While it’s not exactly thought of as a destination in itself, if you happen to be traveling to the Grand Canyon, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Sedona, or anywhere along Arizona’s historic Route66, Flagstaff is quite possibly one of the best places to stop and recharge in a number of ways! Love Thai food? The green curry at Red Curry Kitchen is a MUST! Love coffee? The “Cafe Latte Royal” at Macy’s Coffee will render you blissfully caffeinated. Love the outdoors? Try any of these 3 great hikes!:#1. Humphrey’s Peak: at 12,635 it’s the highest peak in Arizona!
8.6 miles roundtrip, 3,333 feet elevation gain, 8-10 hours total for most but can be done in 5 if you’re a seasoned vet like us.
The trail is rocky, rooty and very steep. With 3 false summits, you’ll be begging for the top, but with Sunset Crater in the distance and the Grand Canyon visible on the horizon, the views are just enough to keep you going until you finally reach that glorious summit.
Note: Be sure to park and start your trek at the Snowbowl parking lot! If you type “Humphrey’s Peak Trail” in your GPS it will take you down a rocky, pothole-infested “road”… trust us… we learned the hard way.
#2. O’Leary Trail overlooking Sunset Crater Volcano NP
7 miles roundtrip, 2,000 feel elevation gain, 4-5 hours total.
The trail is smooth, lined with trees, wild flowers and runs along an impressive lava field. It offers the absolute best views of Sunset Crater than any other hike in the area:
The summit rests at 8,916 feet and is well-worth taking the time to enjoy the fresh air and the incredible perspective on the ancient, volcanic grounds below.
Tip: Time this hike so you can enjoy a beautiful Arizona sunset over Sunset Crater! We even had the pleasure of finishing just in time to watch the super rare, Super Blood Moon Eclipse!
#3. Spelunking in the Lava River Cave!
(Notice Drew putting his Burning Man clothes to use above… it was not as muddy as we had anticipated, actually it was not muddy at all.)
1 mile long, 1.5 hours total, it’s chilly (between 35° and 45° Fahrenheit) and VERY DARK! Wear a beanie, gloves, sweat shirt, pants, closed-toe shoes and bring at least 2 light sources per person (with full battery). Both our headlamp batteries were on low, but we had a flashlight and cell phone as backup, which we luckily didn’t need.
It is the longest “lava tube” of its kind in Arizona! Geologists believe it was formed sometime between 650,000 and 700,000 years ago! We emerged from this underground “museum” after the sun had set and before our eyes could adjust it looked like the ceiling was covered with glistening water droplets, but moments later we realized we were standing outside beneath a sparkling, star studded night sky: