Courtesy of Coconino National Forest
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., Oct. 2, 2020 — As fall colors start to peak in the Coconino National Forest, Forest Service personnel will begin managing vehicle access to Lockett Meadow over the next few weekends to ensure visitors can safely travel the forest road leading to this popular destination.
A weekend vehicle limit will be enforced beginning tomorrow (Oct. 3) for the next few weekends in order to lessen the crowding on the trails and to promote safety on Forest Road (FR) 552—the only forest road leading to Lockett Meadow. FR 552 is a narrow, rocky and rough forest road alongside a steep cliff that can be unsafe and difficult for opposing traffic to pass one another.
Since the meadow is typically full of vehicles by 8 a.m. on weekends, personnel will only allow vehicles to drive up FR 552 after enough vehicles have exited the area in the mornings. Vehicles will not be allowed uphill once the maximum capacity of 100 vehicles has been reached, and visitors should be aware that the wait may be very long.
Motorists using FR 552 at any time should pay attention to oncoming traffic and blind corners, and vehicles with trailers are strongly discouraged. Lockett Meadow Campground has 17 campsites ($18/night until Oct. 12) that are on a first-come, first-served basis. The 100-vehicle restriction will not apply to those camping at Lockett Meadow Campground.
Other locations available for viewing fall colors
There are many other locations throughout the Coconino National Forest where visitors can view stunning fall colors. The following is a list of locations that forest visitors might consider as an alternative to Lockett Meadow, which are also listed on our Fall Colors web page:
- Hart Prairie Road (FR 151) – Accessed via U.S. Highway 180, this forest road goes through aspen groves and has superb views of the San Francisco Peaks.
- Around the Peaks Loop (FR 418) – Can be accessed on the west side of the San Francisco Peaks by U.S. Highway 180 and Forest Road 151, or on the east side of the Peaks by U.S. Highway 89 near the Sunset Crater turnoff. This road travels along the north side of the Peaks, with views of aspen on the Peaks and along the road. It can be a little rough for passenger cars in some areas but is still passable. Drive with care.
- 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 which leads to a thick stand of aspen.
- Freidlein Prairie (FR 522) – Accessed via U.S. Highway 180 and up Snowbowl Road approximately two miles, this road is very rough, but offers beautiful views throughout. High-clearance vehicles are strongly recommended.
- Schultz Pass (FR 420) – Accessed via U.S. Highway 180 and Schultz Pass Road, FR 420 takes you through Schultz Pass between the San Francisco Peaks and Mt. Elden. Fall colors can be viewed from the road, but some areas of this road may require high-clearance vehicles.
- Oak Creek Canyon – Accessed via state Route 89A that runs from Sedona to Flagstaff. Popular destinations include West Fork, which offers a multitude of fall colors along the hiking trail. The road through Oak Creek Canyon is paved and has heavy visitation, so motorists should be aware that heavy and slow traffic is the norm.
- 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. Incredible fall colors aren’t the only spectacular sight in this area, as FR 300 runs along and atop the Mogollon Rim, boasting spectacular views of the Rim, with even more fall colors on side forest roads FR 308 (Kehl Ridge), FR 95 (Fred Haught Ridge) and FR 139 (Dick Hart Ridge).