Sep 22, 2023 - News

The best time to see changing leaves in Arizona this fall

Predicted fall foliage progression in the western U.S. 🍂
Data: SmokyMountains.com; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios

Saturday marks the first day of fall. Though with temperatures still lingering around 100℉ in the Valley, it might not feel like it.

Yes, but: In the higher elevations of northern Arizona, there's a telltale sign that autumn is on its way: Changing leaves.

What's happening: Using historical weather reports, tree species info and user data, travel brand SmokyMountains.com put together 2023 foliage prediction maps of the U.S.

  • Yavapai County is expected to start seeing some patchy fall colors as soon as next week.
  • The peak dates for fall foliage across most of northern Arizona are predicted between Oct. 16 and Oct. 23.

Zoom in: Some of our favorite places to catch the vibrant displays include:

Of note: Though northern Arizona gets much of the fall fanfare, mountainous regions of southern Arizona put on a beautiful show as well. That area is set to peak around Oct. 23. Check out:

The intrigue: Your window to view the bright hues might be trickier to predict, as climate change impacts when leaves change — and how colorful they get.

Between the lines: The green color in leaves comes from chlorophyll, the pigment that helps plants turn sunlight into energy via photosynthesis.

  • As nights get longer and there's less sunlight in the fall, leaves stop making chlorophyll.
  • The green color fades and the yellows, oranges, reds or purples become visible.
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