Posted by: Sandy Steinman | October 19, 2012

New Mexico and Arizona National Forests Fall Color Update 10/19/12

Arizona and New Mexico National Forests have the following fall color report for 10/19/12:

October 19, 2012



Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

  • Colors are at 75% right now.  Scenic drives would be Hwy 373 to the end of Greer (near Government Springs).  Another scenic drive would be Forest Road (FR) 249 between Alpine and Big Lake (to see William’s Valley) which is a gravel road.


Coconino National Forest

  • There will still be some fall colors on the west end of Forest Road (FR) 418 and on Snowbowl Road below Aspen Corner for this weekend.  The rest of the areas around the San Francisco Peaks are pretty much gone now.  Take Hwy 180 north out of Flagstaff to Snowbowl Road about 9 miles on your right to view some of the colors.
  • Mogollon Rim – The maples have peaked and the aspen and oak are changing now.  Take Forest Road (FR) 95 from just north of the Mogollon Rim District office on Hwy 87 south to FR 96 to FR 321.
  • Oak Creek Canyon – The drive through Oak Creek Canyon is beautiful with lots of green, some yellows, and few reds.  Colors have not reached peak, but the transition from top to bottom is very interesting.  Looking at the canyon from the road headed up, there are some isolated spots of color, should be good for the weekend.  Maples showing red on the east side of Oak Creek Canyon visible from Oak Creek Vista.  Take Hwy 89A from Flagstaff south.  Stop at the Oak Creek Vista, then drive south through the canyon.  Another option would be to take Hwy 89A north from Sedona to the top of the rim.
  • For more information, contact the Coconino National Forest at (928) 527-3600.


Coronado National Forest

  • Colors are at about 60% right now.  Color can be seen at elevations of 3500 feet and above.
  • Douglas Ranger District – Some golden Aspens around the area of Herb Martyr Campground/Cave Creek (5800’, Forest Road 42); many brilliant yellow flowers.  Located in the Chiracahua Mountains near Douglas, AZ.
  • Safford Ranger District – Aspens, Maples, and Sycamores have color above 7000’.  Drive up the Swift Trail aka State Road 266, located in the Pinaleno Mountains near Safford, AZ.
  • Santa Catalina Ranger District – Aspens, Maples, Gamble Oaks, and Alders, all are showing color.  Drive up the General Hitchcock Hwy aka Catalina Hwy aka Mt. Lemmon Hwy; the color appears around 7000’ elevation.  This includes the Marshall Gulch picnic area (7500’) and the Marshall Gulch hiking trail.  This district is located in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, AZ.
  • Estimated peak viewing is now and into the next three weeks.


Kaibab National Forest

  • North Kaibab Ranger District –  Past its peak.
  • Williams Ranger District – Colors were at their peak last week.
  • Tusayan Ranger District –  A lot of Oak has already started to turn brown but the biggest color change is yet to come.  The Arizona Trail along the Coconino Rim (which begins at the Grandview Lookout Tower on Forest Road 310). Or Tusayan Bike Trail #4 (which connects Tusayan to the Grandview Lookout Tower) is the best areas to find color change in the Oaks. Take Forest Road (FR) 302 east from Hwy 64/180, just south of the town of Tusayan.  Follow FR 302 for about 15 miles to its junction with FR 310.  Turn left onto FR 310 and the Grandview Lookout Tower will soon appear on your right.  If you continue following 310 north about 2 miles, it will reconnect with Hwy 64/180 back into GCNP near Grandview Point on Desert View Drive.  Plenty of color can be seen just along the road, but you also park at the Grandview Lookout Tower and follow Arizona Trail south thru the forest, where much color can be seen on the Oak trees, but storms have turned some leaves brown.  Peak was last and this week.
  • Contacts for more information: Williams RD: (928) 635-5600.  Tusayan RD: (928) 638-2443.  North Kaibab RD: (928) 643-7395.


Tonto National Forest

  • The greatest amount of color is in the Seven Springs area.  There is scattered color change in the Needle Rock area.  Trail 4 is the recommended hiking route.
  • Globe Ranger District –  Colors in the Pinal Mountains are at 75% right now.  The best road to see the changes is Forest Road 651.  Recommended hiking routes in this area are Six Shooter Canyon Trail and Ice House Trail.
  • Mesa Ranger District – No color changes to report.
  • Payson Ranger District – Not much color at this time.  The area along Tonto Creek, Forest Road 289, may have some color changes; however, smoke from the fire may impact the view at this time.  Canyon Trailhead area, Forest Road 284 has some colors.  Colder temps will bring on more color changes in the future.
  • Pleasant Valley Ranger District – Fall foliage is at thirty to thirty-five percent in this area.  Aspens are changing on Forest Road 33, top of section Forest Road 512 at about the 6800-700 feet elevation.  Locusts are turning yellow at this same elevation.  Aspens are also changing slowly at the Aztec Peak area.  None of the riparian areas are changing yet.  All trails in this area are good for viewing changes.
  • The estimated peak viewing period is late October and all of November.  Some areas will continue to change into December.


Fall colors are done for the season on the following National Forests:  Prescott



New Mexico  

Cibola National Forest.

  • Sandia Ranger District –  Color is done for the year.
  • Magdalena Ranger District – Colors have about another week or so.   Recommended viewing routes – Go west on Hwy 60 to Forest Road (FR) 549 to FR 138 Grassy Lookout (Trail 43/Apache Kid Trail).
  • Mountainair Ranger District – Forest Road (FR) 55 Loop off of HWY 55 out of the village of Tajique/Torreon is best for viewing.  The road conditions beyond 4th of July Campground is very primitive and high clearance vehicles are recommended.  Peak viewing is happening right now.
  • Mt. Taylor Ranger District –   The Aspens are still looking pretty good.  Some areas are losing leaves and others are still really good.  Just stay on the main roads.  On the Zuni Mountain side, the Oaks are turning brown and the Elms are starting to turn on the tops.
  • Kiowa & Rita Blanca National Grasslands – Color is showing down in the bottom of Mills Canyon.  Go I-25 east to Wagon Mound, then east on State Hwy 120 to Roy, and north on State Hwy 39 to Mills.  The canyon entrance will be on the left.  It is 209.88 miles from Albuquerque.  It is recommended to have a high clearance vehicle if you choose to drive down into the canyon.  If it has rained recently, you will also need a 4-wheel drive.  Be aware that there is only one way in and one way out of the canyon, so please take necessary precautions in regards to weather and time of day.  Roy will be the last place you will be able to get food or gas until you return to Roy upon departure (or for 30 miles if you continue to Clayton or Springer).

Gila National Forest 

  • Black Range Ranger District – Travel along State Hwy 152 from Hillsboro over Emory Pass will show visitors a nice display of fall color.
  • Reserve Ranger District – Reports of a lot of color for hikers at higher elevations.  At lower elevations about 50% of the trees are turning so expect peak color next week of the week after.  Roads throughout the district offer visitors a pleasant drive and a chance to view the colors.
  • Wilderness Ranger District –  State Hwy 15 north of Hwy 35 has patches of color and nice views from several overlooks.  Down along the river near Gila Center, cottonwoods are showing yellow.
  • Silver City Ranger District – Hikers off Hwy 152 toward Hillsboro Peak report Oaks and Aspen above 9000 feet are yellow and starting toward orange.  Along the Gila River, Sycamores, Cottonwoods and Willows are fading to yellow and should peak next week or the week after.  State Hwy 154 between Pinos Altos and Signal Peak is showing red Sumac, Virginia Creeper and the golden yellow of Cottonwood trees on a background of green mixed conifers.
  • Glenwood Ranger District –  The Bursum Road, State Hwy 159, from Alma to just beyond Mogollon, provides an opportunity for visitors to see Aspen and other trees in their foliage.  This area near the Redstone Trailhead (trail currently closed) is especially nice.

Lincoln National Forest

  • Smokey Bear Ranger District –  Colors are at 100%.  Hondo Valley along Hwy 70 east of Ruidoso and Ski Run Road (Hwy 532) off of Hwy 37 north of Ruidoso have the greatest amount of color at this time.  A recommended viewing route is on Ski Run Road (Hwy 532) up to Windy Point (part way to Ski Apache).  Hwy 380 from Carrizozo, east on Hwy 37, south to Nogal, southwest on Forest Road (FR) 400 to FR 108.  Then backtracking to Nogal.  FR 108 is a rough road needing high clearance.  The Cedar Creek area near the Smokey Bear Ranger Station is a great place to hike and view the colors.  Peak is now.  Because of the Little Bear Fire, the area around Bonito Lake and into the White Mountain Wilderness is off limits to everyone.  Please refer to our website for a map showing that area .
  • Sacramento Ranger District –  Colors are at 100% right now.  The whole district, and especially the High Country, has excellent color.  Recommended viewing routes:  From Cloudcroft, south on Hwy 6563 (Sunspot Scenic Byway).  Eight and one-half miles down the Sunspot road turn east on to the Rio Penasco road (C17) to Hwy 130, then west and north back to Cloudcroft.  Another viewing route; from Cloudcroft south to Hwy 6563 (Sunspot Scenic Byway) 20 miles to the Sacramento Peak Observatory (elevation 9200 feet).  Also, from High Rolls south and east on Karr Canyon Road (Forest Road 63) to the Sunspot Road, be sure to cross the road into the Upper Karr Recreation Area, park on the paved circle, get out and walk among all the Aspens.  From Cloudcroft east on Hwy 82 turn left onto Hwy 244 travel north and east to the Lincoln National Forest boundary.  Peak is now.
  • Guadalupe Ranger District – Color is only at about 10% right now.  Temperatures have not been cold enough for significant color change yet.



  Fall colors are done for the season on the following National Forests:   Carson, Santa Fe



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: