Christina Tierney


When things start to heat up in Tucson, Arizona’s mountain towns provide the perfect summer retreat. Not only will you experience temperatures that are 20 to 30 degrees cooler than Tucson, but you will also have an opportunity to get to know another part of our fantastic state. One of our favorites is Flagstaff, AZ. Drive time from Tucson is typically in the 3 ½ to 4 hours range and some spectacular scenery is displayed north of Phoenix along the I-17.
Flagstaff is in Northern Arizona, just 90 minutes south of the Grand Canyon. With an elevation of 6,909 feet in town and the highest peak in AZ reaching 12,637 (Humphreys Peak), the air is much cooler. Home of Northern Arizona University (NAU), there is a college town atmosphere combined with a laid-back outdoorsy vibe. The downtown area features good restaurants, hip coffee shops and local retail, along with Heritage Square, home to a variety of events throughout the year. Surrounding the town there are trails galore for hiking, trail running, mountain biking and off-road adventures. Here are just a few of our top picks when you are in Flagstaff over the summer!
Every Sunday from May through October, outside city hall, there is a robust market with produce, meats, local honey, breads, artisan made goods and a variety of food trucks. This market is amazing! After you’ve checked out all of the vendors, hang out at Wheeler Park under one of the shade trees with breakfast.
Go for a Walk or Run | BUFFALO PARK
Buffalo Park features a wide 2 mile path that winds through Ponderosa Pines and offers open vistas of the San Francisco Peaks. This mostly flat trail accommodates walking, running, strollers and bikes for all levels. Buffalo Park also intersects the Arizona Trail and the Flagstaff Urban Trail System. If you see some zippy runners, they just might be training for the 2024 Olympic trials!
Enjoy Plants & Nature | THE ARBORETUM
The Arboretum at Flagstaff’s mission is to increase the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of plants and plant communities native to the Colorado Plateau. Enjoy beautiful views while walking the trails and gardens, take time for bird watching, or find a shady spot to read or draw. The Arboretum also offers events, like our favorite, the summer concert series!

Celebrate the 4th | 4th of JULY PARADE
The 4th of July parade in Flagstaff is as good as it gets! The true essence of a small town is displayed with a 2-hour promenade through the historic downtown with firetrucks, antique cars, floats of every variety and people of all ages. The community is out in full force, and everyone has a great time. It can be tricky to find a spot to setup along the route, so arrive early.
Hike the Highest Peak in AZ | HUMPHREYS PEAK
At 12,633 ft, Humphreys Peak stands tall with views far and wide. It’s a challenging climb, 10 miles round trip and 3,400 ft of elevation gain, but worth the effort. Starting near Arizona Snowbowl, the journey will take you through a long stretch of woods before reaching open rocky terrain. It’s a bit of a grind to reach the summit but is fulfilling and the views are spectacular. On a clear day, you can even see the north rim of the Grand Canyon!
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