As fall colors arrive in Coconino National Forest, visitors often scramble for spots to view the spectacular reds, oranges and yellows that this season brings.
Due to the popularity of Lockett Meadow as a destination for viewing fall colors and aspen stands, vehicle access to the meadow will be managed over the next couple of weekends to ensure public safety.
Beginning Oct. 7, Forest Service personnel will be positioned in Lockett Meadow and at the bottom of the road that leads to the meadow (near the junction of Forest Roads 552 and 418). Personnel will not allow uphill traffic once the maximum capacity of approximately 100 vehicles has been reached in Lockett Meadow.
Forest Road (FR) 552, which is used to access the meadow, 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. Drivers should pay particular attention to oncoming traffic and blind corners. Passenger cars and vehicles with trailers are strongly discouraged.
Lockett Meadow Campground has 17 campsites ($16/night) that are on a first-come, first-served basis. The 100-vehicle restriction will not apply to those camping at Lockett Meadow. Those interested in viewing fall colors in Lockett Meadow should avoid weekends, as weekends tend to have the highest visitation numbers.
Other locations available for viewing fall colors:
Forest visitors are encouraged to seek other locations besides Lockett Meadow, as there are many locations to choose from. The following is a list of locations where one can view stunning fall colors across Coconino National Forest:
– 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 to 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.
– Mt Elden Peak (FR 557) – Accessed via U.S. Highway 180 and Schultz Pass Road, FR 557 takes you to the top of Mt. Elden, with views of the south side of the San Francisco Peaks and other fall colors in the immediate area.
– 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. FR 300 runs along and atop the Mogollon Rim and boasts incredible fall colors along the route, with even more fall colors on side forest roads FR 308 (Kehl Ridge), FR 95 (Fred Haught Ridge) and FR 139 (Dick Hart Ridge).
For more information and destinations to view fall colors on the Coconino, visit www.tinyurl.com/CocFallColors