Flagstaff

For other places with the same name, see Flagstaff (disambiguation).
San Francisco Peaks seen from Mt. Elden

Flagstaff is a city of over 67,000 people near the San Francisco Peaks mountain range of northern Arizona and the Grand Canyon. Situated at an altitude of 6990 feet, Flagstaff and much of the surrounding region are substantially cooler than the low desert that dominates the southern part of the state. Though still dry by east coast standards, enough rain and snow falls in the area to allow a forest of ponderosa pine trees to cover the landscape. Winters tend to be cold, and heavy snowfall is expected on an annual basis.

Understand

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°F) 43 45 50 58 67 77 81 79 73 63 52 43
Nightly lows (°F) 11 14 20 25 30 36 46 46 37 27 18 11
Precipitation (in) 2.1 2.3 2.3 1.3 0.6 0.4 2.4 3.5 2.6 1.9 1.8 2.0

   Data from NOAA (1981-2010)

Get in

By car

Flagstaff is at the intersection of Interstate 40, which runs west to California and east to New Mexico (following historic Route 66) and Interstate 17, which runs south to Phoenix.

By train and bus

By plane

  Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (IATA: FLG) has regular scheduled commercial airline service. American Airlines provides service to Phoenix. There are also several air charter carriers.

The nearest major airport is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (IATA: PHX). Driving time between Flagstaff and Sky Harbor is greater than the 150-mile separation would suggest; the airport is on the opposite side of Phoenix from Flagstaff, and traffic jams in Phoenix are a problem. Allow two and a half hours or more to get from one to the other by car.

Get around

Flagstaff is stretched out along historic Route 66, which runs roughly east-west. The fairly small (about 5 blocks square) downtown is on the western side of town, near the base of Mars Hill, the location of Lowell Observatory. Both I-40 and the BNSF railroad tracks run roughly parallel to Route 66. Northern Arizona University is located south of downtown and the tracks, but north of I-40. Here the north-south oriented Milton Road, which becomes I-17, is the main thoroughfare, with Route 66 heading west north of the railroad underpass.

The city is fairly bike-friendly, with many roads having bike lanes. In 2006 the Flagstaff was designated a "Bicycle-Friendly Community" by the League of American Bicyclists. The Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS) includes more than 50 miles of paved and unpaved trails that wind throughout the town and are used extensively for recreation and transportation. One well-traveled FUTS path runs along the south side of Route 66 from downtown to the east side of town.

The Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority operates The Mountain Line, fixed-route bus service that extends throughout Flagstaff and carries more than one million passengers per year.

See

Flagstaff's historic downtown
Lowell Observatory
Riordan Mansion State Park
Elden Pueblo Historic Site

Do

Inner Basin Trail in the San Francisco Peaks

Outdoors

The area surrounding Flagstaff is a hotspot for outdoor activities. Many of the bicycle and outdoor sports stores in downtown Flagstaff carry Favorite Hikes: Flagstaff and Sedona and Mountain Biking Arizona Guide: Fat Tire Tales and Trails, two excellent guidebooks written by local Flagstaff mountain bike enthusiast Cosmic Ray. Mountain bikes can be rented from Absolute Bikes (202 E Hwy 66, tel. 928-779-5969).

Festivals and events

Pickin' in the Pines Bluegrass & Acoustic Music Festival

Buy

Eat

Chinese

Thai

Pizza

Mexican

American/Southwest

Grand Canyon Cafe
Macy's European Coffeehouse and Bakery

Grocery stores

Drink

For beer fans, Flagstaff boasts two brewpubs and one microbrewery.

Sleep

Because of its proximity to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff has a wide array of hotels and other lodging, with over 5,000 rooms available. Cheap rooms are available at older non-chain motels, but you get what you pay for, and prices may not be that much cheaper than discount chains. Be sure to shop around and bargain as proprietors are often willing to drop prices during the off-season.

Many motels of the older variety are located along Route 66 east of downtown. More older hotels and most newer motels are located south of downtown along Milton Road. There are a few historic hotels downtown, as well as two hostels. Various B&B establishments can be found near downtown in older neighborhoods. Campgrounds and RV parks can be found on the outskirts of town. Note that the BNSF rail line is very busy and in many hotels train horn noise is prominent (though not overwhelming as no facility is directly on the tracks). Sensitive sleepers should look to the Milton Road area for more quiet. Visible from the I-40 freeway off the Butler Ave. exit on Lucky Lane is a large selection of national chain economy class hotels including Econo Lodge, Motel 6, Quality Inn, Super 8 and Howard Johnson.

Budget

The historic Weatherford Hotel
The Zane Grey Ballroom in the Weatherford Hotel

Mid-range

Splurge

Camping

Locket Meadow in the San Francisco Peaks
Kendrick Cabin

Dispersed camping (free) is permitted almost anywhere in the Coconino National Forest, which abuts town in many places (i.e. Thorpe Park, Mt Elden). Specific sites set aside for dispersed camping include Cinder Hills, Freidlein Prairie, and Marshall Lake (free, no water or facilities). Some of the choicest camp sites are on the San Francisco peaks and inner basin where a breathtaking aspen color changes happen every fall.

Stay safe

Flagstaff really does receive a lot of snow

Although Flagstaff is well within the southern half of U.S., it receives more snowfall than just about any other American city. Always come prepared in wintertime.

There is not a huge crime problem, but certain areas noted below should be avoided, mainly at night.

Sunnyside, one of Flagstaff's larger neighborhoods, is on the east side of town (bordered by Cedar Ave. on the north, 4th St. on the east, Izabel St. and Cedar Hill on the west and Route 66 on the south). Sunnyside is an incredibly diverse and interesting neighborhood but is also one of the most poverty stricken neighborhoods in the city. Most points of interest are restaurants located on the edge of the neighborhood in the business districts which are generally safe any time of day. The area has been inflicted with some gang activity, mostly in the very center of the neighborhood. Just don't walk the neighborhood at night or hang out in an area that seems unsafe.

The other area that becomes unsafe at night is some areas of what locals call the "South Side". South of the railroad tracks, west of Lone Tree Road, east of Milton and north of the NAU campus is the general designation of this area. The exception being most of the areas along South Beaver St. and South San Francisco St., which are safe even at night because the night-time music, restaurant and bar scene that takes place along these streets. Areas closer to campus and on side streets such as South O'Leary and South Fontaine should be avoided at night. Though a lot of college students inhabit the area, drug addicts and transients do also, along with some gang activity.

Connect

Cope

Go next

Wupatki National Monument

An unusual number of United States National Parks are close to Flagstaff, the largest and most famous of which is the Grand Canyon, but there are three right nearby. Note that there is a $25 Flagstaff Area National Monuments Annual Pass which works for all three monuments, and covers entrance fees for up to four people—this may be cheaper for groups visiting multiple sites.

The Grand Canyon is just a short drive further, as is Navajo Country. Alternatively, head north to see Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. The detour through Sedona on the way South to Phoenix offers a scenic route west of the freeway.

Routes through Flagstaff

Los Angeles Williams  W  E  Winslow Albuquerque
END  N  S  Camp Verde Phoenix
Kingman Williams  W  E  Winslow Gallup
Page Cameron  N  S  END
Grand Canyon Tusayan  N  E  Winslow Holbrook
END  N  S  Sedona Prescott
Kingman Williams  W  E  Winslow Gallup


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, January 17, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.