Where To Find The Best Fall Color


Freelance photographer, Nick Berezenko of Pine, has had many of his award-winning art works published in Arizona Highways magazines.

For those who want to enjoy the high country's majestic fall scenery, Berezenko shares one of his favorite spots for photography.

"It's up on the Rim near where East Clear Creek drains," he said. "There, you'll see outstanding fall colors."

Follow Highway 260 north past Strawberry into the Coconino National Forest. Drive past FR 300 to the Potato Lake turnoff and turn right onto the forest road.

"Drive down to a fork in the road and turn east," Berezenko said. "Then start exploring on the top of the plateaus and in the side canyons. You'll find some beautiful aspens hidden in pockets."

For professional photographer David Beckstead, Christopher Creek's See Canyon is a great place to view the changing fall colors.


Late October is the best time to capture the spectacular fall colors in the Tonto National Forest.

He describes the canyon as a place where "fall colors and abstract patterns reflect on the surface of the creek, splashing through my camera lens and bathing my film in warm reds, yellows and oranges."

His vivid description of the maples, sycamores and aspens is sure to inspire most any amateur photographer to pick up the family camera and head for the canyon located 21 miles from Payson on Highway 260 east near Christopher Creek. See Canyon can be accessed off Forest Road 284 which has its origins across from the Christopher Creek market in the center of town.

In addition to the changing colors in See Canyon, visitors will find a deep pool with a waterfall.

Another Rim country spot to capture the magic of the fall colors is near Woods Canyon Lake. Take Highway 260 from Payson to FR 300 located at mile marker 282.4. Turn west on FR 300 and drive to FR 105.

For those looking for a bit of exercise, a one-half mile guided nature trail winds through stands of oak, Douglas fir and ponderosa. Also, a sinkhole can be seen from the trail.

In the Payson Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest, a 15-mile stretch along East Webber Creek is a stream-side trail route through a majestic forest of pine, oak, ash and walnut. There is also a trickling spring about halfway up the trail.

For those who want to view fall changes without getting out of the car, the Rim Vista Scenic Overlook in the Chevelon Ranger District is a popular option. It's located on the Rim off FR 300 three miles west of the forest road's junction with Highway 260 and one-half mile east of its junction with FR 105. FR 300 is paved from Highway 260 to the overlook. From the overlook, you can see portions of Hells Gate, Four Peaks, Mazatzal wilderness and Sierra Ancha.

Wherever you opt to view or photograph fall colors in the Rim country, Beckstead had a few recommendations.

Beckstead recommends Kodak Royal Gold 200 film for 35mm cameras and putting "some people next to the color ... it makes for a great portrait background."

Photographers who own single-lens reflex cameras such as a Canon or Nikon, should pack a wide-angle lens (20- to 24-millimeter) and/or a telephoto lens (35- to 50- or 80- to 200-millimeter), and take along a tripod, suggested Beckstead.

Most state-of-the-art digital cameras, which are rapidly growing in popularity, offer a variety of options that produce outstanding photos. They include digital subject programs that optimizes the camera's exposure for specific conditions and subjects.

The landscape mode is optimized to produce sharp, colorful landscapes, and can be used with bright outdoor scenery.

The portrait mode, another choice for photographing fall colors, will reproduce warm soft tones and a slight defocusing of the background. The shallower depth of field softens the background.

Before heading out into the cool, beautiful forest for a day of viewing the fall colors, remember it is a fragile land. Enjoy it and always treat it with the respect it deserves.

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