Autumn Gold

Flanked by evergreen pines, an aspen stand near the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park shines golden beneath a September sky. (Bill Ferris)

Flanked by evergreen pines, an aspen stand near the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park shines golden beneath an autumn sky. (Bill Ferris)

It’s October. Mornings are crisp, shadows grow long by mid-afternoon and evening descends just a little too early for this boy of summer. But such annoyances are minor in comparison to the rewards of autumn’s arrival. In northern Arizona, photographic opportunities abound as the aspens are turning. Northern Arizona doesn’t enjoy the cornucopia of color that makes a northeastern US a mecca for leaf peepers. That said, the area has much to entice the dedicated nature photographer. Aspens abound at elevations of 7,000-feet and higher. Whether you make the North Rim of Grand Canyon or the Ponderosa pine and aspen forests surrounding Flagstaff your destination of choice, autumn gold will be the featured attraction for photographers visiting this region of the Southwest US, this month.

On the North Rim, the curtain is ready to come down on yet another summer season. At mid-month, the North Rim Lodge will close until next May and the first significant snowfall of winter will mark the official closing of Highway 67. But for a brief period from the end of September through mid-October, the forests and meadows are alive with color. Fall color on the North Rim peaks early in Arizona. With an average elevation of about 8,000-feet, the chill of autumn arrives just a bit earlier and yields to winter well before Christmas.

A lone Ponderosa Pine stands amidst a collection of towering aspens along the Inner Basin Trail in the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona. (Bill Ferris)

A lone Ponderosa Pine stands amidst a collection of towering aspens along the Inner Basin Trail in the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona. (Bill Ferris)

Closer to home near Flagstaff, Lockett Meadow and hiking trails along the base of the San Francisco peaks offer access to colorfully garnished aspen stands. Lockett Meadow is my favorite destination of choice for leaf peeping, near home. The Kachina Trail connecting Arizona Snowbowl with the Weatherford Trail near Schultz Pass Road is another favorite. If your personal or business travel brings you to Arizona, this month, add a day or two side trip to Flagstaff or the North Rim of Grand Canyon to your itinerary. Golden views will be your reward.

Oh, and bring a camera so you can get out and shoot.

Bill Ferris | October 2015

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