Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona has long been a popular Southwest travel destination, and for much of the twentieth century, this had a lot to do with the city's location along Route 66. It also had, and still has, a lot to do with the relative proximity of the Grand Canyon. While the allure of Route 66 in Flagstaff has partly worn off over time as parts of the road were replaced by other roadways, travelers continue to flock to this city of around 130,000 people, and it's not hard to understand why. The drive to Grand Canyon Village from Flagstaff Arizona only takes about an hour and a half, and there are plenty of other enticing side trip possibilities that will also prove tempting. When visitors aren't out exploring the region, they can take advantage of the great attractions that are found back in town.

The city of Flagstaff Arizona sits at an elevation of around 7,000 feet above sea level, and is located where Interstates 40 and 17 meet. Due north of the city, the San Francisco Peaks rise even higher into the sky, presenting a picturesque backdrop, not to mention a wealth of recreational opportunities, and further north, the wonders of the Grand Canyon area unfold. Encroaching on the city's eastern side is the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest in the continental 48 states, and heading east from town along I-40, the dazzling natural attractions that are Meteor Crater and the Petrified Forest National Park are easy to access. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the city of Sedona and its stunning red rock setting is only about an hour's drive from Flagstaff.

Flagstaff travel can be enjoyed year round, thanks to the city's enviable weather, and for those who are interested in outdoor recreation, the nearby San Francisco Peaks offer plenty of options. This mountain chain is home to the tallest mountains in Arizona, including the 12,633-foot-tall Humphreys Peak, which is the highest point in the land. During the winter months, skiing and snowboarding figure among the top things to do in Flagstaff, with the slopes at the Arizona Snowbowl ski area often full of skiers and snowboarders when there is enough snow. This is high desert terrain, so the snow conditions can be very unpredictable.

As the snow starts to melt on the ski slopes in the spring, hiking and mountain biking take over as top Flagstaff travel pursuits, at least in terms of outdoor activities. Late September is one of the best times to hike and bike in the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff Arizona, as this is when the many Aspen trees turn a dazzling golden color. Regardless of when you choose to explore the mountains near Flagstaff Arizona, the natural views will be amazing. From the higher vantage points, it is possible to see all the way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon! Some of the best views can be enjoyed from the top of Humphreys Peak, though you'll have to navigate the challenging Humphreys Peak Trail if you want to savor them.

Flagstaff travel offers numerous delights, and closer to town, visitors won't have trouble keeping busy. Among the Flagstaff attractions are a charming and historic Downtown District, the excellent Museum of Northern Arizona, and the renowned Lowell Observatory. Some of the Route 66 charm remains in Flagstaff, and the city's historic Downtown District features a stretch of this historic road. The Downtown District in Flagstaff Arizona also has some enticing shops, many of which sell Native American handicrafts and Route 66 souvenirs. As for the Museum of Northern Arizona, it offers fantastic insight into the complete history of the Colorado Plateau area, while the Lowell Observatory is the place to go if you want to learn about the cosmos. While a Lowell Observatory visit can be rewarding during the day, nighttime is when this attraction is arguably at its best. On clear nights, visitors can observe planets and stars galore through the observatory's telescopes.

These are just some ideas for things to do in Flagstaff, and anyone who is planning a visit is encouraged to also keep the city's events in mind. The Flagstaff events include a free music festival in mid-June, a curious New Year's Eve celebration that features the dropping of a large pine cone at midnight, and a Route 66 celebration in September that sees the city's streets filled with classic cars. Other events worth keeping in mind, especially for music enthusiasts, are the concerts that are held at the Orpheum Theater on Aspen Street and the free concerts that are held at the Pine Mountain Amphitheater in the warmer season.

Whether you are simply passing through Flagstaff on a road trip or you are planning on sticking around for a while, finding a good place to stay shouldn't be hard. The Flagstaff hotels are relatively plentiful, and there are also places to camp in the area for those who are interested. Thanks to the fact that there are lots of fun things to do in Flagstaff, sticking around for at least a couple of days is seriously worth considering. Checking out nearby national monuments and visiting the historic town of Jerome Arizona on the side are just two more options for things to do on a Flagstaff escape, and there are many more ways to stay busy. In fact, a couple weeks might just be necessary if you want to take it all in.

Image: searchnetmedia (Flickr)

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