Enjoy the changing colors of autumn leaves, and even some snow.
Cottonwood is situated within the Verde Valley above the heat of the desert and below the cold of Arizona’s high country. Flanked by the red rocks of Sedona to the northeast and Mingus Mountains to the southwest, Cottonwood enjoys a moderate year-round climate at an elevation of 3,300 feet. Named after the trees that line the Verde River, Cottonwood is known as the “Heart of the Verde Valley.” The Verde Valley was recently named by Lonely PlanetTM as one of the Top 10 U.S. Travel Destinations. During the autumn season, you can ride the Verde Canyon Railroad through the vibrant canyon corridor on a fall color tour. The Verde Valley Wine Trail offers a variety of skillfully crafted wines to satisfy any wine taster’s palate. Visit the Blazin’ M Ranch Wild West Adventure for a Western experience of a lifetime for the entire family. Old Town Cottonwood is home to over 60 businesses, including eight wine- and spirit-tasting rooms, 16 cafes and restaurants, seven art galleries and several antique stores and boutique shops.
Payson is located near the geographical center of Arizona, and is often referred to as “ The Heart of Arizona.” An elevation of 4,890 feet above sea level provides for a mild climate and almost guaranteed sunny autumn days that create an excellent backdrop for viewing fall foliage. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, located just north of Payson on Highway 87, features the largest natural travertine bridge in the world.
Enjoy the hike to the bottom of the waterfalls, and take in the aspen, cottonwood and elder trees that surround the park. Payson’s weather is said to be “close to perfect,” as it enjoys four distinct seasons and is generally 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix (approximately a 1 1⁄2-hour drive away). Mid- to-late October provides the best time to witness the brilliant fall colors that line the Mogollon Rim during this time of year. Payson averages 21 inches of snow per year with the rst measurable snow generally occurring around mid-October in the higher elevations and during November closer to town.
Williams lies along the route of Historic Route 66, Interstate 40 and the Southwest Chief Amtrak train route. Williams is home to the southern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway, which takes visitors to Grand Canyon Village. Known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon,” Williams was the last town on Historic Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40 (Oct. 13, 1984). This four-season city offers unlimited recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, including seven area shing-lakes, hiking trails up Bill Williams Mountain and into Sycamore Canyon, an alpine ski area and an abundance of wildlife. Williams is home to Bearizona, where you can drive into the Arizona wilderness and witness animals in natural habitats from the comfort of your own vehicle. Ride the Polar Express Train through the nighttime wilderness of Williams to the “North Pole” from November 10 through January 6. Remember to wear your pajamas on the train, otherwise you might receive “coal,” rather than a “present!”