Posted By Visit Mesa Team
August 12, 2022
Best Spots for Fall Colors
Our favorite part about fall, is the vibrant colors of red, orange and yellow that take over the desert flora in late November/early December. If you are looking for fall colors in the desert, we have the best spots picked out for you!
This Arboretum located in Queen Creek Canyon, just 30 minutes from Mesa, is the state's oldest and largest botanical garden. With spectacular views of Picketpost Mountain, Boyce Thompson Arboretum features plant collections from the world’s deserts, historic buildings and hidden gardens along miles of trails. The Arboretum has been called "the most enchanting" Audubon Important Birding Area in Arizona and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Vibrant fall colors take over the lush flora, which makes late November the best time of the year to explore the gardens.
Winter Hours: October - April, open daily 8AM - 5PM (Last entry 4PM)
Lower Salt River
The fall foliage appearing around the lower Salt River adds vibrant color to this already scenic destination. As the Granite Reef Dam shuts down water flow, the river's elevation will stay low until mid Spring. The combination of the sunset hitting the Bulldog Cliffs and the magical colors surrounding the river, make this spot one of the most photogenic areas to hike in. You might even cross the majestic Salt River horses! There are as many as 500 of these magnificent animals roaming the water’s edge on the lower Salt River and the shoreline around Saguaro Lake. You can read more about the horses HERE
One of the best ways to explore the lower Salt River, would be via horseback at Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch. Not only will the horses cross the river, but you will get to see the stunning Bulldog Cliffs up close! Watch the sun glow through the water during one of their morning rides or book later and experience the sun setting down on the cliffs.
Check out their tours HERE
Wind Cave Trail at Usery Mountain Regional Park
Although the colors don't change drastically at Usery Mountain, there is still no doubt that this is one of the best hikes to see desert flora. Located on the Valley’s east side, this park takes in 3,648 acres set at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains, adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. The park contains a large variety of plants and animals that call the lower Sonoran Desert home. Along the most popular feature of the park, the Wind Cave Trail, water seeps from the roof of the alcove to support hanging gardens of Rock Daisy. The Wind Cave is formed at the boundary between the volcanic tuff and granite on Pass Mountain. Watch the sky turn bright orange and then into a soft pink as you witness the sun set on thousands of native plants along this 2,840-foot elevation hike.