Arts & Recreation in Northern Arizona
Northern Arizona is home of the Grand Canyon, which draws close to 5 million people each year. The immense natural wonder is a spectacularly beautiful gorge, with an average depth of about one mile. It runs 277 river miles long and rafting along its length is one of the most popular activities at the canyon, along with hiking, biking, motor tours of scenic roads and lookouts and mule trips along the canyon rim. Any trip to the Grand Canyon should start with a visit to the National Park website to plan for your excursion.
Flagstaff Urban Trail System
The Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS, which the locals pronounce "foots") is a city-wide network of non-motorized, shared-use pathways that are used by bicyclists, walkers, hikers, runners, and other users for both recreation and transportation. At present there are about 56 miles of FUTS trails in Flagstaff with about 75 more miles or trails planned for the future. FUTS trails offer an incredibly diverse range of experiences; some trails are located along busy streets, while others traverse beautiful natural places - canyons, riparian areas, grasslands, meadows, and forests - all within the urban area of Flagstaff. The system connects neighborhoods, shopping, places of employment, schools, parks, open space, and the surrounding National Forest, and allows users to combine transportation, recreation and contact with nature.
Northern Arizona’s wealth of golf clubs means that you don’t have to travel to Phoenix to enjoy a well-crafted 18-hole course, including one open to the general public, the Continental Country Club. Among the highlights are The Pine Canyon Club, steeped in rustic elegance with a course designed by Jay Morrish; the Canyon course at Forest Highlands Golf Club, a collaboration between Morrish and Tom Weiskopf.
Photo courtesy of Flagstaff Ranch
You can ski and snowboard at the highest elevation in the state at Arizona Snowbowl. Located in the San Francisco Peaks, the alpine skiing resort accumulates an average of 260 inches of snow each winter. But Arizona Snowbowl is a year-round destination as well, with a scenic chairlift in the summer and excellent hiking. This includes the Humphreys Peak Trail that takes hikers to the top of Mt. Humphreys, an elevation of 12,633 feet.
For fun on the water, head north to Page and the beautiful Lake Powell, straddling the Arizona-Utah border. The man-made reservoir is a paradise for boating (including houseboats), waterskiing, fishing and exploring the rugged landscapes of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
Northern Arizona offers numerous chances to view wildlife. In additional to the deer, elk and other animals commonly found in the region’s vast national forests, there are also several zoological parks, including:
- Out of Africa. You can get up close and personal at this authentic wildlife preserve featuring lions, tigers, giraffes, rhinoceros, water buffalo, zebras and more. Adventures at the park include a zipline, a an African Bush Safari Tour, even an excursion in a unimog that allows you to give a treat to a giraffe.
- Bearizona. In addition to the animals that give Bearizona its name, the part also features wolves, bison, North American river otters, bobcats, foxes and more. There are drive through and walk through sections, as well as a birds of prey free flight show featuring raptors and owls.
Each first Friday of the month, art galleries and businesses in historic Downtown Flagstaff open their doors from 6-9pm with special art exhibitions, performances, live music, treats and much much more. Many downtown hot spots remain open after 9 pm as the ArtWalk celebrations continue. It’s Flagstaff monthly street party – the ArtWalk is one of those rare events that both locals and out-of-towners attend and enjoy.
In addition to the visual arts, Northern Arizona boasts of many performance centers, ranging from rock concerts at the Orpheum Theatre in Flagstaff and the Pepsi Amphitheater at Fort Tuthill; live theatrical performances from Theatrikos and the Flagstaff Light Opera Company and full classical concerns with the Flagstaff Symphony. In addition, numerous clubs host local bands in Historic Downtown Flagstaff.