The votes are in – these are the three top Arizona fall foliage gems worth checking out.
A recent survey by Mixbook, a photo book brand, asked 3,000 respondents which under-the-radar destinations they would most like to visit to see fall foliage this year.
Arizona's top pick was Ramsey Canyon Preserve, down south in Cochise County, which was voted 44th best nationally.
Located at 27 E. Ramsey Canyon Road, in Hereford, Ramsey Canyon and the Upper San Pedro River Basin are situated within the Apache Highlands ecoregion, which encompasses central and southeastern Arizona, southwest New Mexico and the northern Sierra Occidental of Mexico, according to the Preserve.
“Set amidst the desert landscape, this lesser-known preserve transforms into a stunning tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows during autumn,” the survey notes. “Its off-the-beaten-path appeal, diverse ecosystems, and tranquil ambiance offer a unique escape for nature enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the vibrant beauty of the changing seasons.”
The second-highest chosen Arizona location was Boyce Thompson Arboretum, which came in ranked 85th best in the country and is located an hour west of Phoenix at 37615 E. Arboretum Way, in Superior.
“The arboretum's diverse collection of trees and plants transforms into a captivating display of vibrant colors during the fall months, providing a rare opportunity to experience the changing seasons in a desert landscape,” the survey explained.
The third-highest pick location in Arizona to make the list is the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks, which ranks 87th best in the nation, according to respondents.
The maximum elevation there is 12,666 feet, according to the University of Arizona Geological Survey. Located 15 miles north of Flagstaff on paved and dirt Forest Roads, the U.S. Forest Services advises residents to drive northeast of Flagstaff on US Highway 89 for 12.5 miles and to turn left on Forest Road 552 directly across from the Sunset Crater National Monument turnoff. Follow FR 552 for approximately one mile, then turn right at the Lockett Meadow sign and continue to the campground. This dirt road is closed in early spring and late fall due to snow.
“The towering aspen trees that blanket this area burst into a stunning array of golden hues during the autumn months, contrasting beautifully against the backdrop of the rugged peaks,” the survey describes. “Its secluded location and the sense of serenity it provides make it a cherished spot for experiencing the magic of fall colors in a lesser-known yet captivating destination.”
Coming in first place in the U.S. on the Mixbook survey is Sterling Forest State Park, New York.
“It offers a less crowded alternative to other popular spots, allowing visitors to enjoy the vibrant autumn colors in a peaceful setting,” the survey notes. “The park's diverse landscapes, from tranquil lakes to dense forests, provide a unique backdrop for the brilliant reds, oranges, and golds that define the season.”