Day Drive to See Fall Foliage: Oak Creek Canyon

The Arizona landscape is not known for its vast acres of forestry, but it still features some of the most beautiful groves of trees to be found in the United States. Oak Creek Canyon is regarded by some as the best scenic drive in the country. During the fall months from October to late November, you can see a stunning array of colors as the leaves on the trees change for the season.

Where Is the Oak Creek Canyon Drive?

The Oak Creek Canyon can be found along a section of Arizona Route 89A. It is just north of Sedona before you reach Flagstaff. As you drive north from Phoenix, you ascend into the higher elevation plateau. More rainfall supports greater varieties of plant life. Oak Creek Canyon is home to numerous deciduous trees that make it famous.

There is a popular 14-mile stretch of road just west of the main route. Starting at Dry Creek Road, travel until you reach Boyton Canyon Road, then continue along Red Rock Loop. The roads are narrow and there are several switchbacks you will have to navigate. Your driver will have to pay close attention, but there are many places to stop and take in the views.

Things to See on a Hike

One of the more popular activities is hiking through the canyon along Clear Oak Creek. Look for the West Fork Trail hike. This pleasant three-mile trek is on mostly even ground. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the path, but you may bring your dog on a leash. The trail is often crowded with hikers, and you will find many enthusiasts there enjoying the sites.

In good weather, the red, orange, and yellow leaves of the maple, walnut, and oak trees are brilliantly contrasted against a clear blue sky. The rock walls of the canyon are steep, with a deep red hue. If you are visiting after a recent rain storm, small waterfalls pour off the edges of the canyon. The path crosses the clear creek waters several times.

Other Attractions

There are number of scenic views of the canyon. Stop at the top of the Mogollon Rim to take a photo of the Coconino National Forest. Wander through local shops and browse through Native American Art. Wade through clear streams or stop for a dip at the watering hole near Slide Rock.

Take advantage of the pleasant fall weather and go before it snows. Get your vehicle ready for mountain driving by having the brakes, tires, and fluids inspected. With the right preparation, you won't miss this scenic autumnal trip.