiring displays of an Arizona fall.
Dead Horse Ranch
A number of deciduous tree species call Dead Horse Ranch home, and they put on a spectacular display for autumn aficionados. In late October, the Cottonwood (Populous fremontii), Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina), Netleaf Hackberry (Celtis reticulate), and Willow (Salix gooddingii) begin to put on their final show of the year. The fall color display at this central Arizona location is fierce and relatively short lived.
Take a stroll around the lagoons and watch in amazement as the sun paints yellow leaves a new shade of gold. The reflection of this colorful show is equally impressive as cast upon the surface of the lagoons. Explore into the riparian zone of the Verde River Valley to see even more colorful transformations.
Red Rock State Park
The riparian zone of Red rock State Park is loaded with deciduous trees that put on quite the spectacle each year. Fremont cottonwood (Populous fremontii), sycamore (Plantanus wrightii), velvet ash (Fraxinus velutina), and Arizona alder (Alnus oblongifolia) show their true colors from late October through the first couple weeks of November. A number of trails rated from easily accessible to moderately difficult will lead visitors into the best fall colors viewing areas of the park. Plus, Eagle's Nest trail will give you a complete overlook of the whole park.
You may have an experience with either mule deer or javelina during your hike. If you do, fall animal photos always turn out amazing with the drab coats against a background of popping fall colors. Be sure to share your adventure on social media or our website.
Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock State Park is home to a variety of trees that show their true colors every fall. Emory oak (Quercus emoryi), Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii), willow (Salix Gooddingii), box elder (Acer negundo), and Arizona sycamore (Plantanus wrightii) trees show off and provide a gorgeous contrast against the red rocks and cool water of Oak Creek Canyon. Both upland and riparian zones should be explored for best exposure to the colorful nature of this quaint park on a creek.
Coues whitetail deer can be seen hanging out in the apple orchards on most days, and the variety of resident and migrating birds really accentuate the autumn color display. Visit Red Rock and Slide Rock in the same day for maximum fall color exposure in a variety of Arizona's zones.
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
The world's largest travertine bridge serves as gateway to Mogollon Rim Country at this gorgeous park just outside Payson, Ariz.! Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is home to a wide variety of flora native to this historic region, and there's no better time than fall to experience the colorful sights of the changing season. The vegetation here is dominated by a variety of oak species including white oak (Quercus arizonica) and Gambel's oak, but alder (Alnus oblongifolia), hackberry (Celtis reticulata), Cottonwood (Populous fremontii), Arizona sycamore (Plantanus wrightii) and sumac (Rhus trilobata and R. ovata) all have their own way of putting on an autumn show!
Visitors with a keen eye might even see varied wildlife like coatimundi, javelina, and Coues whitetail deer amid the golden hues of autumn! The best fall viewing at Tonto is usually from the end of October through the first couple weeks of November.