From canyons to deserts to buttes, everything about the Arizona landscape tells a story about its history. Moving wind and water continues to shape a living sculpture millions of years in the making. Arizona’s wild geological history is told in layers of sedimentary rock that expose a mosaic of color and texture, and in the Fall, that story is punctuated with rich tones and bright hues of aspens and maples bursting into blankets of lemon yellow, cranberry, and sienna.
A vacation to the Grand Canyon state in autumn is a visit to one of the most varied lands in the United States, at the peak of its natural beauty.
Planning a family vacation to Arizona in the fall means you’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy a stay in the spectacular beauty of the wild west while celebrating the harvest season. Take in the foliage on short hikes on trails from Sedona to the Grand Canyon, or join in on over 70 harvest festivals in the Phoenix area. No matter what activities your family enjoys most, Arizona will leave your family with memories and shared stories of one of the most unique and varied vacation destinations in the country.
Peep Some Fiery-Colored Leafs
In November, the richness and vibrancy of autumn reaches its heights in the areas about a two-hour scenic drive from Phoenix. Head to Sedona by way of Oak Creek Canyon’s 89A where you’ll begin to take in the dramatic shift from desert to red rock, then head out to the hiking trails for some of the best views in the area, including Sedona and Flagstaff.
West Fork Trail— One of the most popular foliage paths, this trail is lined with willows and maples, making it a leaf peeping experience that nearly rivals those found along the northeastern states. Rating: Easy
Huckaby Trail— Cottonwoods and other bushes usually peak in the first couple of weeks in November along this 3 hour trip. Rating: Moderate.
Secret Canyon Trail— Though the hues tend to be more subdued and the experience more solitary, you still find the rich cranberry of peak-season maples along the canyon bottom. Rating: Strenuous
Kachina Trail— In November, Aspen set the groves alight in bright gold hues along five miles of trail descending 700 feet. It’s a rolling course through forest and meadows with panoramic view of Flagstaff. Rating: Moderate
Inner Basin Trail—Leading to an extinct volcano, this trail courses along Lockett Meadow surrounded by aspens and mountain peaks. Golden Aspens compliment the subtler hues of the Painted Desert. Rating: Moderate
Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail— Two trails include a paved loop allowing wheelchair access, and a longer loop on flatter terrain. Along with colorful Aspens, wildlife include jays, woodpeckers, hawk and deer. Rating: Easy
In Phoenix, Celebrate All Things Harvest
Beginning in September, if you’re in the mood for a celebration, you’ll find over 70 Phoenix area festivals to choose from. Sip on a prickly pear margarita as you take in an outdoor concert under the stars, or join the kids in a unique Halloween Spooktacular featuring 20 hot air balloons.
Hungry from all of that hiking and leaf peeping? For a week in September, more than 100 eateries participate in this Fall foodie all-you-can-eat festival. Try Southwestern dishes, vegan or gluten-free fare, or comfort food to soothe the taste buds.
Brazilian Day Festival
Call it Carnaval do Brasil in The Desert, but any way you celebrate it, the largest Brazilian Independence Day event in Arizona kicks off with live music and dancers, martial arts demonstrations, and of course, authentic Brazilian food and drinks! Samba until the sun goes down at 10pm!
Where can you find Hayrides, gather around bonfires, enjoy hillbilly pig races, and watch a pumpkin launch? Stop by Schnepf Farms in Queens Creek any weekend from October to March to enjoy all things harvest! Come with an appetite for the Chili dinner with homemade corn bread and grilled corn on the cob.
No October would be complete without a good Oktoberfest! Chandler, AZ invites you to grab your lederhosen and head downtown for a Saturday celebrating SanTan brewing Company’s 9th annual celebration of beer, brats, and bands. And yes, there will be polka music.
20 hot air balloons dish out 4,000 pounds of candy as they float above trick or treaters in this family fun Halloween celebration. Come for the music and food, but stay for the free haunted trail, and fireworks. You can even book a tethered balloon ride.
Before food trucks, there were chuck wagons. Chandler celebrates its culinary cowboy heritage with a Wild West celebration of all things Western. The festivities take place at Tumbleweed Ranch and include cast-iron cookery and reenactments of famous gunfights! Lucky you, the chuck wagons will try to impress you with their finest campfire cuisine for both breakfast and lunch.
For over 20 years, this festival and pre-holiday tradition has included live music to serenade you as you select your holiday gifts from arts and crafts created by 180 artists. And when you’re shopping is complete, relax in the sculpture garden or grab a delicious bite at the Scottsdale Art Museum’s nearby restaurants.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to Arizona than sand dunes and tumbleweeds! It’s the perfect fall vacation that’s sure to please your family no matter which terrain and activity you choose. Hike, drive, dance, and celebrate the splendor of this wild and colorful western getaway destination. And why not take advantage of Bluegreen’s latest offer? You get to stay in the amazing Cibola Vista resort, just 10 minutes from Phoenix. What could be better?
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Photo Credit: Like Lightbulbs by Alan Huett (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo Credit: 2014 Matsuri by John Kittelsrud (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Photo Credit: Glorious Aspens by Michael Selijos (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Photo Credit: The Boulders by Scott Taylor (CC BY-ND 2.0)