There are so many outdoor activities other than fishing and hunting that can be enjoyed in the Rim Country during the fall. Kathy and I make it an annual event to enjoy the autumn colors in a couple of our favorite canyons under the Mogollon Rim.
Of course, these out of the way haunts must have a healthy growth of deciduous trees of various varieties which add significantly to the wide array of colors displayed.
The last two weeks of October are perfect for the best colors at about the 6,000 feet elevation level. With such a wide range of topography, some areas at lower elevations will hit the peak colors a little later, while those a bit higher may have already displayed the fall plumage.
The key is to find that perfect canyon that has year-round water which cultivates a wide range of riparian growth. These canyons may have pine trees on the slopes, but in the very bottom there can be a complete canopy of leafy trees that may not be seen by the casual observer. There can be a wide range of species that may include ash, oak, maple, cottonwood, aspen and sycamore.
These trees can create an almost surreal panorama of colors that can only be taken in by wandering through the canyon floor for a leisurely afternoon walk. Wear a comfortable pair of hiking shoes and maybe a walking stick to aid in traversing the rocky terrain, which is often the case. A daypack with water, snacks, an extra sweatshirt, and certainly a camera will be well used in a couple of hours on the trail.
If you are planning a trip, watch the weather because high winds or heavy rains can quickly strip the trees of their fall colors. The window of opportunity may be only a couple of weekends to get the full display of the fiery reds, yellows and oranges that make for great photo shoots.
This can be the perfect getaway to invite friends, but make sure the area you pick is suitable for age level and conditioning for everyone making the trip. Some of the canyons under the Rim can compare to the popular array of colors of the more famous New England forest.
Make it a point to invite a friend and enjoy the fall colors in the Payson area, God’s creation.