Take a winding journey through red rocks, White Mountains or somewhere in between on one of these scenic fall drives just a short distance from Phoenix.

 

Payson and Mogollon Rim
 

 

Begin this scenic venture by driving northeast from Phoenix to the mountain town of Payson, climbing 4,000 feet into Rim Country. The scenery is dominated by the nearby Mogollon Rim—a dramatic escarpment on the edge of the Colorado Plateau that looms 2,000 feet over the towns below. On top of the precipice is cool high country, swathed in forest foliage. From Payson, take Highway 260 to the beginning of Forest Road 300 and skirt the edge of the Rim heading east. You’ll be treated to sweeping views and a perfect palette of fall color in mid-October.

 

Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon
 

 

Thanks to its stunning red-rock formations, Sedona is a popular day-trip locale year round. But when the leaves begin to turn, it’s almost impossible to stay away. From Phoenix, head north to Sedona, passing through the village of Oak Creek to access Highway 89A. It’s on this gently winding stretch of road between Sedona and Flagstaff that oak trees burst into vibrant hues of red, gold and yellow. Be sure to stop at the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook. And if you want take it all in again, turn around at the end of the road to head south back to Phoenix.

 

Flagstaff

 

 

Want to keep driving after hitting the end of the Oak Creek Canyon scenic drive? Then keep right on going into Flagstaff.

Before the ski slopes turn white with snow, they glow with the colors of fall at Arizona Snowbowl. In autumn, visitors can hike trails in the area or get an aerial view of the foliage on the chairlift. Walk the streets of the historic downtown or stroll through The Arboretum at Flagstaff for more opportunities for leaf viewing. 

Check Visit Flagstaff's LEAFometer for the best time to visit.

 

 

Prescott National Forest
 

 

A slight northwest route from Phoenix will bring you toward the city of Prescott and the wooded mountains of Prescott National Forest. From here, Highway 89A curves toward the historic town of Jerome through a series of scenic switchbacks and a climb up and down the summit of Mingus Mountain. Fall colors are scattered throughout, both in the leaves of ash, poplars and oaks and the underbrush of the foothills. The road conveniently leads to wine country; if you fancy an overnight stop, visit the wineries on the Verde Valley Wine Trail.

 

White Mountains
 

 

Head east into Arizona’s White Mountains, a range near the New Mexico border dotted with quaint communities and ponderosa pines.

The White Mountain Scenic Byway begins south of Pinetop-Lakeside in the Apache Indian Reservation settlement of Hon-Dah—a title that translates to “be my guest.” From here, make yourself at home among views of meadows, peaks and shimmering golden aspens along Arizona Highway 260. The byway ends in the town of Eager.