Weekend Guide to Fall in Arizona
Ah, fall. No longer the season of pumpkin spice (thanks, maple), autumn remains all about raking leaves before jumping in them, cozying up with a warm cup of tea in the early morning, shedding that fuzzy sweater when midday warms the chilly temps, and frolicking through pumpkin patches on the outskirts of Phoenix, or Flagstaff. If you live in Arizona, you’ll be wanting to get into the spirit just like the rest of the country. The high season for tourists has ended, but fall is a magnificent time for locals to go exploring around the state. If you’re in Phoenix, you won’t see the stunning explosions of color while changing leaves show off as their chlorophyll disappears for the winter, but all you need to get a stunning view of the changing leaves (leaf peeping, as it’s called) is a full tank of gas and an adventurous spirit. Even if you don’t have the time to leave the city to see the explosive fall leaves to the north or south, here are some festivals and fall happenings to attend with friends and family to get into the spirit of fall.
Fall Things to Do near Phoenix and Scottsdale
Have you ever seen ducks race? This may be your only chance, and to sweeten the admission deal, the folks at Vertuccio Farms include access to a giant 7-acre corn maze, giant jump pad, pumpkin bowling, and a gigantic tube slide and a lot more activities as part of the ticket price.
We’re talking about the Fall Festival, which runs from October 2nd-November 5th only 40 minutes from Phoenix in Mesa, Arizona.
To the northwest of the city center in Glendale, Tolmachoff Farms is throwing their own fall shindig for the whole family to enjoy. Corn Maze & Pumpkin Days runs from September 30th-November 5th and might even entertain a sulky teen if you point them towards the spine chilling haunted corn maze.
If corn mazes and pumpkin patches aren’t your thing and you’re looking for something spookier, PoeFest runs from October 6th until Halloween and offers vivid performances from beyond the grave in what is widely known one of the most haunted hotels in America, the wicked Hotel San Carlos. This annual celebration of the writings of Edgar Allen Poe is more than just a reading, it’s a vivid performance from the grave by real actors taking on the role of inmates in Poe’s fictional Maison de Santé Asylum for the criminally insane.
For those looking to speckle in some more non-traditionally fall festivals with their fall gatherings, the Arizona Taco Festival is your spot. More than 50 teams take up the taco-making challenge as fans sample and savor their winning (or losing) creations. The event isn’t all about food. Immerse yourself in some Lucha Libre Wrestling, Hot Chili Pepper Eating Contests, Chihuahua Beauty Pageant, live music and more.
Leaf Peeping Near Flagstaff
Flagstaff is where to go if you want to see explosive fall colors in an up close and personal way, by hiking one of the many trails nearby. While most of the year these trails are fantastic, the color changing aspens and ponderosas really liven up the landscape during the fall season. Be prepared for substantial weekend crowds, especially on the very popular Inner Basin. If you’re wondering what color the leaves will be when you arrive, Flagstaff’s official website has a handy Leaf-O meter page that tells visitors whether leaves on each trail will be a bright shade of yellow or a deep red. Here are some of the must-experience fall trails near Flagstaff, Arizona (all of which offer more ample leaf peeping opportunities):
Lovingly referred to as Arizona’s little alps, the inner basin trail begins in a campground and climbs through a thick wood of ponderosa pines and aspen. The trees are covered in carvings, which adds a sense of community and collective experience to this moderate 4-mile hike.
From the trail head, the loop begins as a wide path through a grassy meadow surrounded by aspens, ponderosas, black bears (which you probably won’t see) and elk (which you might). It winds upward from 8,536 to 10,284 feet in a moderately difficult 6.8 mile-loop that crescendos into a stunning view of the San Francisco peaks to the south, and even the gap of the Grand Canyon 90 miles to the north can be seen as a broad plateau that stretches from the foot of the mountain to the horizon.
Along this 10-mile loop, trees drive their way through huge andesite boulders, and a dramatic, cave-like recess in the lava marks where a bed of looser volcanic debris eroded away from the denser layers of earth above. You’ll wind along lava walls, side canyons, and gigantic ancient forests of Douglas Fir bursting with fall color.
Check out our featured properties and take a tour around your new city this weekend!
By Jeremy Alderman, Phoenix, AZ