11 Reasons Autumn in Sedona is So Cool!

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If you’re looking for something a bit more adult-oriented, Cliff Castle Casino’s Halloween Party regularly attracts hundreds of people from all over Arizona. This year’s party, with the theme Good vs. Evil, takes place Oct. 31 and includes the always-popular costume contest.

The party’s soundtrack comes from live music at the Dragonfly Lounge. The entire evening is set among the casino’s 20-lane bowling alley, video arcade, live-action blackjack and poker, 570 gaming machines, and four restaurants. Having a little too much fun (Halloween does fall on a Friday, after all)? Book a room at the casino’s 80-room hotel so you don’t have to drive home.

The 22nd Annual Halloween Safe and Fun Trick or Treat takes place Oct. 31, 5-8 p.m. in Uptown Sedona. Free. Parking is available in the municipal lot on Apple Ave., at the Hyatt Piñon Pointe or in the lots on Van Deren Rd. For further details, call Sedona Main Street at 928-204-2390. 

Cliff Castle Casino “Good vs. Evil” Halloween party takes place Oct. 31 at the casino located at 555 Middle Verde Rd. in Camp Verde. Costume contest for ages 21 and older. Kids activities and live music throughout the night. There is no charge to enter costume contest. For more details, call 928-567-7999 or visit www.cliffcastlecasino.net.

1: Hiking West Fork

Hands down, the West Fork Trail is one of Sedona’s most beautiful hikes any time of year but this Oak Creek tributary becomes even more majestic in the fall. The colors in West Fork are at their fiery peak in mid- to late October. Gambel oak trees, cottonwoods, and even the occasional bigtooth maple put on a show of yellows, oranges, and reds (watch for the leaves that are a combination of all three colors, but please “leave” them where they’ve fallen for others to enjoy); in the afternoon, sunlight filters through the leaves and the entire canyon seems bathed in a nearly tangible golden light. Later in the month, the trail is carpeted in fragrant, colorful foliage. Truly, this area rivals Vermont in fall – anyone homesick for the east coast, this spot is for you.

Unfortunately, the beautiful vegetation doesn’t last long and hikers realize this – the trailhead parking lot can fill up early in the morning on weekends in October and parking along the side of Hwy 89A is not advised (and illegal in most places). If you can swing it, pick a day mid-week to experience the beauty without the crowds. If you hike to the beginning of the West Fork narrows (where the trail heads up the creek another 11 miles and requires wading and swimming) and return to your car, you’re looking at a six-mile hike with very little elevation change but you don’t have to go all the way to the end to see the fall foliage – the best colors begin about 1.5 miles in. You’ll notice the area is referred to as the Call of the Canyon – Zane Grey set his novel of that name in this area and the movie of it was filmed here in 1923. Be prepared to cross the creek many times along your journey and keep an eye out for squirrels, garter snakes, and mule deer. Along with the changing leaves, you’ll see soaring red rock canyon walls separated by ribbons of blue sky, wild grapevines, and an incredibly idyllic stream. A note to photographers: Bring a tripod and look for spots where the leaves are reflected in the stream for photos you’ll hang proudly.

To hike West Fork drive north on Hwy 89A up Oak Creek Canyon to the Call of the Canyon/West Fork day use area on your left between mile markers 384 and 385. There are picnic tables and restrooms in the area. Fees are $8 per car (up to five people). Weekly and grand annual Red Rock Passes are accepted in lieu of entrance fee.

MORE THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN SEDONA: Sedona festivals, Secret Sedona, Sedona Bluegrass Festival, four-wheeling, kayaking, hang gliding and skydiving, wine tasting rooms, best pizza in Sedona, Sedona calendar of events, cool summer fun

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