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.
Lumber barons Timothy and Michael Riordan built this 40-room mansion in 1904 to house their massive families. Its architect, Charles Whittlesey, also designed the magnificent El Tovar Hotel located at the Grand Canyon. What's most interesting about the structure is that the two sides are mirror images, with a huge common area in the center, to provide each family with identical private quarters and shared living spaces. The park also includes picnic areas and a visitors center that contains exhibits. Guided tours of the mansion and grounds are held at regular times throughout the day.
Many travelers are surprised to learn that the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest in North America 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 is home to a variety of wildlife, which includes the black bear and American bald eagle. Explore elevations of up to 12,633 feet (3850.5 meters) and watch the flora change from cactus to alpine tundra along the way.
Observe the cosmos from the same spot where Clyde Tombaugh discovered the planetoid Pluto in 1930. In addition to cosmological wonders above, the planetarium has interactive exhibits, live shows, a massive theater and knowledgeable guides that explain the universe from below. The Clark Telescope is the main highlight and throughout the year, the observatory holds viewings of celestial events like meteor showers, comets, etc. A great place to visit for all ages and especially for those interested in astronomy.
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.
A seasonal guided walking tour of the classic haunted places of Flagstaff is filled with ghostly tales, unexplained phenomenon and spine-tingling tales of Flagstaffs colorful past. Stops along this tour include the Brakeman, Emerson the Ghost, the Balcony Specter, the Old Man in the Basement, the Zane Grey Ballroom, and many more. This is a spooky historic tour sure to thrill young and old, especially during the ghostly Halloween season. Free and open to the public, this volunteer-guided walking tour dedicated to the rich history of Flagstaff's most haunted places is time well spent exploring one of the most haunted cities in Arizona. -Herman Sims
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.
Originally built as a hospital in 1908, this museum is operated by the Arizona Historical Society and serves as a tribute to Northern Arizona's pioneer days and agricultural roots. An antique railroad engine welcomes you to the grounds, and exhibits familiarize you with the area's first settlers and their many contributions to the birth and growth of the city. One of the museum's most popular events during the year is the winter "Playthings of the Past" exhibit, featuring toys and games from the late 1800s to mid-1900s.