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Arizona Fall Color Forecast 2022: A Fall Travel Guide

Temperatures will slowly drop over the next few weeks and for many Arizonans, lower temperatures mean it’s time travel to the high country to see the vivid fall foliage of aspens, oaks and maples displaying golden and burgundy seasonal leaves.

But are this year’s fall colors worth it?

The Arizona Republic has spoken Flagstaff-based Forest Service silviculturist Patrick Moore to learn more.

Moore describes himself as an applied forest ecologist. Some of its functions include understanding how the forest works, managing programs focused on forest landscape restoration, resource protection and stewardship.

Here’s what he had to say about this year’s fall forecast.

Why do the leaves change color in the fall?

According to Moore, three main factors cause leaves to change color in the fall: leaf pigmentation, length of daylight, and weather conditions.

Pigments are the chemicals found inside each leaf. During the summer months, the leaves are green because of chlorophyll, the pigment that allows plants to make food from carbon dioxide and water. But chlorophyll production is not the same all year round. When the days get shorter during the fall months and the amount of sunlight also decreases chlorophyll production decreases, causing the leaves to lose that green color.

The aspens and their changing leaves draw visitors to northern Arizona each fall.  These trees were photographed at Lockett Meadow near Flagstaff on October 11, 2016.

“Eventually, as the season progresses and it starts to get colder and the day starts to get shorter, the leaves don’t produce as much chlorophyll as they start to break down,” Moore said.

“In aspens, for example, the chemicals break down in the leaf, and then the tree has the opportunity to reabsorb some of those nutrients, like phosphorus or nitrogen. And what will remain will be those bright colors that we see.

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When is the best time to see fall colors in Arizona?

While Moore says it will be difficult to determine how vibrant the leaf colors will be this year, indicators such as hot summer days with high humidity due to a successful monsoon season point to a season of Above average fall colors for 2022.

As for the fall months, Moore says the ideal weather conditions for a successful display of fall colors will be warm, sunny days and cool, cool nights. According to Moore, freezing temperatures are not ideal for leaves.

“The tusks on these sheets are really not designed to freeze at night,” Moore said. “So if they freeze we’re going to miss the fall colors and eventually the leaves will turn brown. But if we can have those warm, sunny fall days with cool, but not freezing nights, that’s somehow sort the perfect storm for what we are looking for.

Moore predicts the fall colors will be on full display somewhere between October 10 and 17.

Where to See Arizona’s Fall Colors

Moore recommends the following places to see Arizona’s fall colors:

  • North rim of the Grand Canyon.
  • White Mountains, a mountain range and highland region in eastern Arizona.
  • Oak Creek in Sedona.
  • When it reopens, Lockett Meadow in San Francisco’s Interior Peaks Basin is one of the most popular places to see Flagstaff’s fall colors. Although the area is currently closed due to the pipeline fire. For updates, visit: fs.usda.gov.

After:Where to See Arizona’s Best Leaves, and Things to Do Along the Way

There is also an app for that

Going to Flagstaff and want to know when and where to see the leaves? Check out the Flagstaff Visitor Center’s LEAF-ometer page.

The LEAF-ometer website (flagstaffarizona.org/plan-your-trip/leafometer) can help you track the changing fall colors around Flagstaff throughout the fall, from the San Francisco peaks to the canyon. of Oak Creek.

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You can connect with Arizona Republic culture and outside reporter Shanti Lerner via email at [email protected] or you can also follow her on Twitter.

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