Aspen Leaves and Autumn Color

The changing color of aspen leaves has peaked in many locations — and just now peaking in others. It’s always interesting to see which areas go early and which hang on until later.

Here are some photos of aspen around northern Arizona this past week.

Going, going... (Hockderffer Hills near FR151.)
Going, going… (Hockderffer Hills near FR151.)
Arizona Trail near Hart Prairie.
Arizona Trail near Hart Prairie.
Arizona Trail.
Arizona Trail.
Aspen trees with shadows.
Aspen trees with shadows.
Aspen trees at Aspen Corner on Snowbowl Road. (Notice how many trees have been scarred from folks carving their initials in the bark.)
Aspen trees at Aspen Corner on Snowbowl Road. (Notice how many trees have been scarred from folks carving their initials in the bark.)
Forest Road 151.
Forest Road 151.
A tunnel through the trees on FR 151.
A tunnel through the trees on FR 151.

Autumn Colors–2019

It was a dry summer (driest on record in Flagstaff) and autumn hasn’t been too wet, either. And, yet, the autumn colors have been good. Very good, even, with leaves staying on the trees well into mid- and late October.

In early October, the aspen were changing colors on the north side of the San Francisco Peaks.

North side of the San Francisco Peaks from FR 418. 10/08/2019.
North side of the San Francisco Peaks from FR 418. 10/08/2019.
Aspen on the north side of the San Francisco Peaks. 10/08/2019.
Aspen on the north side of the San Francisco Peaks. 10/08/2019.

A week later, the leaves had already peaked along Waterline Road and were falling from the trees and covering the road.

Waterline Road. 10/15/2019.
Waterline Road. 10/15/2019.
Waterline Road. 10/15/2019.
Waterline Road. 10/15/2019.

As a bonus, we stopped to view the tree carvings, known as arborglyphs or dendroglyphs, made by Basque sheepherders.

Arborglyphs made by Basque sheepherders
Arborglyphs made by Basque sheepherders

The forecast calls for several breezy days and this may finally knock the rest of the leaves from the trees and onto the ground.

Bonus: Zion National Park along the swithbacks overlooking Pine Creek.

Pine Creek, Zion National Park.
Pine Creek, Zion National Park.

Autumn Colors in Northern Arizona — 2018

The colors have peaked and the leaves have fallen across the higher elevations of northern Arizona. Here are some of my favorites from this season.

Aspen leaves on Weatherford Trail.
Aspen leaves on Weatherford Trail.
Waterline Road.
Waterline Road.
Inner Basin Trail after an early-season snowfall.
Inner Basin Trail after an early-season snowfall.
This is the classic shot along Waterline Road.
This is the classic shot along Waterline Road.
Waterline Road.
Waterline Road.
Near Arizona Snowbowl.
Near Arizona Snowbowl.
Snowbowl Road after an early-season snowfall.
Snowbowl Road after an early-season snowfall.
Weatherford Trail.
Weatherford Trail.
Frozen water droplets on a leaf.
Frozen water droplets on a leaf.
Colorful hillside along the Elden Springs Trail.
Colorful hillside along the Elden Springs Trail.
Reflection in Frances Short Pond.
Reflection in Frances Short Pond.
Inner Basin and the Kachina Peaks Wilderness.
Inner Basin and the Kachina Peaks Wilderness.

 

Aspen colors 2017: Inner Basin and Arizona Trail

Some years it’s easy to get great photographs of the changing colors of aspen leaves in northern Arizona. The weather is good, the timing is right, you’re in the perfect place. It all comes together.

That wasn’t this year.

We set out several times on the mountain bikes to see and enjoy the color. First we were too early; then we were too late. We were out of town on a long-planned trip and the peak color season occurred while we were gone. It happens.

Not that I’m complaining. I’ve been able to get good photographs many times in the past and there will be opportunities again in coming years.

So here is a collection of pre-season photos, post-season photos, and a few from several years ago comparing colors in the Inner Basin on similar dates but different years.

Early season colors seen along Waterline Road (09/25/2017)
Early season colors seen along Waterline Road (09/25/2017)
Early season colors seen along Waterline Road (09/25/2017)
Early season colors seen along Waterline Road (09/25/2017)
Early season colors along the Arizona Trail near Bismarck Lake (09/29/2017)
Early season colors along the Arizona Trail near Bismarck Lake (09/29/2017)
Late-season aspen along Waterline Road (10/17/2017)
Late-season aspen along Waterline Road (10/17/2017)
Late-season aspen along Waterline Road (10/17/2017)
Late-season aspen along Waterline Road (10/17/2017)
Mountain biking on Inner Basin Trail (10/17/2017)
Mountain biking on Inner Basin Trail (10/17/2017)
Mountain biking on Inner Basin Trail (10/17/2017)
Mountain biking on Inner Basin Trail (10/17/2017)
Mountain biking on Inner Basin Trail in 2014 (10/14/2014).
Mountain biking on Inner Basin Trail in 2014 (10/14/2014).

Based on previous years, I thought we might still find some great color in the Inner Basin this late in the season. We certainly did in 2014—but not 2017.

And here are a couple from 2015—another good year for aspen photography.

Inner Basin Trail (10/07/2015).
Inner Basin Trail (10/07/2015).
Lockett Meadow and Inner Basin (10/08/2015).
Lockett Meadow and Inner Basin (10/08/2015).

An early snowfall on the higher summits juxtaposed with the aspen almost at their peak made an interesting composition. Getting this view required more hiking and climbing that anticipated—but ultimately worth it.