About Flagstaff, Arizona
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation 6,910 ft (2.106 m). Population 65,870 (2010).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) no DST⁄ PDT (UTC-7).
Flagstaff is a city in northwestern Arizona, it is the county seat of Coconino County. See a Map of Flagstaff.
View of the Monte Vista Hotel in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona, Route 66
The nortern - central area of Arizona has been inhabited for over ten thousand years. During more recent periods, the region of the San Francisco Mountains has been the home of the "Sinagua" people. They were hunter gatherers who also grew crops of squash, beans and corn. They lived between the Verde Valley, Mogollon Rim and Sedona to the south and Wupatki, Sunset Crater and the Little Colorado River to the north.
The name "Sinagua" combines the Spanish words "sin" (without) and "agua" (water), because this area lacks permanent rivers.
The Sinagua culture peaked between 500 and 1220 AD after which a severe drought forced them to migrate into New Mexico with the Anasazi people. By 1400 AD they had all gone. Their abandoned pueblos can be seen at Ruins of Elden Pueblo and Wupatki National Monument.
Further east lived two other groups, the Navajo (or Diné) people and the Hopi who descend from the Anasazi people, and like them are farmers.
The Spanish explored the area in 1541, discovering the Grand Canyon, but they never occupied what would later become Arizona. They settled furhter east in New Mexico.
After Mexico's independence from Spain in 1821 it took possession of the territory but lost it after the 1846-1848 war with the US.
In 1857, Lt. Edward Fitzgerald "Ned" Beale (1822 - 1893) surveyed a wagon road from Ft. Smith Arkansas to California and passed through Flagstaff. His men cut a straight pine tree to fly the United States flag at their camp in Flagstaff.
Beale used camels, imported from Africa as pack animals. Although they were hardier than mules the Army declined to use them in the future because the camels scared both horses and mules.
During the American Civil War, the Unionist government created the Territory of Arizona (1863) separating it from New Mexico. By the mid 1870s settlers began arriving. One of them, Thomas F. McMillan (or McMillon) moved to the area in 1876 and established his sheep ranch just north of the present city of Flagstaff (his home is the oldest home in Flagstaff and is part of the Museum of Northern Arizona, listed Listed in the National Register of Historic Places).
The name: Flagstaff
At the ranch of pioneer and father of Flagstaff, Thomas F. McMillan, the Second Boston Party raised the flag that gave the town its name on July 4, 1876, centennial of the American Independence.
The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, later Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (AT&SF) laid their tracks through Flagstaff in 1883 and linked up with the California railroad at Needles, CA., creating a transcontinental link and plenty of traffic through the region.
The first railway station was located at the base of Mars hill at Old Town Spring (water was plentiful for the steam engines), but the sloping ground was not suitable for building a townsite, so the station was moved further east, beyond the Rio de Flag, to its current location.
The Apaches living south of Flagstaff finally surrendered to Generals Miles and Crook in 1886, pacifying the region.
Coconino County was formed in 1891 and the town was chosen as its county seat. The University of Northern Arizona opened its doors in 1899.
Flagstaff's economy was based on lumbering and cattle. The tourism industry began early as stage coaches departed from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon and did so until the railway line from Williams to the Grand Canyon was built in 1908.
In the early 1900s, a shorter road between Winslow and Flagstaff became necessary, and the National Old Trails highway association surveyed one through Winslow. Route 66 was aligned along the National Old Trails in 1926 and traffic began flowing through Flagstaff.
Where to Stay
There is lodging on Route 66 in Flagstaff:
>> Book your Hotels in Flagstaff
Lodging Near Flagstaff along Route 66
Heading East.... In Arizona
- 27 miles. Motels and Hotels in Twin Arrows
- 60 miles. Motels and Hotels in Winslow
- 93 miles. Motels and Hotels in Holbrook
- 137 miles. Motels and Hotels in Chambers
East... In New Mexico
- 189 miles. Gallup
- 12 miles. Motels and Hotels in Bellemont
- 33 miles. Motels and Hotels in Williams
- 50 miles. Motels and Hotels in Ash Fork
- 76 miles. Motels and Hotels in Seligman
- 111 miles. Motels and Hotels in Peach Springs
- 147 miles. Motels and Hotels in Kingman
Near Route 66...
>> There is a RV campground in Flagstaff
Weather in Flagstaff
The climate in Flagstaff is dry and semi-continental. Seasons are clearly marked, with cold winters with abundant snow and a dry windy spring. Summer is hot and dry until July, when the humid summer monsoon period begins. Fall is dry and pleasant.
Flagstaff is one of the snowiest incorporated cities in the US
The average high temperature in summer (July) is 81.2°F (27.3°C). The winter (Jan) average high is 42.5°F (5.8°C). The record high is 96°F (36°C) in July. The average low in summer is 50.9°F (10.5°C) and in winter it is 17.3°F, well below freezing (-8.2°C). Record low is -30°F (-34°C) in January.
Rainfall is scarce and averages 21.86 in per year (555 mm); around 8 in. (200 mm) fall during the Summer Monsoon period between July and Oct, and another 8 inches between December and March.
Yearly 101.7 inches of snow fall in the area (258.3 cm), between late Sept. and early May you may encounter snow.
There are 88 days a year with precipitation, 35 with snow and the relative humidity fluctuates from 34% to 62% (June and January).
All the area that is located to the west of Rocky Mountains hardly has any tornados.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Flagstaff
You can reach it very easily along Interstate 40 or Old Route 66 heading east from Flagstaff, and along I-40 west from Winslow.
Map of Route 66 through Flagstaff
Static Map showing Route 66 alignment through Flagstaff, AZ - CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE
Color Key to the Map of Route 66 in Flagstaff.
Pale Blue: East of Flagstaff, it is the Driveable 1926 to 1947 Route 66 alignment.
Downtown the 1934-1968 alignment. West of Mikes Pike St. it is the 1926 to 1968 alignment.
Blue: The 1926 to 1934 alignment of Route 66 through downtown Flagstaff.
You can always check out our Route 66 Map of Arizona, with the complete alignment and all the towns.
A Map showing Flagstaff
Route 66's alignment in Arizona: Flagstaff
Route 66 across Arizona
Historic U.S. highway 66, "Route 66" has been designated as an All-American Road and National Scenic Byway in the state of Arizona.
Click on the following link for a Full description of Route 66 across the state of Arizona.
Flagstaff, Arizona, its Sights and Attractions
Things to Do and Places to See
Forests and Route 66 Icons
Flagstaff has its fair share of historic classic Route 66 landmarks: diners, giant lumberjacks, motels, hotels, old alignments and also an wide variety of outdoor sights from volcanos to Native American ruins. Get your kicks in Flagstaff.
Historic context, the classic Route 66
In 1946 Jack DeVere Rittenhouse rode along US 66 and wrote a memorable book detailing his journey ("A Guide Book to Highway 66"). For those interested in the historic Route 66 and its icons, this book is an excellent reference and a must-read.
After leaving Winona Rittenhouse writes that the road climbs steeply towards Flagstaff. He mentions Camp Elden "Another camping spot, with a garage and cafe" east of Flagstaff, and then the town itself, listing its hotels: Monte Vista, Weatherford, Bank, Commercial; many courts, including: Arrowhead Lodge, El Pueblo, Flagstaff Motor Village, Rock Plaza, Vandevier Lodge, Nickerson's, Mac's Motor Inn, Cactus Gardens, Dixon and Sunset.
Rittenhouse wrote that "US 66 goes down the main street of Flagstaff, and soon you are on the road among tall pines again. At 101 mi... is Camp Kit Carson...".
Some Flagstaff Trivia:
Flagstaff: "get your kicks on Route 66"
The classic song "Get your Kicks on Route Sixty-six" was written in 1946 by Bobby Troup during his trip from Chicago to Los Angeles. Flagstaff is one of the three Arizona tonws mentioned in the song (the others are Kingman and Winona).
Read More: Get your Kicks on Route 66, full details on the song and its context.
Now you go through Saint Looey
And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico,
Don't forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino.
Sights in Flagstaff
Walking tour through Flagstaff
Begin your tour at Aspen and Leroux St., by the Historic Weatherford Hotel, in the historic district of Flagstaff.
Historic Downtown District
Downtown, Flagstaff, AZ.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Spanning the old downtown district of Flagstaff and the south side of the Santa Fe railway station, it has many memorable late 1800s buildings and iconic Route 66 landmarks.
23 N. Leroux St., Flagstaff, AZ.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Classic Centennial Hotel established in 1897 by John W. Weatherford. It was one of the first stone buildings in town (to avoid fire risk). It was originally housed a general store. The brick three-story hotel opened on New Year's Day 1900. A fire damaged its balcony and it was removed with the cupola in 1929. It has been restored since the 1970s.
This postcard from the 1940s says, gives a very good description of the local attractions on its back: "FLAGSTAFF, largest city in beautiful Northern Arizona, near snow-capped Flagstaff Peaks, towering 12,655 ft. Highest point in Ariz. Winter skiing, summer picnicking. FLAGSTAFF is the "Capitol" of the Canyon Country. Crossroads U. S. Highway 66 and 89. Ideal stopover to see: GRAND CANYON OF ARIZ., the World's Mightiest Spectacle Colorful OAK CREEK CANYON, unparalleled beauty SUNSET NATIONAL MONUMENT, 9th Century preserved crater WALNUT CANYON NATIONAL MONUMENT, Pueblo Cliff Dwellings The WEATHERFORD, one of Flagstaff's finer hotels, downtown close to everything. Newly furnished and decorated. You will find friendliness and hospitality here. Truly your home away from home.".
Vintage postcard of the Weatherford Hotel from the 1940s
The Weatherford Hotel, below as it stands nowadays is still recognizeable. A spire has been added to the top of the building on the corner and also a roofed wrap-around balcony on the third floor to recover the original early 1900s appearance. But the building is still the same.
Street View of the Historic Weatherford Hotel
Two Spot Logging Train
Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
A 1910 Baldwin Locomotive Co., steam locomotive, tender and log carrying wagon. Retired in 1966 of the Arizona Lumber & Timber Company
Head south along Leroux St. and at Aspen Ave. take a left and walk one block. On the NE corner of Aspen and N. San Francisco St. is the Monte Vista Hotel (see its photo above). Go back to Leroux St. and take a left, southwards.
On the NW corner of Leroux and Route 66 is the old Bank Building (see a street view of it) it was built in 1887 and completed by McMillan in 1888. It housed a bank, a hotel and after 1898, the Stagecoach to the Grand Canyon as well as the McMillan Opera House.
Cross Route 66 to pass by the Visitor Center (old Railway station) where you can have your Route 66 Passport stamped. Then walk one block east along Route 66 to the Historic old steam engine parked at Santa Fe Plaza. Across the road is The Arizona Music Pro where the Greyhound bus terminal once stood. Route 66 entered Flagstaff here and was known as "Front Street", but it did not continue west. Instead it crossed the tracks at San Francisco St. and headed south to Phoenix Avenue where it took a right westwards south of the railroad. Follow the old road to the corner of San Francisco and Phoenix.
Downtowner, Sierra Vista and DuBeau Motels
On the SW corner is the (see a street view of it) Downtowner Motel which opened in 1919 as the Nackard Hotel (formerly a brothel). The current building dates back to the 1930s.
Follow Route 66's 1920s and early1930s alignment west down Phoenix Ave. to Beaver St. passing the Motel Sierra Vista (see a street view of it), and on the NW corner of Phoenix and Beaver is the 1929 DuBeau Motel Inn (see a street view of it). Cross Beaver St. and continue down Phoenix Ave. to Mike’s Pike. Here Route 66 crossed the Rio de Flag and took a left towards the SW along Mike's Pike.
Follow it to Cottage Ave., and on the SE corner (100 Mike's Pike) are the remnants of a home built in 1896 which in 1926 became a store with several cabins; the B&M Auto Camp, (see a street view of it).
Double Circle Garage
Pass the oldest church in Flagstaff (Our Lady of Guadalupe, from the 1930s) and on your right is the Double Circle Garage built in 1926 and still operating as a repair shop. The building retains the same square shaped facade.
A view of the Double Circle Garage in 1938, Albert E. Tate Collection North Arizona Univ.
Go straight to the corner where Mike's Pike meets Butler Ave. and Milton Rd. at "Five Points". Here is where Route 66 took a left along Milton Rd. to the SW. It is also where the 1934 alignment was built towards the north to the Underpass.
Underpass and the 1934 alignment
The old alignment became congested at the railroad crossing so with Federal aid, the underpass was built just north of the railway station and opened on Dec. 24, 1934.
From the south, the road passed under the tracks and then took a sharp turn to the right, eastbound.
On your left you will see the site of the Spur Motel, nowadays Knight's Inn:
The Spur Motel (now Knights Inn)
224 S. Mikes Pike, Flagstaff
The 1950s postcard below of the Spur Motel shows its flashy signpost. The card promoted the Motel as follows: "THE SPUR MOTEL One block west of underpass near College, on Hwys. 66 & 89. Flagstaff, Arizona Beautiful newly constructed units - radiated hot water heating. Tile tub and shower combination. Wall to wall carpeting. Designed to please the most discriminating guest. Phone 906. Mildred & Chester Dohrer Owner-Managers".
The Spur Motel a 1950s postcard
A street view of the motel today shows that despite loosing the sign, it retains the original building even though the bricks have been plastered and the canopy in front of the office converted to additional office space.
The same spot today is the Knights Inn, looking east along Route 66
Just south of the Knights Inn is the Canyon Inn (see a street view of it). Straight ahead, across S. Milton Road is a mural with a cow painting, it was the National Guard Armory, now it is Natural Grocers.
Just north along Milton Rd. is the L Motel, now a Rodeway Inn. The rooms are the same, but the central office is gone. See the images below:
A view of the "L" Motel in a 1960s vintage postcard
Turn right and go towards the underpass. To your right side is Granny's Closet (see a street view of it).
218 S Milton Rd, Flagstaff, AZ
A vintage 1960s postcard of the Lumberjack. ebay.com
The original location of this Muffler Man, was at the restaurant which is now known as Granny's Closet (see its location map).
This cafe was built in the early 1960s and at that time it was named "Paul Bunyan Café", later it was renamed as "The Lumberjack Café.
Next to its main entrance stood a 20-foot tall fiberglass lumberjack (6.1 m).
The postcard depicted in the image proclaimed: "The Lumberjack Cafe Welcomes you to FLAGSTAFF 7000 feet above the sea - 7000 sights to see Delicious Pancakes, Waffles and Breakfast "Heavenly Fried Chicken" Famous $1. 66 Dinners LOOK FOR THE BIG 20 FOOT LUMBERJACK PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY - COME SEE US SOON".
The phrase "LOOK FOR THE BIG 20 FOOT LUMBERJACK..." is a clear indication of its advertising effect, a landmark to attract new customers.
However you won't see it on the sidewalk of Milton Road. The giant has moved to the Skydome at the Northern Arizona University (NAU); now it is the mascot of the NAU lumberjacks.
Nowadays, as you can see in the image below, his jacket and cap sport different colors (See a street view).
>> More information, visit: Muffler Men on Route 66
Cross the underpass and reach the north side of the railroad; see the former Vandevier Motel:
402 W. Santa Fe Ave. NW corner just north of the underpass.
Still there, though the two story gabled house is gone the long one story building along Santa Fe Ave. is still there. See its Street View, and how it looked in the 1950s in this vintage postcard for complete information.
Walk back towards the station on the right side of the road just by the underpass is an old concrete bridge wall of Route 66 where it crossed the Rio de Flag. The City Hall complex replaced many classic Route 66 places, but on the NE corner of Humphrey's St. is what used to be the Lane Motel:
122 Historic Rte 66, Flagstaff
The Lane Motel opened in 1948 on Route 66 and Humphrey's Street, in downtown Flagstaff. It was run by Haydee Lane and Joe Sharber. The part that faced Route 66 had a Texaco service station.
It is still standing, though the service station has closed. Nowadays it is the Roadway Inn. Below is a 1940s motel and a current Street View.
The postcard's back says: "Lane Motel U.S. 66 and 89 Flagstaff, Arizona Phone: 750 A nicely furnished, 17 unit, steam-heated motel with private baths. Innerspring mattresses. Walking distance to theatres, cafes and shopping district. Complete 24-hour "one-stop" Texaco Service while you sleep. A Lane, Sharber and Sharber Enterprise.".
Classic 1940s postcard of the Lane Motel
The two story building on the rear part of the property is intact, but the front, facing Old Route 66 has changed.
The same spot today is the Roadway Inn, looking east along Route 66
And this ends your walking tour. You will need your car to visit the other attractions in town and nearby.
Tours & Itineraries Near Flagstaff
Nearby Route 66 Towns
A tour towards the Northwest
To the west is Lowell Observatory, to the northwest is the Museum of Northern Arizona and further along the highway the Arizona Snow Bowl on Humphrey's Peak, open year round for trekking or skiing. Even further away is the Grand Canyon National Park.
1400 W Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff. 1.4 mi. west of town, see the Map.
Registered National Historic Landmark and Arizona Treasure
There is an admission fee. Visit the Official website for complete information.
Founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell to observe the "canals" on Mars it was here that dwarf planet Pluto was discovered in 1930.
Take a northwestern course along U.S. 180 to visit the Museum of North Arizona
Museum of Northern Arizona
Oldest House in Flagstaff
The oldest home in Flagstaff
Thomas F. McMillan (or McMillon) moved to the area in 1876, setting up his sheep ranch and home here, on what is now the Museum.
His home is part of the museum and is the oldest home in town.
3101 N. Ft. Valley Rd. Flagstaff. It is 2.9 mi. north of town along US 180
Visit the Official website for complete information.
The museum spans 200 acres and includes a campus, laboratories and a collection with over five million Native American artifacts, specimens and art pieces.
Founded in 1928 it also has a gift shop with Native American crafts.
More Route 66 Sights
Visit some Classic Route 66 sights to the West of Flagstaff.
Tour towards the East
Head east along Route 66 from the Visitors Center, below are the stops at some of the motels and landmarks along the old US 66:
A view along Route 66, eastwards, with the Chamber of Commerce building on the right side, the station further away and Route 66 with its traffic in the middle. The postcard below was printed in the 1950s, and shows us how the scenery has changed over the last 60 years.
A view eastwards along Route 66 in downtown Flagstaff 1950s (postcard)
The same spot today, looking east along Route 66
Western Hills Motel
1580 Historic Rte 66, Flagstaff, at Ponderosa Pkwy. NW corner
The Motel's Neon Sign is the oldest one in Flagstaff
The historic Western Hills Motel is still operating, and is exactly the same (from sign to buildings) as it was in the 1950s. See the postcard below, from the 50s and the current street view further down: unchanged.
Postcard from the 1950s, Western Hills Motel
The motel was built by Harold Melville in 1951 who sold it to Charles Greening in 1954. He ran a Coffe Shop in the office building.
How the Western Hills Motel looks nowadays
Accommodation Search box:
2010 Historic Route 66, Flagstaff
2100 Historic Rte 66, Flagstaff
The Motel 66 is shown in the postcard below, which was printed in the 1950s. The motel has retained its appearance with the same stone walls, gabled roof and sign (although now it is painted differently).
1950s postcard of Motel 66, Flagstaff
The postcard above, from the 1950s, says on the back of the card: "The Motel with a smile' 2100 E. Santa Fe Ave. Flagstaff, Arizona 86001 11⁄2 miles east of Downtown Flagstaff. 15 units, some kitchenettes, hot water heat, refrigeration, televisions and garages. Phone 774-6403". Below is how it looks today:
Street View of Motel 66 now
Site of Camp Elden
2924 Historic Rte 66, Flagstaff
Now it is Miz Zip's Cafe, but the building's facade is identical to the original 1930s Campground buildings. See for yourself, by comparing this Street View (brown building with "Let's Eat" neon sign), with this postcard from 66postcards.com (Notice the mountains behind are identical, so this is the site).
3100 Historic Rte 66, Flagstaff
Below we can see a 1970s postcard of the Geronimo Motel, with a "modernistic" entrance canopy held up by three columns, a pictouresque sign and a shaded parking area. Behind the building a steep gabled roof can be seen (part of the motel next door).
A view of Geronimo Motel in a 1970s postcard
Nowadays it has a new name: "Mountain View Inn". The trees are gone, and so is the canopy, but the building has retained its original exterior appearance, and the gabled roof is still there, behind the motel.
Geronimo Motel is now the Mountain View Inn
El Pueblo Motor Court
3120 Historic Rte 66, Flagstaff
The postcard below, from the 1950s, show the El Pueblo Motor Court (or motel). The building is still there, but in a more built-up setup.
El Pueblo Motor Court
Nowadays it is the "El Pueblo Motor Inn", it is still surrounded by pines and the motel area has the same Spanish tiles on its roofed porches. The office building has replaced the old roof with asphalt roofing, but the building is the same.
How the Pueblo Motor Inn looks nowadays
Dean Eldrege Museum
3404 E. Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Dean Eldredge purchased the land in 1931 for a "museum to house many strange and curious relics" on U.S. 66. he built a two-story log house 72 x 43 feet. It's entrance has an inverted fork of a ponderosa pine 11.5 by 9.5 feet. It was refurbished in 1990 and now it is a dance club and roadhouse.
See its Street View
Ruins of Elden Pueblo
E. Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ.
Just 6.5 mi. east of Flagstaff along US 66 - 89, see this map with directions.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
This site preserves the ruins of a Native American village at the foot of Mount Elden. The Sinagua people lived here in stone homes from 1070 to 2175 A.D. About 250 people lived in this village.
The site was discovered in 1926 and has yielded shell jewelry from California, macaw remains from Mexico, evidence that the pueblo was part of a trading system.
Park on the left side of the road, and walk 350 feet to the northwest, to the ruins.
The Alignment of Old Route 66 from Winona to Flagstaff
US 66 in Winona
The National Old Trails Highway built in the early 1910s was originally planned through Phoenix, but the local authorities managed to have it routed from Needles through Flagstaff instead. This led to it continuing on to Winslow and linking it with the Ozark Trail in Romeroville, New Mexico.
The National Old Trails highway was improved in 1922 with Federal funds and became the Flagstaff - Winona highway. The now historic Walnut Creek Bridge was built at that time.
In 1926 when U.S. 66 was created, the Winona to Flagstaff highway with its bridge became part of Route 66. And remaind so until the highway was realigned in 1947. At that time the old road became what is now AZ-394.
Winona to Flagstaff 1926 - 1947 road
The road has a northwest course parallel to the Rio de Flag River, curving around Turkey hill and then, after crossing the river it merged with US 89.
At the junction with US 89, it took a now abandoned course which ended roughly next to the Conoco Service Station on US 89 1⁄4 mi. south of the modern junction. This is shown in the Map above with a "black" line.
From here it headed towards the southwest and then west, into Flagstaff.
1947 - 1968 alignment
From Winona the road was realigned west towards Flagstaff with a shorter course. Now it is covered by the I-40 westbound roadbed from Exit 211 at Winona until Exit 204 (the eastbound lanes were added in 1960). Here you can still drive the 1947 to 1968 road: leave I-40 and follow the road (Historic Route 66) which meets the 1926 alignment further east (at 3800 Historic Route 66 - jct. US 80 and US 180).
After 1968 Route 66 was realigned again, west of Exit 204, all the way to Exit 191, using the course that later became I-40.
Through Downtown Flagstaff
Above in the Walking tour through Flagstaff we describe the original 1926 -1934 alignment that crossed the tracks at San Francisco St., and followed Phoenix Ave., Mike's Pike to five points on S. Milton Rd., and from there headed out of town. This is shown in the Map above with a "blue" line.
In 1934 to avoid the traffic congestion caused by the railway crossing, an Underpass was built west of the railway station and Route 66 was aligned through it.
West of Flagstaff on Route 66
A drive along the 1936 to 1968 Route 66 (After 1968, it realigned to what is now I-40).
Drive to the point where Mike's Pike meets Milton Road and head west along it. The Old Route 66 reaches a point where it splits towards the west and US 89A heads south towards Sedona. Keep along what is now I-40 Business Loop - US 89 westwards.
You will soon reach a classic diner, Galaxy Diner, on the left side of the highway:
931 West Route 66
It was established in 1952 and has somehow managed to remain open, with its classic nostalgic air. See a Street View.
Keep on straight and pass by a campsite mentioned by Rittenhouse in his book:
Camp Kit Carson
2101 Historic Rte 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, United States
An RV park in the forest. (Street View).
Pine Springs Camp
2.8 miles west of Flagstaff on Old Route 66; see Map with Directions, you will pass the Pine Springs Resort & Garage on Route 66. The setting is nice as this part of Route 66 crosses a forested area with pines. The abandoned motel is on the north (right) side of the road. See its Street View".
Keep on Route 66 until accessing I-40 on Exit 191. From here westwards the old roadbed is overlaid by the freeway.
National and State Parks
There are many outdoor options to enjoy nature in the area close to Flagstaff:
San Francisco Volcanic Field
The hills and mountains that surround Flagstaff and extend towards the Grand Canyon are geologically young as they formed during the last 6 million years. They are now extinct volcanoes forming the San Francisco Volcanic Field.
A hotspot below the Earth's mantle heated the magma which caused vast eruptions. As the American tectonic plate moved west, the volcanos spread eastwards.
This created the highest mountain in Arizona (San Francisco Mountain) alt. 12,633 feet (3.853 m) and also the youngest volcano in Arizona, Sunset Crater which erupted some 900 years ago.
Though quiet now, there will be more eruptions in the Volcanic Field, but when they will take place is not known.
The volcanic field covers about 1,800 square miles (4.660 km2) is a great outdoors area. Most of it is lies within Coconino and Kaibab National Forests.
Coconino National Forest
It covers 1.856 million acres (751.000 ha.) and was created in 1898 as a forest reserve. It became a U.S. National Forest in 1908. It borders with the Kaibab National Forest towards the Grand Canyon.
Check the Official website for full details.
Day tour south of Flagstaff
Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive
Fully paved. To and from Sedona along Oak Canyon Scenic Drive is a 59 mi. circuit. If you choose to include the Red Rock Scenic Byway, it is a 87.5 mile (2 hour driving time) round trip.
The road was built in 1914 and paved in 1938; see the Map with Directions.
Head south out of Flagstaff and take SR 89A towards Sedona. The road follows Oak Creek Canyon, with switchbacks and colorful rocks in a forested setting. After 14 mi. you will reach the Oak Creek Vista Point, stop for the view (see a Street View). And then you will reach Slide Rock State Park (21.5 mi.)
Lockett Meadow, Coconino National Forest
Slide Rock State Park
Its name is due to a natural water slide in the slippery bed of Oak Creek. Slide Rock State Park is a state park of Arizona, USA, taking its name from a natural water slide formed by the slippery bed of Oak Creek. Several western movies have been shot here starring John Wayne, Alan Ladd, Charles Bronson and Jimmy Stewart.
Admission fee charged. Check the Official website for more info.
Keep southbound and 29.5 mi from Flagstaff is the town of Sedona.
Red Rock State Park
39 mi. from Flagstaff, just 9.4 mi. to the SW of Sedona, see the Map with directions.
Official website has more details.
A 286 acre. park, with hiking trails along the Oak Creek among meadows, red rock hills and juniper woods. The park has gift shop, picnic tables, visitors center and restrooms.
You can turn back and return along the Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive, or head 9.4 miles to the southwest to visit Red Rock State Park. You can also continue south and complete the circuit along a scenic byway:
Red Rock Scenic Byway
Designated as Arizona's first "All-American Road".
Head south along SR 179. The red rock country has natural sculptures (Steam Boat Rock, Bell Rock, and more). When you reach the freeway I-17 (44 mi.) and head north, back to Flagstaff.
Ideal for a full day tour.
South East of Flagstaff
More sights to the East
Head east towards Winona and visit the Grand Falls, the "Chocolate Niagara" on the Little Colorado River.
Walnut Canyon National Monument
It is 11.5 mi. southeast of Flagstaff (see this Map with Directions).
Check the NPS website.
Open daily except Christmas, it has several trails which allow you to spot wildlife and the remains of Native buildings that dot the canyon walls. It became a protected area as a Forest Reserve in the early 1900s, and was designated National Monument 100 years ago, in 1915.
Northeast of Flagstaff
Wupatki National Monument
It is 44 miles northeast of Flagstaff along US 89 (Map with Directions).
Open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. The entrance fee covers both Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments. The NPS website has more information.
It preserves dozens of ancestral Puebloan villages of the Sinagua culture; the ruins dot the red sandstone cliffs.
You can stop by Sunset Crater on the way:
Sunset Crater National Monument
A view of the cinder cone of Sunset Crater volcano, Flagstaff AZ. Google
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View
21 mi. from Flagstaff via US 89 (Map with directions from Flagstaff to Sunset Crater).
This is a very young (900 year old) volcano, that altered the forest around it with its cinder cone and lava flows. There is a trail you can hike and a viewpoint.
More information at their website.
Scenic Loop Drive
Drive from Sunste Crater Nat. Mon. to Wupataki (1 hour 34 miles) along a scenic loop road through meadows, pine forests and the red sandstone.
This is the map from Sunset Crater to Wupatki and back to Flagstaff, with driving directions.
Northwest of Flagstaff
Arizona Snow Bowl
Located on the majestic San Francisco Peaks it is only 14 miles north of Flagstaff en route to the Grand Canyon. It opened in 1938 and can be visited in winter (for skiing and snowboarding) and summer (hiking and sightseeing). Map with directions.
More information here: Official website.
Grand Canyon National Park
World Heritage site of UNESCO
79 miles northwest of Flagstaff along US 180 (87 mi. via US 66 and NM 64). See a Map with directions.
The incredible Grand Canyon is a short drive away from Flagstaff; plan a full day trip to visit it.
More information at the Park's Official website.
View of the Grand Canyon
North of Flagstaff, Navajo Land
Monument Valley Navajo Nation Park, AZ, by A. Whittall
Navajo Nation Park
It is 172 miles norteast of Flagstaff, a 3 hour drive along US 89, 160 and 163, on the Utah state line. See this Map with Directions.
Visit the Official website for complete information.
This is a classic image of scores of Western movies. The rock pinnacles and buttes surrounded by red sand and shrubs in a valley of ochres and reds. An amazing experience.
Wind and water have eroded the sandstone of the plateau for 50 million years. There are self guided tours and guided ones. Plus a visitors' center and Navajo crafts. The park covers 91,696 acres.
Little Colorado River Tribal Park
It has two viewpoints and includes the Grand Falls (mentioned above), Coalmine Mesa, Marble Canyon and East Rim of Grand Canyon areas.
The Official website has more information.
Priest S., et al., (2001) The San Francisco Volcanic Field, Arizona USGS.
The James R. Powell Route 66 Collection at the Lake County Discovery Museum images are shown under Fair Use.
Will Croft Barnes, Arizona Place Names, University of Arizona Press, 1988.
Historic Route 66 in Arizona All-American Road, National Scenic Byway, www.fhwa.dot.gov.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.