10 Best Things to do in Flagstaff

What is Flagstaff Most Famous For?

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    For those who love exploring the great outdoors, Flagstaff offers a wealth of things to see and do. This northern Arizona city of about 70,000 is the perfect base for discovering dormant volcanoes and ancient villages, hitting the ski slopes, going camping and hiking in the mountains, or gazing in wonder at the night sky at the same observatory where Pluto was first spotted.

    Within the city, there’s a surprisingly vibrant shopping and dining scene to enjoy in its historic downtown area, together with some excellent breweries serving up creative craft beers. Here’s just a sampling of some of the best activities and sights to find in Flagstaff.

    What are the best things to do in Flagstaff?

    1

    Explore the ancient cliff dwellings of Walnut Canyon

    Look to the skies for the canyon’s 121 bird species

    The natural geological formations and scenic forest surrounds of Walnut Canyon are spectacular sights in themselves. But what really captivates visitors to the canyon are the ancient limestone houses still standing today after being built in the cliffs some 900 years ago.

    Take the Island Trail for an up-close look at 25 cliff dwellings or wander the canyon rim trail through the forest to find viewpoints overlooking a panorama of forest, canyon and dwellings. Stop by the visitor’s centre first for more information before setting out and to find out the time for the daily park ranger talks.

    Asukoht: 3 Walnut Canyon Road, Flagstaff, Arizona 86004, USA

    Avatud: Daily from 9am to 5pm

    Telefon: 1 928-526-3367

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    foto: Adam Jones (CC BY-SA 2.0) muudetud

    2

    Ski the slopes of Arizona Snowbowl

    Open year-round with hiking trails to enjoy

    Set in the San Francisco Peaks, the Arizona Snowbowl is a ski resort with a range of tracks to suit beginner to advanced skiers and snowboarders. Lessons are available for all skill levels.

    The resort is open year-round and during the non-winter months, visitors can enjoy exploring the walking trails and taking chairlift rides – an especially scenic journey when the forest canopy changes colour to radiant yellow, orange and red in autumn. More activities in summer include tubing down the mountain slope, bungee trampoline and a mini ropes course. 

    Asukoht: 9300 N Snow Bowl Road, Flagstaff, Arizona 86001, USA

    Telefon: +1 928 779 1951

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    foto: Coconino National Forest (CC0 1.0) muudetud

    3

    See the Grand Falls

    Also known as Chocolate Niagara

    The Grand Falls have only a tiny fraction of visitors compared to the famous Niagara Falls, yet this tiered cascade of muddy water in the Painted Desert is actually taller at 56 metres. The falls are found about 48 kilometres east of Flagstaff in a remote location on Navajo Nation land, so bringing your own food and drink is recommended.

    The best time of year to visit is in March and April when the flow is at its peak from the spring snowmelt. It’s a short hike of about 800 metres down the gully to reach the base of the falls – be sure to wear sturdy footwear to avoid slipping on the rocks and mud.

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    foto: Giuseppe Milo (CC BY 2.0) muudetud

    4

    Discover ancient native pueblos in Wupatki National Monument

    Wondrous red-desert dwellings

    To visit Wupatki National Monument is to imagine taking a bit of an Indiana Jones archaeological adventure, with several fascinating sites of the ancient pueblo (village) ruins spread throughout the desert park.

    The village dwellings in red sandstone date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, when they were built by the Anasazi and Sinagua people. The Hopi people of Flagstaff are believed to have descended from these ancient tribes. The largest site is the Wupatki Pueblo, a big three-storey structure built on a plateau that once housed 300 people and offers views over the Painted Desert and Little Colorado River.

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    foto: Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0) muudetud

    5

    Peer into the cinder cone at Sunset Crater

    Scenic views of ancient volcanos

    Found 24 kilometres northeast of Flagstaff, the colourful cinder-cone landscape of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument was formed in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption some 900 years ago. Walks to Sunset Crater’s rim have not been allowed for decades due to erosion concerns, but there are trails looping around it and you can get a good view over the crater by taking the Forest Service trail to nearby O’Leary Peak. 

    Learn more about the eruption and the area’s ecology at the visitor’s centre or by joining a park ranger-guided tour of the lava flow and volcanic trails offered Friday through Monday.

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    foto: John Menard (CC BY-SA 2.0) muudetud

    6

    Go stargazing at Lowell Observatory

    Late-night telescope viewing available by reservation

    Built in the late 1800s by astronomer Percival Lowell, this is one of the oldest observatories in America. It was here that Pluto was first discovered, and it played an important role in mapping the moon for Apollo astronauts making their historic landing there. 

    For those of us who remain earthbound, Lowell offers plenty of astronomical wonders with its solar telescope offering a good look at the sun, and evening telescope viewings of the planets, moon and star clusters. Guided tours offer insight into the observatory’s past and present research efforts and a stop at the century-old Clark Refracting Telescope. 

    Asukoht: 1400 West Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff, Arizona 86001, USA

    Avatud: Monday–Saturday from 10am to 10pm; Sunday from 10am to 5pm

    Telefon: +1 928 774 3358

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    foto: Packbj (CC BY-SA 4.0) muudetud

    7

    Wander and shop the historic downtown streets

    Art on the streets and good eats

    Flagstaff’s Historic Downtown and Railroad District earned its place in American history as part of the famous Route 66 highway, but now it’s better known as a hive of lively shops, galleries, bars and dining spots. Wander San Francisco and Leroux streets to find beautifully preserved century-old buildings that now house cafes and boutique shops.

    Keep strolling the main streets and sneak down the alleyways to discover colourful murals splashed on the walls, including the huge “Sound of Flight” mural on the side of Orpheum Theater. Check local listings to find out about the festivals, farmer’s markets, monthly art walks and numerous other events held downtown.

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    8

    Check out the mile-long Lava Tube Cave

    Formed from a lava flow 700,000 years ago

    Also known as the Lava River Cave, this majestic natural passageway is part of the San Francisco Volcanic Field 22 kilometres north of Flagstaff. Lava caves are formed when a river of lava hardens on the outside but still flows underneath, eventually forming a long tube. The cave is large enough to walk through under its high, smooth archway.

    Be sure to bring at least two light sources to explore the cave, which is pitch black in some sections. In winter, the road leading to the cave is closed but if you’re keen to visit it’s possible to ski or snowshoe to the cave. 

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    foto: Coconino National Forest (CC0 1.0) muudetud

    9

    Fly through the forest at Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course

    Go for some heart-racing zipline rides

    This family-friendly attraction offers some 30 zip lines and an obstacle course to navigate in a lovely Ponderosa Pine forest setting. The zip lines range in height from 5 to 25 metres, which visitors get to navigate on their own after receiving some training on arrival.

    Get ready to sweat and feel some muscle burn in the obstacle course, where you’ll face several physical challenges of varying difficulty including rope swings, scrambling walls, hanging nets and wobbly bridges. The park also offers a children’s course for kids aged 7 to 11.   

    Asukoht: Fort Tuthill County Park, Flagstaff, Arizona 86005, USA

    Avatud: Daily from 9am to 5pm

    Telefon: +1 888 259 0125

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    foto: Bill Morrow (CC BY 2.0) muudetud

    10

    Go for a refreshing drink at a brew pub

    Discover Flagstaff’s sudsy side

    After a day of outdoor exploration, there’s nothing like a fresh brew to restore the body and mind. Luckily for visitors, Flagstaff has a vibrant craft beer scene with an endless variety of brews to taste.

    Thirsty souls might make their way to the popular Wanderlust Brewing Company to try Belgian and German-inspired beers, or have a taste of the award-winning Tower Station IPA at Mother Road Brewing Company. There’s even a Flagstaff Ale Trail to join, which offers the chance to discover more great brews around the city while collecting stamps on a “passport” that can be turned in at the end for a souvenir pint glass.

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