Choose from 6 Fun Things to Do in Flagstaff
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Enjoy a sweeping panoramic view of the Grand Canyon from the historic Desert View Watchtower. Architect Mary Colter created the tower, built in the early 1930s, as an homage to the watchtowers built by the Ancestral Puebloan people who once inhabited the Four Corners area. The murals inside were painted by a local Hopi artist.
The Desert View Watchtower serves as the official national park visitor center for the Desert View area of Grand Canyon National Park. Most guided tours of the South Rim, including day trips from Flagstaff and Sedona, stop at the Watchtower, along with other area attractions such as Grand Canyon Village, Yavapai Point, and Lipan Point. Fixed-wing flightseeing tours offer a unique perspective on the Grand Canyon landmark from above.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Desert View Watchtower is a must-see for art lovers, history buffs, and photographers.
- Be prepared to climb 85 steps to reach the tower’s observation deck.
- The Kiva Room within the structure houses a shop selling books and gifts.
- Only the bottom floor of the Desert View Watchtower is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The Desert View Watchtower stands at the East Gate of Grand Canyon National Park. Getting there takes about 90 minutes by car from Flagstaff and 40 minutes from Grand Canyon Village.
When to Get There
The best time to visit the Desert View Watchtower is during either the spring or autumn shoulder season, when temperatures are cool and summer crowds have thinned. The watchtower often hosts cultural and ranger programs, so check the calendar before your trip.
Desert View Drive
This scenic route through Grand Canyon National Park follows the South Rim from just east of Grand Canyon Village all the way to the Desert View Watchtower and the park’s east entrance. Visitors who make the drive will pass six marked canyon viewpoints, four picnic areas, an Ancestral Puebloan ruin site, and the Tusayan Museum, which displays artifacts and traditional handicrafts made by local native tribes.
Address: Desert View, Grand Canyon Village 86023, USA
From $ 126
Walk in the footsteps of the Native American tribes who built their pueblos in the deserts of the American Southwest at Wupatki National Monument. For thousands of years, tribes like the Anasazi and Sinagua lived in these rugged deserts, and among the myriad pueblos left behind is Wupatki Ruin, one of the largest and most elaborate in the region. It was three stories tall and had almost 100 rooms when the Sinagua people built it about 800 years ago. Along with exploring the ruins of a dozen pueblo villages, visitors can also hike the easy Doney Mountain Trail to the top of a volcanic cinder cone, and the visitor center has exhibits describing the culture and history of the people that lived here.
Wupatki National Monument is about 45 miles to the northeast of Flagstaff and about 65 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The park is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Christmas. Admission costs $20 per vehicle, and that includes entry to both Wupatki and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monuments.
Address: 25137 N. Wupatki Loop Road, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA 86004, USA
Hours: Open daily 9am-5pm, except December 25
Admission: $20 per vehicle
From $ 164
There’s a certain thrill when a wild animal suddenly appears on a road trip. In most cases you see it, you reach for the camera, and before you know it, it’s gone. At the Bearizona Wildlife Park, however, outside Williams, Arizona, driving the compound is like experiencing that thrill on repeat every couple of minutes, as bears, wolves, Dall’s sheep, and mule deer appear out the window of your car. On the three mile long, self drive adventure, visitors will experience numerous encounters you would never expect up close—so much so that it’s required you keep the windows up at all times. Watch as a black bear lumbers through the forest or a wolf sneaks slowly through the grass, or Bighorn sheep, bison, and burros graze in the forested setting. In winter, many of the animals are covered in snow and the forest is a whitewashed wonderland, and you can get to experience an American safari and still use the heater in your car. After making a lap through the wilderness enclosure, head inside for the raptor show and exhibit on birds of prey, or walk through the trails at Fort Bearizona to see baby animals up close. Throughout the day, there are educational talks and shows such as feeding the otters and bobcats, as well as tips on how to safely share the wilderness with bears.
When visiting the Bearizona Wildlife Park, most visitors will want to allot at least two hours to visit. There are strict rules against feeding the wildlife, and only cars with functioning windows are allowed to drive through the park. Set on the roadside of Route 66, the park is approximately 30 minutes from Flagstaff and an hour south of the Grand Canyon.
Address: 1500 Historic Route 66, Williams, Arizona 86046, USA
Hours: Cars are admitted from 9:30am-3:30pm and the wilderness park closes at dusk
Admission: Adults: $20; Children: $10
From $ 22
To sample some of Flagstaff’s best craft beers, head to Mother Road Brewing Company. Named after Historic Route 66, which was nicknamed the Mother Road in its heyday, the brewery sits just a couple blocks from the iconic highway that runs through the center of town. The brewery is located in the Milum Building, a former commercial laundromat that has been repurposed in an ideal spot to grab a pint after a day of adventuring in the surrounding mountains and high desert. Their artfully crafted beers include complex flavors like the mesquite honey and British hops of the English Barleywine-style 4th Anniversary Ale or the coffee and orange notes of the popular chocolate stout Lost Highway.
While Mother Road doesn’t serve food, it does have an arrangement with Pizzicleta, in the same building, so patrons can order pizzas from their barstool. For visitors interested in learning more about the production side, the brewery offers weekly tours every Saturday afternoon at 3pm for $10, which include two 10-ounce beers, along with coasters and stickers as souvenirs.
Address: 7 South Mikes Pike, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA 86001, USA
Hours: Open Mon-Thurs: 2pm-9pm; Fri: 2pm-10pm; Sat: 12pm-10pm; Sun: 12pm-9pm
From $ 49
About 1,000 years ago, outside what is now Flagstaff, a cinder cone in the San Francisco Volcanic Field blew its top, showering the surrounding area with lava and ash. Since then, the minerals in the soil around the rim of the crater rusted, creating a striking red ring that lends the name Sunset Crater. A national monument was created here in 1930 when locals protested the plan of filmmakers to detonate explosives on the side of the slope. The main attractions at the small park are the visitor center, with its interactive volcano exhibits, and the short Lava Flow Trail that loops around the base of the volcano. Visitors can’t climb to the edge of Sunset Crater, but for those interested in scaling a volcano, the Lennox Crater Trail is open to hikers.
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is about 20 miles to the northeast of Flagstaff and about 70 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The park is open every day except Christmas. Admission costs $20 per vehicle, and that includes entry to both and Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National monuments.
Address: 6082 Sunset Crater Road, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA 86004, USA
Hours: Open daily Nov-May: 9am-5pm and May-October: 8am-5pm; closed Dec 25
Admission: $20 per vehicle
From $ 164
A popular gathering spot for locals and visitors alike, Beaver Street Brewery is an easy-going bar and restaurant like you hope to find in any town that prides itself on the adventurous nature of its surroundings. During the summers, it’s a hub of river guides, mountain bikers, and road trippers cruising Route 66. Under the warm sunshine, crowds gather in the outdoor beer garden to eat and drink against a great view of the San Francisco Peaks. Come winter, the ski crowd piles inside for burgers, pizzas and fondue alongside bold, award-winning beers like Big Rapid Red and Hopshot IPA.
In addition to the restaurant, Beaver Street Brewery also has a bar and grown-up game room next door, with a full-size Connelly billiard tables and a variety of other games to keep the mood light while enjoying beers with friends.
Address: 11 S Beaver St #1, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA 86001, USA
Hours: Restaurant Hours - Sun-Wed: 11am-11pm; Thurs-Sat: 11am-12am Bar/Game Room Hours - Sun-Wed:11am-1am; Thurs-Sat: 11am-2am
From $ 49