Writer Sue Kern-Fleischer

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]all is nature’s poem. And for us mere mortals, its stanzas evoke songs, art—and many a road trip.

After a long, hot summer, fall’s cooling temperatures mark the beginning of new school days, family time and holidays. Often, we’re ready in this Valley where any temperature under 100 degrees is a relief and autumn mornings require a pumpkin latte, while afternoons inspire a dip in the pool.

Professional photographer Michael Wilson has captured some of Arizona’s most magical fall moments. His love of Arizona nature and artistic eye shines through in these captivating works of landscape photography art and we’re honored to share them with you.

A short drive from the Valley is all that’s needed for a true changing-of-the-leaves fall experience. Just an hour or two north of the Valley is Sedona, where temperatures drop to an average of 78 degrees by October. Bright and golden hues of red, green and orange canvas its valley, resulting in a sublime sight that gives the city’s famous majestic red rocks a run for its money.

Drive North up the 89A under the canopy of trees to West Fork trail, which can be accessed off the windy highway. A glance up reveals nature’s carpet, which protects hikers from the sun as they tread carefully along this easy, yet adventurous hike that traverses the creek and follows the bottom of the canyon edge.

Continue north to Flagstaff to buy an end-of-summer season ticket up the Arizona Snowbowl chairlift. This ride lifts gazers up 11,500 feet to the tippy-top of the San Francisco Peaks’ western edge. This bird’s-eye view of foliage travels from Sedona to the Grand Canyon.

When back on terra firma, admire the colorful contrast along Kachina Trail on Humphrey’s Peak: the bark of the white Aspen trees against the golden hues of the leaves. This popular high forest trail crosses canyons, offers panoramic views and descends into a dramatic high lava cliff.

Then settle into Lockett Campground. Located at an elevation of 8,600 feet, this campsite boasts impressive views of the peaks and provides an autumn display of Flagstaff’s Inner Basin.

Join Images Arizona as we celebrate the vibrant fall colors of Arizona. Share your favorite Arizona fall images on our Facebook and Instagram pages with the hashtags #iamAZproud and #imagesAZ.

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ichael Wilson
Hometown: Prescott, Arizona
Current: Prescott, Arizona

Photography experience: “I got into photography about nine years ago, soon after early digital cameras started to become more available. I’ve always liked technology and thought digital cameras were so cool. Initially, I recall trying to figure out why some people’s photos looked so great when compared to the rather bland photos I was taking. I started learning and experimenting with different programs and techniques, and quickly got hooked. I definitely have a geeky side, which drew me to the technical aspects of photography, composition, and especially the world of digital post-processing. Seeing the final image and realizing that I can create something artistic that actually looks good has made it a real passion for me.”

Photography niche: “I’m a sucker for a beautiful landscape, and landscape photography is definitely my passion. My niche would be Arizona landscapes. Since I live here, places I initially thought to visit and photograph were in the state. I soon realized how much Arizona offers for a landscape photographer. Arizona has some of the most unique geology in the world, such as the Grand Canyon, which is completely within the state, and the other-worldly rock formations throughout the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. Arizona has rivers, waterfalls and pine forests with mountain elevations of 10,000-feet, to deserts with forests of saguaros. For a photographer, Southwest landscapes can be much less cluttered with vegetation, offering so many more unique compositions.”

Favorite Arizona fall drive? “I really like Rim Road (FS300), off State Route 87. On one side of the road are clusters of trees showing their variety of fall colors surrounded by pine forests. On the other side are amazing vistas from the top of the Mogollon Rim. It’s unpaved, but such an amazing road to travel.”

Favorite Arizona fall destination? “Sedona is always my favorite location. The amazing red rock cliffs, streams, and valleys are beautiful any time of year, but fall colors really make it magical. With the variety of trees, Sedona also provides for a variety of fall colors, from deep reds to oranges to yellows.”