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Tue, Oct. 27

On the trail of color: Fall eases into Williams

Despite an unprecedented year without much precipitation, the city of Williams and the nearby Kaibab and Coconino National Forests have begun to explode with fall colors.(Wendy Howell/WGCN)

Despite an unprecedented year without much precipitation, the city of Williams and the nearby Kaibab and Coconino National Forests have begun to explode with fall colors.(Wendy Howell/WGCN)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Although its been a dry monsoon season, trees in and around Williams and Kaibab National Forest are beginning to show their fall colors.

Curious where to see some colors in the forest?

Kaibab National Forest has some recommendations:

North Kaibab District

Current highlights: Good spots to view fall colors right now include areas in or around East Rim, DeMotte, Tater Canyon, Dry Park Meadow, Oquer Country, Bear Dip, Snow Play, Three Lakes, Mile-and-a-Half and Lookout Canyon.

Viewing routes for driving: Popular routes for viewing fall colors include Forest Roads 22, 206, 212, 214, 264, 270, 294, 461, 462, 610, 611, 612, 641, 758, 759, 760 and AZ Highway 67.

Status: The colors are now popping out with a mix along Highway 67.

Location: The North Kaibab District borders the north rim of the Grand Canyon. See North Kaibab Ranger Station location map.

Recommended hiking routes: The Arizona Trail #101, on the north rim, specifically on the East Rim trail will offer beautiful fall colors.

Estimated peak viewing period: October 5 - 17.

Tusayan District

Viewing routes for driving: Popular routes for viewing fall colors include Forest Roads 302, 310, 307, 328, 328A and 688. While the Tusayan District doesn't have many aspen trees, there are lots of oak trees that change color. Currently, the best views are travelling on the Forest Road 302 to the 310 up to the Grandview Lookout tower and back out of the forest from Forest Road 310.

Status: No colors yet, but please stay tuned!

Location: The Tusayan District surrounds the town of Tusayan and borders the south rim of the Grand Canyon. See Tusayan Ranger Station location map.

Recommended hiking routes: The portion of the Arizona Trail #101, on the south rim, that begins at the Grandview Lookout Tower then heading south typically offers the best views of fall colors. The Tusayan Bike Trail #4 has oak trees that change color.

Estimated peak viewing period: October 17 - 31.

Williams District

Viewing routes for driving: Popular routes for viewing fall colors include Forest Road 111 to the top of Bill Williams Mountain, County Road 73 and Forest Roads 105, 110, 140 and 354. In the Parks area, a beautiful drive to see outstanding fall colors is to take Forest Road 141 north through Spring Valley to Forest Road 144 and then turn right onto Forest Road 90 north of Kendrick Mountain Wilderness for stunning views of the San Francisco Peaks and Kendrick Mountain.

Status: No colors yet, but please stay tuned!

Location: The Williams District surrounds the city of Williams and stretches both north and south of I-40. See Williams Ranger Station location map.

Recommended hiking routes: The Bill Williams Mountain Trail and the Sycamore Rim Trail often offer great views of changing fall colors. During peak periods each year, Kendrick Mountain is often alight with fall colors, so a hike on any of the trails in the area will offer great opportunities for viewing and photographing the changing leaves. You’ll also have far-ranging views to include the San Francisco Peaks, Sitgreaves Mountain and Bill Williams Mountain to add to the fall color experience!

Estimated peak viewing period: October 17 - 31.

Coconino National Forest

As fall colors start to peak in the Coconino National Forest, Forest Service personnel will begin managing vehicle access to Lockett Meadow over the next few weekends to ensure visitors can safely travel the forest road leading to this popular destination.

A weekend vehicle limit will be enforced beginning tomorrow (Oct. 3) for the next few weekends in order to lessen the crowding on the trails and to promote safety on Forest Road (FR) 552—the only forest road leading to Lockett Meadow. FR 552 is a narrow, rocky and rough forest road alongside a steep cliff that can be unsafe and difficult for opposing traffic to pass one another.

Since the meadow is typically full of vehicles by 8 a.m. on weekends, personnel will only allow vehicles to drive up FR 552 after enough vehicles have exited the area in the mornings. Vehicles will not be allowed uphill once the maximum capacity of 100 vehicles has been reached, and visitors should be aware that the wait may be very long.

Motorists using FR 552 at any time should pay attention to oncoming traffic and blind corners, and vehicles with trailers are strongly discouraged. Lockett Meadow Campground has 17 campsites ($18/night until Oct. 12) that are on a first-come, first-served basis. The 100-vehicle restriction will not apply to those camping at Lockett Meadow Campground.

Other locations available for viewing fall colors

There are many other locations throughout the Coconino National Forest where visitors can view stunning fall colors. The following is a list of locations that forest visitors might consider as an alternative to Lockett Meadow, which are also listed on our Fall Colors web page:

Hart Prairie Road (FR 151) – Accessed via U.S. Highway 180, this forest road goes through aspen groves and has superb views of the San Francisco Peaks.

Around the Peaks Loop (FR 418) – Can be accessed on the west side of the San Francisco Peaks by U.S. Highway 180 and Forest Road 151, or on the east side of the Peaks by U.S. Highway 89 near the Sunset Crater turnoff. This road travels along the north side of the Peaks, with views of aspen on the Peaks and along the road. It can be a little rough for passenger cars in some areas but is still passable. Drive with care.

Snowbowl Road (FR 516) – Accessed by U.S. Highway 180, this paved road up to Arizona Snowbowl offers great colors and views. At the top, visitors can park at the Humphrey’s Trailhead and take a walk across Hart Prairie, as well as the Kachina Trail which leads to a thick stand of aspen.

Freidlein Prairie (FR 522) – Accessed via U.S. Highway 180 and up Snowbowl Road approximately two miles, this road is very rough, but offers beautiful views throughout. High-clearance vehicles are strongly recommended.

Schultz Pass (FR 420) – Accessed via U.S. Highway 180 and Schultz Pass Road, FR 420 takes you through Schultz Pass between the San Francisco Peaks and Mt. Elden. Fall colors can be viewed from the road, but some areas of this road may require high-clearance vehicles.

Oak Creek Canyon – Accessed via state Route 89A that runs from Sedona to Flagstaff. Popular destinations include West Fork, which offers a multitude of fall colors along the hiking trail. The road through Oak Creek Canyon is paved and has heavy visitation, so motorists should be aware that heavy and slow traffic is the norm.

Mogollon Rim (FR 300) – Forest Road 300 is located in the southern portion of Coconino National Forest and is accessed via state Route 87 and several other forest roads. Incredible fall colors aren’t the only spectacular sight in this area, as FR 300 runs along and atop the Mogollon Rim, boasting spectacular views of the Rim, with even more fall colors on side forest roads FR 308 (Kehl Ridge), FR 95 (Fred Haught Ridge) and FR 139 (Dick Hart Ridge).

Information provided by Kaibab and Coconino National Forests

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