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The Museum of Northern Arizona and Other Places to Visit in Flagstaff Arizona

Updated on February 22, 2018
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I've lived in Arizona for 70 years (Tucson, Glendale, and Sedona). I love writing about Arizona history, antiques, books and travel.

Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff downtown circa 1965, still looks pretty much the same
Flagstaff downtown circa 1965, still looks pretty much the same | Source

Flagstaff Natural and Beautiful

The City of Flagstaff is located in North-Central Arizona on the Colorado Plateau. Set in tall pines with the San Francisco Peaks as a backdrop, the views are beautiful in all seasons. Flagstaff is sometimes called a City of Wonders because just a short drive south is the beautiful Oak Creek Canyon with its towering colorful rock walls. At the end of Oak Creek Canyon is the city of Sedona and Red Rock Country. To the east and northeast of Flagstaff is Wupatki Ruins National Monument and Walnut Canyon National Monument; both archelogical Native Amercian gems. Sunset Crater Volcano lies north east with its rugged lava fields and of course the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is less than 2 hours away.

In 1851, Lt. Edward Beale was commissioned to create early wagon roads to facilitate travel to California and to aid development in the area. When the railroad came in 1882, a lumber mill and sheep and cattle ranching encouraged growth. When Route 66 debuted in 1926, Flagstaff became a favorite stopping place, and Flagstaff's population continued to grow.

Museum of Northern Arizona

Enterance of Museum reflects Southwestern influence
Enterance of Museum reflects Southwestern influence | Source

Museum of Northern Arizona

Harold and Mary Russell Ferrell Colton moved to Flagstaff in 1926. Harold was interested in geology, archaeology, botany and other scientific pursuits in Arizona. Mary, who was an artist, immediately became interested in the Native American art. Soon they were funding the Museum of Northern Arizona. The Museum is located just outside Flagstaff on Highway 180 which is considered the scenic route to the Grand Canyon. The old stone building, with a center courtyard features several galleries highlighting the art and culture of the Navajo, Hopi and Pai Native Americans. You will learn about pottery, baskets, silversmithing, and culture of Southwestern tribes and be able to view a replica of a kiva. The museum shops feature authentic items by Native Americans and in most cases, they know the artists who created them. In the summer, the Museum hosts heritage festivals and educational programs and throughout the year display special collections. For more information visit or call 928-774-5213.

Geological Room Museum of Northern Arizona

Old rocks, fossils, meteorites, and dinosaur bones
Old rocks, fossils, meteorites, and dinosaur bones | Source

Arizona Snowbowl

Arizona Snowbowl is located about 14 miles from Flagstaff and is situated on the San Francisco Peaks. Arizona Snowbowl is one of the oldest, continually operated Alpine Ski areas in the U.S. and was built by CCC labor in 1938. In the summer, it is very refreshing to ride the ski lift to the top elevation of 11,500 ft and enjoy the scenic view of the surrounding area including the Grand Canyon. The ski season is usually from mid-December to mid-April with an average snowfall of 260 inches. There are 5 lifts and 2 day lodges. Private and group lessons are available, and a sport shop, and equipment rental. For more information: Visit or call 928-779-1951.

Arizona Snowbowl


Hanging Around Haunted Places

If investigating haunted places is something you enjoy, Flagstaff boasts two hotels, and one most unusual drinking and dancing bar on Route 66, that many claim are haunted. The Weatherford Hotel at 23 N Leroux St downtown Flagstaff opened its doors in 1900. It has gone through a number of renovations, and various owners, and in 1997, the Zane Grey Ballroom on the 3rd floor underwent an impressive renovation. Voices and music can be heard when the earthly are not present, and the ghosts of a bride and groom linger in Room 54. The Monte Vista (called the Monte V by locals) located downtown at 100 N San Francisco St. was built in 1927. In its heyday, John Wayne, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Pres Harry Truman and a host of other famous stayed at the Monte Vista. It is said that two prostitutes who were murdered in the 1940s never checked out. A phantom bellboy has been seen and heard shouting "Room service" in the hallways, and in the bar in the Monte Vista (site where a bank robber bled out in 1970), bottles are rearranged and stools move on their own. The Zane Grey Ballroom is said to have a dancing female ghost.

The Museum Club, nicknamed The Zoo is located at 3404 Route 66. In previous years, this "rocking" bar which opened in 1931 was once a trading post and taxidermy shop with a host of animal trophies on the walls. The Museum Club was purchased by Don Scott a former member of the Texas Playboys band and from 1963-1973 the Museum Club hosted notable Country Western stars and their bands. One night in 1973 Don's wife Thorna was walking upstairs to their apartment over the Club, and fell to her death. Don tried to keep the Club going for awhile, but was increasingly unhappy and killed himself in front of the fireplace in the Club. Sometimes the ghost of Thorna can be "spotted" in a booth, and at other times, she "works" behind the bar back. Lights turn off and on, and items in the Club are moved around during the night. The Club continues to be a local favorite for Country Western fans.

Famous Museum Club Route 66

The entrance to this rip roaring real Western bar
The entrance to this rip roaring real Western bar | Source

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University | Source

Some Miscellaneous Fun in Flagstaff

Downtown Flagstaff offers local shops and restaurants with unusual gifts, clothing, books, souvenirs, art, jewelry and ethnic foods. Northern Arizona University is just blocks from downtown and its fun to stroll though the old and new buildings on the campus. Cline Library on the campus has an impressive collection of photos and books on Flagstaff and Northern Arizona. Lowell Observatory built in 1916, just west of downtown, offers public tours and programs. Riordan Mansion a 13,000 sq ft home built by the Riordan brothers who married the Metz sisters, is filled with the original contents. The Pioneer Museum, a part of the Arizona Historical Museum group provides a good overview of what life was like in early Flagstaff. Of course, the original portions of Route 66 are a draw for Route 66 fans from all over the world.

Fans of hand crafted beer should walk the Flagstaff Ale Trail. The self-guided walking "trail" allows visitors to taste beer at six breweries and pubs. Details can be found at

While visiting the natural wonders that surround Flagstaff Arizona, be sure to save enough time to explore Flagstaff. The former Santa Fe Railroad Station and current Amtrak Station located downtown serves as a Vistor Information Center.


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