Top Flagstaff Arizona Attractions – Last week in our post, we gave you our 1 through 4 picks on Top Flagstaff Arizona Attractions in town – its proximity to Route 66, the world-famous museums, the foodie and craft beer cultures.
In this post, find famous Arizona attractions surrounding Flagstaff. Many of the Top Flagstaff Arizona Attractions – both in and around Flagstaff – are free if you have a National Parks pass or are low cost.
Top Flagstaff Arizona Attractions Outside of Town
5. Gateway to Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon South Rim Visitors Center is 1.5 hours from Flagstaff, and a top spot to include when visiting Flagstaff Arizona attractions. The drive to the Grand Canyon takes you through the beautiful scenery of Coconino and Kabib National Forests. Start early, park at the Visitors Center, and hike or take the free buses to the lookout points. You can do most of the lookout points by bus in a single day. Or let someone else do the driving by taking a tour from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon.
6. Top Flagstaff Arizona Attractions – Sunset Crater National Monument
Sunset Crater is 30 minutes from Flagstaff. It’s a cinder cone volcano; its lava flows changed the landscape around 1085 when it erupted. The Sinagua people lived and farmed here and moved out before it erupted. It’s quite an experience to see the lava flows and cinders for miles around, and walk through the site to see the regrowth beginning amongst the lava.
7. Proximity to ancient Native American Ruins
Just 15 minutes from Flagstaff, at 20 miles long, 400 foot deep, at the 60 million year-old Walnut Canyon, find Top Flagstaff Arizona Attractions – ancient cliff dwellings in the limestone rock walls below the canyon rim. View the ancient site while walking through the homelands of the ancient Puebloan people. Imagine their daily life of farming at the canyon rim. See if you can find marine fossils embedded in the limestone.
Set amongst the red-rock in the prairie where food and water seem scarce, Wupatki is just over a half hour from Flagstaff. It is an 800 year-old pueblo structure, in the Painted Desert; it was also occupied by the ancient Puebloan people. Rangers lead guided hikes on this preserved archeological site, or explore on your own. While checking out the pueblo dwellings, gaze across the plains to see if you can spot coyotes, ravens, grey fox, mule deer, bobcat, and more. Or look for imprints of shells and marine life from the Permian and Triassic periods.
8. Easy access from Flagstaff to the Native American Reservations on the Hopi and Navajo Reservations.
Travel 20 minutes through the Painted Desert from Wupatki to the Native American Cameron Trading Post selling authentic Native American jewelry and crafts. It’s probably the most extensive assortment of goods in one place in Arizona. Know that there are non-native souvenirs also, so ask about authenticity. They will be honest.
From Cameron head towards Tuba City (30 minutes), and stop along the way to see the dinosaur tracks and skull on Navajo land. Watch the scenery as you drive to see the gorgeous Painted Desert. Then watch for a hand-painted sign pointing to the dinosaur tracks. Navajos will likely offer to show you around. Take them up on it since they know where to find the tracks and skull. Ask questions about the tracks. It is special to see where the dinosaurs roamed. There’s no charge, but have a tip ready.
After the dinosaur tracks continue to Tuba City to check out the Navajo Interactive Museum and the Navajo Code Talkers.
If you have time continue to the Hopi Reservation Second Mesa and take a tour. The Hopi Mesa is 1-hour from Tuba City and 1.75-hours from Flagstaff. We toured with Left Handed Hunter – Gary Tso, a Hopi, who is recommended by New York Times and others. Gary will share the culture, spiritual beliefs, Hopi way of life, ancient history; you’ll see ancient artifacts, petroglyphs, today’s Hopi artists working in their studios and more. We took the 4-hour tour and were out with Gary for 6 hours. It was quite an enriching experience.
9. Top Flagstaff Arizona Attractions – Winter and Summer Sports
Outdoor activities abound near Flagstaff – Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and hiking are a great way to enjoy the peaceful and beautiful outdoor landscapes around Flagstaff. Skiing at Arizona Snow Bowl in the San Francisco Mountains is just 14 miles north of Flagstaff. The Flagstaff area offers many hiking opportunities and mountain biking when the weather warms. Explore Mormon Lake and Lake Mary and go kayaking, fishing, paddle-boarding, or kite-boarding, which are just a short drive from Flagstaff. Look up to see hang-gliders and para-gliders soaring above Mount Elden.
Everyone has heard of the famed Sedona Arizona with its breathtaking scenery of Red Rocks. Sedona is 45 minutes from Flagstaff, and while many people like to stay in Sedona, it can be quite crowded and expensive. Still, it is worth a visit to see Cathedral Rock, the red rocks, hike, take a hot air balloon ride or scenic helicopter tour to view the exquisite scenery from the air. We got close to the rocks by hiking, a regular sport in Sedona. Know that paying to park almost everywhere in Sedona is required, even for hiking. We had to drive around for 1 hour before finding a parking space at a particular hiking trailhead. It’s a busy town.
Walk around town, visit the galleries and shops. It’s difficult to drive around due to the traffic, so I suggest parking and walk the main street; then move your car to Tlaquepaque to check out the Arts & Crafts Village – parking is free here. While expensive, the stores of Sedona are a great place to see all the different types of items offered throughout Arizona.
Don’t misunderstand – I loved Sedona. It is a must-see. I think one long day is enough, maybe 2. If you prefer fewer crowds and more reasonably priced places, stay in Flagstaff.
11. Petrified Forest National Park
Take a day trip and an easy drive to the Petrified Forest National Park located in the Painted Desert. Pass through Winslow Arizona, 1-hour from Flagstaff and find the famous corner that the Eagles sang about in Take it Easy – “sittin’ on the corner in Winslow Arizona.” Head east for 30 minutes to Holbrook, AZ, the county seat of Eastern Arizona’s Navajo country. And drive just a short distance to visit the Petrified Forest. Take a walk or hike to get up close to all of the gorgeous petrified wood lying around the Painted Desert. What an interesting landscape!
Top Flagstaff Arizona Attractions Conclusion
We spent 3 nights out of 11 nights based in Flagstaff visiting Top Flagstaff Arizona Attractions. Since we have an RV, the balance of our Flagstaff area touring was spent staying in our RV at some of these places. Nevertheless, Flagstaff is a terrific base with reasonably priced accommodations.
Flagstaff is the perfect spot from which to explore Arizona. You’ll find every type of food fare from with freshly prepared food, and coffee and pastry shops, breweries and pubs, plus lots of accommodation choices, and tours leaving from Flagstaff. There is also much to choose from if you are looking for nightlife. Check out the Visitor Center Website to learn more, find travel and meal deals.