Flagstaff Stories and Tips

Flagstaff Overview

Lowell Observatory Photo, Flagstaff, Arizona

At an elevation of almost 7,000 feet, Flagstaff is among the highest cities in the U.S.

Located along former wagon road to California, Flagstaff (called "Flag" by the locals) is surrounded by famous ponderosa forests and sits at the foot of Arizona's highest mountain, 12,634-foot /3,851m Humphrey's Peak.

An outdoor lovers’ paradise, Flagstaff offers activities from skiing down the San Francisco Peaks to gazing at the stars at the Lowell Observatory. This town used to promote itself as "The City of Seven Wonders" — a reference to the Grand Canyon and other nearby Northern Arizona attractions. Problem is that not one of the wonders was actually in Flagstaff. Nowadays, the official slogan is less grandiose: "They don't make towns like this anymore." Nevertheless, seven national parks and monuments are located with a 100-mile radius of Flagstaff, including Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater, Wupatki, Walnut Canyon, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, and Montezuma Castle. Some of the West’s most beautiful country surrounds Flagstaff, from the alpine forests of San Francisco Peaks to the rugged deserts of Colorado Plateau.

Today’s Flagstaff is an amazing place, combining a modern sense of discovery (Lowell Observatory, Northern Arizona University) with a strong Western legacy echoing the days of railroad builders , lumbermen, and pioneer ranchers (Route 66 days, Riordan Mansion, Museum of Northern Arizona, and Pioneer Historical Museum). Visitors from all over the world are attracted to city’s clean mountain air, year-round recreation (Arizona Snowbowl, the Arboretum), scenic forest paths, lively entertainment scene, and 1890s charm.

Do not miss Heritage Square, a brick plaza in downtown with architectural details that represent local history and geology, such as a wooden flagpole with a base made of Grand Canyon rocks. Free movies are projected at the square on Friday nights during the summer. The shops, galleries and restaurants around it provide a very pleasant environment for strolling, shopping or just sitting with a cup of coffee. First Friday of each month tourists and residents alike enjoy "Art Walk" as the galleries stay open late for visitors.

City has a distinct four-season climate. The Monsoon season of July and August bring fantastic lightning and thunderstorms almost daily along with plenty of rain (we caught some during the Labor Day weekend). You'll experience the beautiful blooming of spring and the gorgeous changing of the leaves in the fall.

This small city is the home of the U.S. Naval Observatory's Flagstaff Station, Northern Arizona University's Atmospheric Research Observatory, the National Undergraduate Research Observatory, and Arizona State University's Braeside Observatory. It is also a dark-sky refuge for hundreds of amateur astronomers; the world's first designated International Dark Sky City. In October and November they held the Celebration of the Night, a five-week series of dark skies events. The city's battle with light pollution is on going in order to preserve prime conditions for the work being conducted at Lowell Observatory.
Smithsonian CultureFest came to town in 2006 to help celebrate the beauty and science of the night sky as one of the " true cultural treasures of Arizona".

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