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Five Perfect Fall Road Trips

Where the leaves are yellower and the breeze is cooler.

October 10, 2017

If you live in Tucson, you know that the first half of October can be… trying, to say the least. Our lethargic bodies, limp plants, and fur-covered dogs are so desperate for fall temperatures, and yet the weather just isn’t ready to comply. Early October is the perfect time to hop in the car (or, for our cyclist friends, on the saddle) and escape to cooler temperatures just down the road. A few hours away, you’ll find banana-colored leaves on autumn-induced Aspen trees, hikes that won’t make you sweat profusely, and weather cool enough to make you want a cozy sweater.

  1. Portal, Arizona: (Lows: mid-50s, Highs: mid-80s) Nestled at the foot of the Chiricahua Mountains, Portal is a bird-watcher’s paradise. Spend the day at Rustler Park, where you’ll see tall pines, aspens, and wildflowers. Then, head back to town and learn everything you’ll ever need to know about local reptiles at the Chiricahua Desert Museum. Wrap up the day with some good grub at the Portal Peak Lodge, Store & Café, Portal’s one and only eatery, where you’re sure to have intriguing conversations with the many birders, artists, hunters, hikers, photographers, and campers that visit the area.

    Image credit: Chloe Tarvin

  2. Silver City, New Mexico: (Lows: mid-40s, Highs: mid-70s) Venture just barely outside of the Arizona state line into Silver City, New Mexico and you’ll be greeted with a community of artists, musicians, and a whole lot of great vibes. Catch some live music (and maybe a drink) at Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House before exploring acres upon acres of gorgeous views in the Gila National Forest. A jaunt through the city will lead you to delicious food and incredible local art. Let your nose and eyes lead the way!

    Image courtesy of Visit Silver City

  3. Arivaca, Arizona (Lows: high-50s, Highs: high-80s): Just one hour southwest of Tucson is a beautiful town surrounded by grassy hills. Energize your Arivaca adventure with a cup of coffee at Gadsden Coffee Company, which offers shade-grown coffee, food, decaffeinated drinks, and live acoustic music on Friday evenings. Then, head to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and keep an eye out for yellow-billed cuckoo, gray hawks, javelina, white-tailed deer, coyote, and other wild animals. After you grab a healthy snack at Marian’s Farmers’ Market, continue down the road to Arivaca Artists’ Co-op Gallery to find your home’s next pièce de résistance.

    Image credit: Logan Biggers

  4. Sierra Vista, Arizona: (Lows: high-50s, Highs: mid-80s) If you’ve never made the time to stop in Sierra Vista, you may be surprised to learn that half the city’s restaurants are ethnic eateries. After fueling yourself at any of the city’s local establishments, make a trip to Ramsey Canyon Preserve, “a lush and varied riparian ecosystem of semidesert grasslands and pine-fir forests, one of the most biologically diverse in the country.”

    Image credit: Ben Sisco

  5. Mount Lemmon, Arizona(Lows: mid-40s, Highs: low-70s) It probably comes as no surprise that Mount Lemmon is one of Tucson’s favorite cool weather getaways. After all, the top of the mountain is named “Summerhaven.” Pack a picnic and drive all the way to the top, where the weather is cool and fall foliage is in full swing. Hike the Marshall Gulch/Aspen loop to see both running water and gorgeous quaking aspen alike. On your hike, be sure to keep an eye out for edible forest fungi, which make for a great dinner. As the sun begins to set and the chill kicks in, stop off at the infamous Cookie Cabin for a ginormous cookie and a steaming cup of hot cocoa. Then, marvel at the fact that Tucson is a mere 60 minutes away.

    Image credit: Shelley Littin

Ready for another Baja Arizona adventure? Check out these Five Road Trips for Your Baja Arizona Bucket List.

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