Flagstaff is definitely a four-season town, and each season offers an array of activities for the recreation enthusiasts. There’s camping in the summer, skiing in the winter, and while hiking in the spring and fall, you can enjoy fields of wildflowers or the vista of changing foliage.
Many residential properties back up to the Coconino National Forest and include public trail access points. Many are along the Flagstaff Urban Trail System, 50 miles of interconnecting trails that wind through Flagstaff. The trails have varying degrees of difficulty to suit all tastes and hikers; horseback riders and mountain bikers often can start their outdoor experience not far from their front doors.
Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course offers multiple circuits, each containing a mixture of approximately 10-17 different obstacles, ranging from rope swings to scrambling walls to hanging nets to wobbly bridges and suspended “surprises.” Check-in, safety briefing, demonstration course and all four Adult Courses can be completed in approximately three hours. For more information, (928) 351-7310.
The city and county provide many other recreational venues. The Flagstaff Aquaplex houses a large leisure pool complete with slides and fountains, and three-lane lap pool; a regulation-sized, multi-activity gymnasium; walking and running tracks; and a two-story climbing wall. The city also provides about 30 pocket, neighborhood, community and regional parks. Most of the parks feature children’s activity areas. Two parks, Thorpe and Bushmaster, have “bark parks,” specially gated areas where dogs are allowed off their leashes. Amenities at the city parks include tennis, racquetball, volleyball and basketball courts; baseball, softball and soccer fields; and horseshoe pits. Skate tracks are available at Foxglenn and Bushmaster parks. The city also has a BMX (bicycle motocross)-exclusive park, “The Basin,” on West Street. Picnic ramadas can be rented for gatherings at several of the parks. The county’s Fort Tuthill complex, which hosts the annual County Fair on Labor Day Weekend, includes trails and an amphitheater.
Agassiz at Arizona Snowbowl is considered one of the most advanced ski runs in the Southwest and is one of 40 runs, ranging from beginner to expert, at our ski resort, which celebrated its 75th year in 2013. Recently begun snowmaking at the mountain ensures a consistent ski season regardless of the weather. During the summer, you can still enjoy the Arizona Snowbowl by hopping on its Scenic Skyride to 11,500 feet. Views of both downtown Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon can be seen on the summer ride. At the top of the chairlift, take time to walk around the mountain before riding back to the lodge. You can reach Arizona Snowbowl at (928) 779-1951.
If you are a cross-country skiing or snowshoeing enthusiast, the Flagstaff Nordic Center is very popular with both local residents and visitors. It offers year-round camping in huts and “yurts” – portable, circular tents with bent wood frames. You can enjoy nighttime skiing or snowshoeing under the moon and stars on the facility’s 40 kilometers of trails on Friday nights or anytime if you are a season passholder. Find out more at (928) 220-0550.
For general snowplay, you can go to Wing Mountain out on Highway 180. For up-to-date information on conditions, call (602) 923-3555.
There are four private golf courses and one public course in Flagstaff. The Continental Country Club Elden Hill Golf Course is open to the public, while its Aspen Valley course is private. Both offer 18 holes, clubhouse facilities and pro shops.
South of Flagstaff on 89A is Forest Highlands, a private golf community with two 18-hole courses; two clubhouses; tennis, outdoor pool, volleyball and basketball courts; and a year-round health and fitness center. Forest Highlands Canyon course, created by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, has been ranked among the top 100 courses in the world by Golf Magazine, and Golf Digest rated it as the #1 private course in Arizona. The Meadow Golf Course, also designed by Weiskopf, is a more traditional, park-like walking course and is rated #8 by Golf Digest.
The Jay Morrish signature course at the Pine Canyon Club features numerous ponds and trout-stocked lakes. A par 72 that plays to 7,223 yards from the back tees, the strength of the course is arguably its versatility. A minimum of six tees at every hole accommodate players of all ability. It supports a robust year-round and seasonal residential community with an outdoor pool area and numerous other amenities.
Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club stretches across 454 acres and golf takes center stage. Designed by U.S. Open Champion Jerry Pate, this 7,160 yard championship course takes full advantage of the beauty of its setting. The par 71 course winds gracefully through the community, providing dramatic elevation changes and equally dramatic vistas.
But if your idea of golf involves a Frisbee® and not a nine iron, Flagstaff can accommodate you. The city has numerous disc golf courses. For a list and locations, www.flagstaffdiscgolf.org.
At the nearby lakes, most notably Upper Lake Mary, you can boat, fish, water ski and Jet Ski. The National Forest Service publishes guides that give information on regulations governing use, available facilities and licenses required. A weekly fishing report is provided by the Arizona Game & Fish Department, which is also the local resource for hunting requirements and information. (928) 774-5045 or www.azgfd.gov.
Numerous species of wildlife live in and around the Flagstaff area. Take short drives outside of the Flagstaff area on the highways at dawn or dusk to search out animals. To look for elk drive down Lake Mary Road toward Mormon Lake or take I-17 to Kachina Village; the meadow on the right is a favorite spot in the summer. Drive Highway 180 between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon to spot deer and elk. Other types of wildlife thrive in our forests, including fox, coyote, mountain lion and bear, and are occasionally spotted on Mount Elden or the San Francisco Peaks. Remember to take your camera, drive slowly, pull off of the road if you decide to stop and please don’t approach or aggravate the animals, they are wild and their actions may be dangerous. Information is available through Arizona Game and Fish at (928) 774-5045.
If you would like guaranteed animal sightings, there are several nearby attractions that can offer you animals ranging from deer to bears to wild cats. At the Grand Canyon Deer Farm petting zoo, 25 miles west of Flagstaff on I-40, visitors of all ages are able to pet and feed different species of deer and view a number of different animals. Please call (928) 635-4073 or (800) 926-DEER for hours and rates. Close by at Bearizona, there are bison, black bear, wolves and other animals you can view from the safety of your vehicle. There is also an extensive walk-through section including a Bear “kindergarten” of young cubs. You can reach Bearizona at (928) 635-2289. About 45 minutes south of town is Out of Africa Wildlife Park, where you can see tigers and lions being fed and actually offer treats to giraffes yourself on the African Bush Safari. (928) 567-2840.
Horseback riding in the summer is an additional way you can enjoy the beauty of the forest and possibly catch a glimpse of wildlife. Check out Hitchin Post Stables, (928) 774-1719 or hitchinpoststables.com; or High Mountain Trail Rides, (928) 354-2359.
Camping is a favorite pastime year-round at private campground/RV Parks. Most of the outlying public campgrounds close on a seasonal basis. For listings contact the Peaks Ranger District at (928) 526-0866 or see the Chamber RV & Campground Guide on page 24.
With small and large game roaming the forests of Northern Arizona, hunting is a favorite activity of many residents and visitors. Hunting is under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, (928) 774-5227, so check with the office before going off in search of squirrel, turkey, dove, bear, deer, javelina and elk.
For those wanting more adventure in the wild, a whitewater rafting or kayaking trip on the Colorado River should be considered. Because of our proximity to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff is the go-to city for whitewater rafting, with several outfitters in town. Options include one-day to 21-day trips that are easy floats or encounter class IV rapids. Some trips are specifically designed for the physically challenged. Listings of outfitters are available at the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, (928) 774-4505.
If you enjoy adventure out of the water, Flagstaff’s mountains offer challenging terrain for rock climbers and rappellers. The area’s recommended climbing site is Lake Mary Road near Canyon Vista campground. Obtain directions from the Coconino National Forest at (928) 527-3600. For names of experienced mountain and rock climbing guides, call the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, (928) 774-4505; or the Visitor Center, (928) 774-9541 or (800) 842-7293. Indoor rock climbing is also available at Vertical Relief, 205 S. San Francisco Street, (928) 556-9909; and Beta Bouldering Gym, 495 S. River Run Road, (928) 266-0448.
For a complete look at recreation opportunities in Flagstaff, including coupons for recreation and tour companies, visit www.flagstaffchamber.com.