GetTheFunOut, aka GTFO, is about enjoying life. While the focus is on travel and outdoors, we're here to help you have fun all around Arizona at festivals, fairs, food trucks, museums, sports, and all of the other unique activities Arizona has to offer. Follow on twitter @gtfoaz to get updates on what's going on around the state.
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If you've lived your entire Phoenix life without knowing the fall wonderland that lies 2 hours to the north, then you've been missing one of the greatest highlights of Arizona. The trees of Northern Arizona create some of the most beautiful fall colors I've ever seen.
Aspen groves create their own Instagram filter
Locket Meadow and the Inner Basin trail are the premiere leafing destination in Northern Arizona. After a harrowing drive up a forest road you are greeted with a beautiful meadow ringed by unbroken groves of aspen trees. The scenery is nearly unrivaled, making the panoramic vista all the more spectacular. The Inner Basin trail allows the active leafer an opportunity to venture deep into the aspen groves to be sandwiched between golden leaves and golden leaf litter. It's an 8-mile out-and-back starting at 9,000' and ending at over 10,000'...the leaves aren't the only thing that will take your breath away!
A tale of two seasons
The downside of being one of the most known and photographed fall destinations in Arizona are the crowds. In years past there was a free-for-all to get up the mountain and park, resulting often in driving the parking loop many times in hopes that someone left. Last year the forest service started controlling traffic with a one-down, one-up policy. The positive part of this is a guaranteed parking spot upon arrival; the negative was waiting in line for 30+ minutes at the bottom of the mountain. Even with the new organization the traffic jam is enough to get your trip off to an unpleasant start.
But there's another option!
The leaves and ferns of Kachina Trail
A shockingly under-visited destination that has comparable fall color is Kachina Trail on the opposite side of the Peaks. Kachina Trail lacks the sprawling view of the aspen grove that Locket Meadow has, but what you lose there you gain in a beautiful, aspen-lined drive up Snowbowl Road with a pull-off at Aspen Corner for easy access to an aspen grove. Once at the trailhead you will find significantly more parking because it leaves from a parking lot at Snowbowl. And overall the trail is far less trafficked and much less taxing.
On the trail the trees are not as dense, but still beautifully abundant. Kachina Trail gets more precipitation, so rather than a leaf-litter floor, the aspens are contrasted by a carpet of red ferns. It has essentially all the positives of Locket Meadow, with far greater ease of access.
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Big Guy Gear Reviews are what the
sound like--gear reviews focused on the usability for big guys. If you're a
proportional six-footer, congrats: you can use literally every piece of gear on
the market. If you're a big guy, however, you know it's a frustrating
marketplace. I'm here to help. For reference, here are my basic
dimensions: 6'5", 235 pounds, dress shirt is 17"x37". I wear XL-tall shirts and 38x34
pants—as long as they’re not straight legged, boot cut, or whatever else skinny
hipsters have pushed the market toward. I'm built with more of a weak-man's
barrel chest than a fat-man's beer belly. I have what Lululemon calls
"hockey butt." If you're tall and not broad, or broad and not tall,
these reviews should still help you find usable gear. Each year I return to the Blue Ridge
Mountain area of Virginia to hunt white-tailed deer. Each year I am confounded by hunting
clothing cut to fit gnomes and Santas. If
I want a shir…
Admittedly, Roanoke VA isn't on the tip of anyone's tongue in Phoenix. Most people I meet only know of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. When I clarify that there is, indeed, an existent Roanoke in the Appalachian Mountains they hear "Appalachia" and assume inbred hillbillies. When I clarify there's a difference between Appalachia and Appalachian, they lose interest and talk about something other than where I'm from--with someone other than me. Ten years ago, I might have agreed that their disinterest was justified; now, though, Roanoke is becoming a bit like a Fort Collins of the East.
For visitors from hot Arizona, Roanoke can easily be a three season destination. Come for the spring blooms, the fall colors, or the ability to condescend to locals about how 92 degrees in July is NOT hot.
I've written before
about my experiences hiking Havasupai, but with it now being Havasupai hiking
season I wanted to take a moment to boil it down to the basics of what you need
to know to have a fun hike, including a basic gear list.
And here's a free pro tip: cache snacks and drinks in your car for after the hike. You've never seen anyone so jealous as my friends when I pulled out Doritos and a Dr. Pepper to munch on immediately after finishing the hike.