When baby boomer travelers get the annual itch for fall colors, Arizona’s Tonto National Forest isn’t generally one of the first pictures that come to mind.
While colorful deciduous trees are found in Tonto’s higher elevations in the northwest corner of the forest, I captured this beautiful view down the back-country section of Cave Creek Road, about an hour north of Scottsdale, a few Septembers ago.
Now granted, I did take a little artistic liberty with the photograph’s color saturation. But trust me, even without my post-production magic, this scene was so captivating, we decided to have a picnic in this very spot.
Other than the sound of a gentle breeze, it was completely silent, and we were miles away from the hustle and bustle of civilization.
Ahhhh. Deep breath.
The Tonto National Forest, Arizona, embraces almost 3 million acres of rugged and spectacularly beautiful country, ranging from Saguaro cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains beneath the Mogollon Rim. This variety in vegetation and range in altitude (from 1,300 to 7,900 feet) offers outstanding recreational opportunities throughout the year, whether it’s lake beaches or cool pine forest.
As the fifth largest forest in the United States , the Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited “urban” forests in the U.S. (approximately 5.8 million visitors annually). Its boundaries are Phoenix to the south, the Mogollon Rim to the north and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations to the east.
In the winter, national and international visitors flock to Arizona to share the multi-hued stone canyons and Sonoran Desert environments of the Tonto’s lower elevations with Arizona residents. In the summer, visitors seek refuge from the heat at the Salt and Verde rivers and their chain of six man-made lakes. Visitors also head to the high country to camp amidst the cool shade of tall pines and fish the meandering trout streams under the Mogollon Rim.
We feel very, very fortunate to have such a wonderful resource a mere 10 miles from our front door. We’ve literally logged hundreds of miles exploring the Tonto, and we would strongly encourage you to get out there and see if you can find some of your own fall colors in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest.
Sound good to you, Kimosabe?
Here’s a Google Map to the location of this photograph. Make certain you have a full tank of gas!
If you enjoyed this article, please follow us at our website, our Facebook page, and on Twitter.