Beat the Heat in Flagstaff
Posted by Mike Huber
at August 24th
Summertime temperatures often force people indoors, and when you’ve had enough of the heat, head to Flagstaff. You’ll find all kinds of things to do from backwoods camping to golfing and posh resorts. This mountain city is easy to get to from I-17 or I-40, or you can fly directly.
While Flagstaff is a summertime playground for people who like the outdoors, you’ll also find plenty of other things to do. It’s a university town, the home of Northern Arizona University, which gives the city a youthful appeal. The shopping is diverse, especially for outdoor gear, and restaurants abound. You’ll find a range of lodging, from economy rooms to luxurious suites at resorts. Check out the places of interest below and for more information on Arizona you can download the Arizona Guide.
Places of Interest
- The Museum of Northern Arizona provides comprehensive exhibits of Native American culture, focusing on southwestern culture. It hosts events throughout the summer that are educational, colorful and entertaining. It’s located in north Flagstaff and surrounded by pine trees and lies next to a canyon.
- If the 30 degree difference between hot desert temperatures and Flagstaff’s cooler air at 7,000 feet isn’t enough, venture up to the San Francisco Peaks. This range boasts the highest elevation in Arizona, with Humphreys’ Peak coming in at 12,633 feet above sea level. You can ride the ski lifts in the summer to take in the view of the surrounding forests. There’s also a lodge, campgrounds and numerous hiking trails.
- The Riordan Mansion lies inside Flagstaff and is a walk through Flagstaff’s early history. The Riodans were one of the earliest families in northern Arizona and achieved vast success with a logging business.
- The Monte Vista Hotel is steeped with the history of the region. It was built by residents who wanted a luxury hotel in the area. Besides offering lodging, it now houses boutique stores and some claim is home to poltergeists.
- Check out Wutpatki National Monument, located northeast of Flagstaff. Its remains display one of the largest and powerful pueblos of the southwest.
- Walnut Canyon National Monument is seven miles east of the city on I-40 and is well worth exploring. Arizona walnut trees populate the bottom of the canyon and you can view the cliff dwellings inside the canyon. Hike the Island or Rim trails to take in the lush riparian habitat of canyons in Arizona’s higher elevations.
- Visit Lake Mary, where you can boat, fish or swim. During dry periods, upper Lake Mary is more likely to have water than the lower portion. Lake Mary is a reservoir that captures water from Walnut Creek.
- The Lowell Observatory likes just west of downtown and gives you a chance to view the night skies if you’ve made reservations ahead of time.
- People visiting the Grand Canyon from the south or east go through Flagstaff and often rest the night in this city before or after hiking the canyon or touring it.
- Sunset Crater was formed through volcanic eruptions. It’s south of town off the I-17 and is a must-see for geology and space buffs. The best way to see it is to drop by the visitor’s center and then make the easy, one-mile hike around it on Lava Flow Trail.
From mid-June to late September, expect afternoon thunderstorms. These can bring heavy rain, lightening and thunder. Before the summer monsoon begins, be extra careful when you’re outdoors. Spring, early summer and fall are dry seasons and forest fires are devastating to the environment.
Traffic in town can be heavy over 3-day weekends and during the peak of the summer, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for your Flagstaff lodging reservations if you plan to stay overnight, even for camping.