Fall colors arrive in Coconino National Forest

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(Source: 3TV/ CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/ CBS 5)

If you plan on taking a day to drive up to the Coconino National Forest to see the newly colored foliage, you might want to plan ahead.

Visitors and tourists scramble to find the perfect spot where fall meets color in the surrounding forests of northern Arizona. The Coconino National Forest advises travelers to scope out the spot where they want to enjoy the scenery, as well as avoid traffic problems.

[SLIDESHOW: Best of Arizona's fall colors 2017]

Lockett Meadow is a popular destination for viewing golden aspens and colored trees. However, vehicle access to the meadow will be managed over the next few weekends to ensure public safety. There will be Forest Service personnel positioned at the bottom of the road that leads to the meadow, near the junction of Forest Roads (FR) 552 and 418, starting October 7th. A limit of 100-vehicles will be allowed at Lockett Meadow, but does not apply to campers.

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Drivers should also be aware that FR-552, is a narrow, uneven, and rocky road that drives along a steep cliff that can be unsafe and difficult for opposing traffic to pass one another. Passenger cars, buses, and vehicles towing trailers are strongly discouraged. If you plan on using that road, try to find a vehicle that can handle the narrow, rough roads.

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Instead of visiting Lockett Meadow, the Coconino National Forest has a list of other locations to see the beautiful fall colors!

  • Hart Prairie Road (FR-151): This road curves through golden aspen groves, and have a beautiful view of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff. This road is accessible via U.S. Highway 180.
  • Around the Peaks Loop (FR-418): This 2-hour drive takes you around the massive peaks to see every angle of their beauty. You can find maps and directions to this road here, on the USDA.gov website.
  • Snowbowl Road (FR-516):  Accessed by U.S. Highway 180, this paved road up to Arizona Snowbowl offers great colors and views. At the top, visitors can park at the Humphrey’s Trailhead and take a walk across Hart Prairie, as well as the Kachina Trail to leads to a thick stand of aspen.
  • Freidlein Prairie (FR-522): This shorter road is very rough, but has awesome views throughout. This road leads to a campsite, where you can either stay the night, or just the afternoon. Accessed via U.S. Highway 180 and up Snowbowl Road approximately two miles, and high-clearance vehicles are strongly recommended.
  • Mt. Elden Peak (FR-557): This road takes you to the top of Mt. Elden, with views of the south side of the San Francisco Peaks, and other fall colors around the area. Accessed via U.S. Highway 180 and Schultz Pass Road.
  • Oak Creek Canyon: This gorgeous canyon road takes you through some of most scenic views Arizona has to offer. From the Interstate-17, if you take Exit 298 and head West on AZ-179, that road will take you straight through Sedona, and the immaculate Red Rocks. A trip to Sedona is absolutely recommended to anyone who can take a drive on through the gorgeous city of Sedona. Take the AZ-179 till you meet the 89A in the middle of Sedona, then go North on the 89A. This will take you into Oak Creek Canyon, and all of its natural beauty. Be cautious of the one switchback a few miles into the drive. The sharp corners are not recommended for trailers or passenger vehicles. Once you hit the switchback, there will be about seven miles of road work from milepost 390 to 397, until Nov. 21.  
  • Mogollon Rim (FR-300): Forest Road 300 is located in the southern portion of Coconino National Forest and is accessed via state Route 87 and several other forest roads. FR 300 runs along and atop the Mogollon Rim and boasts incredible fall colors along the route, with even more fall colors on side forest roads FR 308 (Kehl Ridge), FR 95 (Fred Haught Ridge) and FR 139 (Dick Hart Ridge).

Check traffic and roadwork conditions before heading out to see the Arizona scenery! Remember to never text and drive. 

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