About 700,000 years ago, the Lava River Cave came into existence after a volcanic reaction took place. This lava tube is located within the premises of the Coconino National Forest and was discovered in 1915 by local lumbermen. The cave is open to public visitation and attracts several nature lovers throughout the year.
The stunning expanse of Walnut Canyon sits on the Colorado Plateau. An extensive, winding trail commences at the visitor center, showcasing a wealth of outstanding geological marvels along its way, including rustic cliff dwellings that stand under beautiful canyon walls. These dwellings are believed to have been constructed by pre-Colombian people, most notably the Sinagua inhabitants. The Island Trail offers a detailed and strenuous hike which voyages deeper into the canyon, a breathtaking 85-foot descent into the heart of the community at this ancient site. Located within close proximity to Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castles, this site also shelters the Old Headquarters, a rustic, log-built cabin, which is said to be one of the earliest in northern Arizona.
Located north of Flagstaff near the Wupatki National Monument, this volcano last erupted a little before the Norman Conquest on the other side of the world in 1066. The volcanic eruption scattered ash and black cinder for miles around the area. Serendipitously, the ashen soil allowed subsequent tribes to inhabit the area due to its ability to retain water. Alongside the volcano, visitors can examine fascinating geologic features such as 'Squeeze-ups' and 'Hornitos,' which are bulbous mounds of lava and droplets. Hike along one-mile Lava Flow Trail and discover hidden wonders or climb a nearby cinder cone on the Lennox Crater Trail and enjoy the astounding views. Unfortunately, hiking to the top is prohibited.
Many travelers are surprised to learn that the world's largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest blankets the mountains of Flagstaff in Northern Arizona. Aromatic treetops brush the endless blue sky just outside of town, but this panoramic portrait is more than just breathtaking scenery for hikers, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts; it's home to wildlife which includes the black bear and American bald eagle. Explore elevations of up to 12,633 feet and watch the flora change from cactus to alpine tundra along the way.
A heartwarming amalgam of nature and culture, the antiquated Flagstaff Historic Downtown is the soul of Arizona. The inextricable traces of Flagstaff's rich railroad heritage still remain intact at this historic quarter. Having aged seamlessly through centuries, it stands strong as a brimming destination of quirky boutiques, quaint coffee shops and a smattering of historical treasures today. Some of the many historic sites include the 1888 Babbitt Brothers Trading Company building, the 1889 Santa Fe Depot, the Spanish Colonial Hotel Monte Vista and the 1920's Weatherford Hotel. A couple of local spots in and around include Flagstaff Brewing Company and Beaver Street Brewery.
Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park rests among a thick cover of pine and juniper trees, giving out a peaceful vibe. The sacred shrine is known to have existed for 2600 years, which makes it even more intriguing. Stupas are very sacred to the Buddhist culture, as they are meant to have the living essence of the Buddha himself. This sacred place is surrounded by scenic hillocks, featuring a striking crimson, that truly bring out the earthy colors of the Stupa. On entering the shrine, one can notice an uncanny peace overpowering their body, creating a gentle hum of solace and serenity; making this tranquil spot a must visit.
Heritage Square is an outdoor plaza with an amphitheater that holds concerts, plays and other events throughout the year in historic downtown Flagstaff. The Heritage Square Trust maintains this 11,000-sq. ft. plaza and as a benevolent organization it provides free events to the public in what the trust calls the "community's living room." The 1200-seat amphitheater is the centerpiece of the plaza and during the year visitors can always see something new. From the summer concert series with plays and music as diverse as jazz and Celtic rock, its a great place to catch an eclectic performance.
Education literally takes a different point of view at Northern Arizona University, due to its silhouette against Flagstaff's San Francisco Peaks. Surrounded by aspen and pine trees in four distinct seasons, students are challenged to better themselves intellectually through an eclectic array of classes and activities. Founded in 1899, NAU lays the groundwork for liberal arts education with opportunities to prepare for a number of specialized professions. Today, nearly 20,000 students embrace the future with their choice of 100 baccalaureate, 40 masters, and eight doctoral degrees. The cultural scene is kept active by various plays, dramas and concerts held at the Studio Theatre in Performing Arts Building. The Cline Assembly Hall in the Cline Library is also frequently used for ceremonies, lectures and talks.
Spread over 215 acres (87 hectares), Buffalo Park is a beautiful green expanse that proffers scenic views of the mountains. The park has a well-marked trail that is frequented by nature lovers and walking enthusiasts. This picture-perfect vision of serenity is a haven for eager photographers as well. What's more, you can get your pooch along as well!
The scent of wild acorns and fresh air is intoxicating while visitors wander around in the world's largest Ponderosa Pine forest. And perched at a heavenly height of 7,150 feet above sea level, Flagstaff's Arboretum is home to more than 2,000 different species of native flora. The arboretum also holds special aviary programs which showcase Arizona's native eagles, hawks, and other birds of prey. Throughout the summer season it hosts events like the popular Native Herb Festival or the Penstemon Plant Sale, and if you enjoy vino, the Wine in the Woods event every September very popular.