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
After the Sinagua people left Sunset Crater, they relocated to Walnut Canyon to the south, and Wupatki National Monument area where the ash and cinders nourished the soil for their crops.
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.
thanks so much for this stimulating, informative post and for pointing out how many wonderful landmarks there are to visit within the relatively small geographic area surrounding Flagstaff!
It’s amazing to see all of the diverse sites, in and around Flagstaff Arizona.
So many iconic Southwest places to visit near Flagstaff. I remember the petrified forest and the Canyon Rim but would so love to tour a mesa and see more of the Sedona area.
Oh yes, they were a great part of the trip, and so was Wupatki, Sunset Crater, and Walnut Canyon.
We are so glad to see Part 2 of your top Flagstaff attractions. We are considering this region for a visit in 2019. so tour articles are quite helpful. Thanks again.
It’s an amazing area – so much to see and do! We loved it! I hope you do too.
When we drove from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to Sedona, Flagstaff was a nice discovery and the road from Flagstaff to Sedona was beautiful. Most people (us, anyway) don’t realize that Flagstaff is at elevation. If it’s really hot in Sedona, it’s likely to be more comfortable in Flagstaff. Conversely, during the winter, roads in and around Flagstaff might be more treacherous.
We were there in the winter and there was no snow. Roads were dry. It depends, and it changes. Winter is not the busiest tourist time for these areas either.
Wendy, Flagstaff is indeed one great base! This second list is even more impressive than the first!
Have you visited? It isn’t that far from your Mesa home base.
Although I’ve not yet made it to Flagstaff in all the time I’ve spent in Arizona, I have seen three of these: Sunset Crater, Petrified Forest and Sedona. There is much to see in Arizona!
I know people often miss Flagstaff. We would have too. If you are a foodie or like craft beer – it’s a great place to go. If haven’t been to the Museum of North Arizona, Lowell Observatory, and Wupatki – there’s more reasons to go to Flagstaff.
There are a number of places on this list that I really want to see, like Sedona, the Petrified Forest and, of course, the Grand Canyon. But I wouldn’t have thought of Flagstaff as the base for visiting these places. (I mostly know it from the Route 66 song). Great idea!
When you go, don’t miss Museum of North Arizona, Lowell Observatory, Wupatki, Walnut Canyon and Sunset Crater – all either in or close to Flagstaff.
I still can’t believe l never made it to the Grand Canyon 🙂 . Flagstaff definitely has a lot going for it. I would love to see dinosaur tracks. Sedona is also a place l would like to see because l have heard so much about it. Thanks for sharing.
You have made a wonderful case for travellers to visit Flagstaff, Wendy. Thx for the great post.
We love Arizona and have been in Flagstaff many times. We always stop there for one night, on the way to other attractions. However, I never liked this town and and don’t think I’d spend more than just one night there. The rest of the places on your list are lovely though.
I find spending 1 night as a stop off point when going elsewhere doesn’t give the real sense of a place. What is best in Flagstaff is the great museums, Lowell Observatory, the restaurants and breweries. It is close to many attractions where there are not the amenities like those in Flagstaff.
I agree, Flagstaff is a great base and quite affordable to stay in. I’ve been to many of these places just exactly for these reasons of staying and see these wonderfyul attractions
I had never heard of Flaggstaff but it is full of really cool tourist attractions and monuments/parks what an interesting area to explore
Most people either haven’t heard of it or just pass over or through it. We are glad that we went.
Wow so many nice things to see in Arizona! When I hear Arizona, all that comes to my mind is big rock formations, because I haven’t actually been here, only reading posts and articles like yours! It’s nice to be informed of places! I’d personally like to see Sedona Arizona, truly is a form of Beauty! And I won’t miss some good coffee and pastry shops at the end!
Simply stunned by the wonderful landmarks there are to visit within the small geographic area surrounding Flagstaff! Arizona is high in my list if I have the luck to visit the region. I will plan to keep good number of days to do all of these.
It would be unreal to actually be part of these amazing natural landscapes, when we go. The National Parks of USA are fascinating. Top of my list for the continent.
Wow Flagstaff Arizona looks a great place to stay and explore the surrounding areas! Definitely Grand Canyon visit/hike is a must and add Sedona for more hiking days!
It’s a great area! And we loved the Museums in Flag, and Indian reservations in the outskirts.
That is quite an informative post. You have done a great job by compiling up all amazing attractions around Flagstaff. Arizona is high on our list and hopefully we will make a plan soon keeping these places in mind.
Arizona has plenty of places that I would want to visit. For one the Grand canyon and even better the Indian ruins. The latter is what fascinates me the most. Add to that the Petrified forests. The landscape looks lovely in that. Guess this is the state that has climbed to the top of my list.
Yes, both the Indian ruins and the active Indian Pueblos are very interesting!
Pingback: Explore the Best of the Apache Trail in Eastern ArizonaAdventurous Retirement