THINGS TO DO IN FLAGSTAFF
Flagstaff is conveniently located close to many of Northern Arizona’s natural attractions, including Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona and the Painted Desert. Flagstaff also has a wealth of cultural attractions like the Museum of Northern Arizona, art galleries and historic sites. This combination makes it a vacation destination for thousands of tourists every year.
Route 66 – Route 66 leads travelers directly through old town Flagstaff and past many of its attractions. The “Mother Road” was made famous by Bobby Troup’s song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.”
Historic Downtown – The heart of Flagstaff, this grid features fine dining, shopping and cultural attractions. If you happen to visit during the first week of the month, observe and purchase beautiful local artwork during the ‘First Friday Artwalk’ or catch an outdoor movie and music at Heritage Square. Many of the historic buildings are marked with plaques commemorating their historical significance. Tours of historic downtown are available through the Visitor Center or Pioneer Museum.
Grand Canyon National Park- GCNP is only 80 miles outside the city by car or shuttle. Take the scenic route on US-180 to AZ-64, or on US-89 to AZ-64. The Grand Canyon Railway offers train service and tours via Williams. Bus tours and other tour companies provide transportation services to GCNP as well.
The park, which covers 1,217,262 acres of unincorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties, received nearly six million recreational visitors in 2016, which is the second highest count of all U.S. national parks after Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Arizona Snowbowl – Arizona Snowbowl is one of the premier ski areas in the southwestern US. The resort consists of 55 runs on 777 skiable acres and has a total vertical of 2,800 feet. With an average of 280 inches of snowfall, Snowbowl is a wonderful place for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. During the non winter months you can still enjoy Arizona Snowbowl by hopping on the Scenic Skyride to the top of the ski area and taking in the beautiful views from 11,500 feet. Flagstaff, Sedona and the Grand Canyon are all visible from the summer ride.
Museum of Northern Arizona – The Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) is a private, non-profit, member-based institution. The Museum was founded in 1928 by Harold S. Colton and Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton and was originally established to protect and preserve the natural and cultural heritage of Northern Arizona through research, collections, conservation and education. MNA’s mission is to inspire a sense of love and responsibility for the beauty and diversity of the Colorado Plateau through collecting, studying, interpreting, and preserving the region’s natural and cultural heritage.
The Museum has evolved into a regional center of learning. With collections, exhibits, educational programs, publications, and research projects, the Museum of Northern Arizona plays a vital role as interpreter of the Colorado Plateau.
Lowell Observatory – Established in 1894 by Percival Lowell, Lowell Observatory’s mission is to pursue the study of astronomy, especially the study of our solar system and its evolution; to conduct pure research in astronomical phenomena; and to maintain quality public education and outreach programs to bring the results of astronomical research to the general public.
In 1960, Lowell established a dark-sky research site at Anderson Mesa, 10 miles southeast of Flagstaff. Today, the Observatory consists of 180 acres on the Coconino National Forest and is home to several telescopes and the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer.
The 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) was completed in 2012. This new facility, in full science operations as of 2015, vastly expands Lowell’s research capabilities and those of its institutional partners. As of 2015, well over a million people have passed through the Observatory’s doors. Some 80,000 visitors each year enjoy tours, telescope viewing, exhibits, multimedia shows and more.
The Arboretum at Flagstaff – Founded in 1981 by Frances McAllister, The Arboretum at Flagstaff is a private nonprofit organization under the official name “The Transition Zone Horticultural Institute.” While the primary focus was research, it has become known as a destination for local and out-of-town visitors who want to learn more about the native plants and animals found in Northern Arizona and as a wonderful venue for a wide variety of events and educational programs.
The Arboretum specializes in plants native to the Colorado Plateau . It is home to 750 species of plants housed in greenhouses, gardens, and natural habitats located on 200 acres. It was once the home of founder and philanthropist Frances McAllister.
Open from April to October.
Native American Reservations – Flagstaff borders both Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation. A drive through the territories reveals traditional Navajo homes, called hogans, as well as traditional Hopi artisans. For information visit the Navajo Nation Tourism Department and the Hopi Cultural Center.
Walnut Canyon National Monument – Located eight miles east of Flagstaff, Walnut Canyon is the ancient home of the Sinagua Indians. Established as a National Monument in 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson, this area consists of 3,600 acres preserving artifacts and dwellings. Learn about the people and their lifestyle by walking through the informative visitor center before descending the 240 steps to well preserved ancient cliff dwellings.
Elden Pueblo – Inhabited from about A.D. 1070 to 1275 by the Sinagua (Sin ah’ wa) tribe, Elden Pueblo is unique for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, it makes archaeology and the study of ancient peoples accessible to the public. Since 1978, professional archaeologists have supervised members of the public in excavations, archaeological research techniques and artifact analysis through a variety of public and school programs.
Conveniently located on US-89, Elden Pueblo is thought to have been part of a major trading system. This is evidenced by discoveries of trade items, such as macaw skeletons from as far south as Mexico, to shell jewelry from the California Coast. Important discoveries recently uncovered at Elden Pueblo suggest that the Sunset Crater volcano may have erupted over a much longer period of time than previously thought.
Sunset Crater/Wupatki National Monuments – Sunset Crater is part of the San Francisco Peaks volcanic field. It is the youngest, best preserved and one of the longest-lived cinder cone volcanoes. It features a 36-mile loop through changing scenery into the Wupatki ruins. The areas around the ruins is still being studied in efforts to discover other historical sites and information.
Meteor Crater – The result of a violent meteor impact about 59,000 years ago, Meteor Crater is located 40 miles east of Flagstaff on I-40. At 550 feet deep, Meteor Crater is considered the world’s best preserved meteor crater site. It features an interactive discovery center and Astronaut Memorial Park.
Wildlife – Several animal attractions just outside of Flagstaff receive many visitors per year. Bearizona Wildlife Park in Williams has black bears, bison, sheep, goats and wolves. The Grand Canyon Deer Farm allows visitors to walk among and directly feed the deer.