Nestled near the base of northern Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff owes much of its early growth to train travel, beginning with the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in the late 19th century. Today Flagstaff is a stop along Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route, and its historic station—which doubles as the visitor center—stands along Route 66, once another popular way for visitors to reach town.
Autumn offers plenty to entice visitors to this region, whether it’s hiking among the cottonwood, oak, and aspen trees as their leaves turn dazzling hues of orange, red, and yellow, or joining the polka-dancing festivities at the annual Flagstaff Oktoberfest (held October 1 this year) at downtown’s Wheeler Park. There are ample year-round attractions as well, from climbing up cable ladders, crossing wobbly bridges, and zip-lining among towering ponderosa pines at the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course to gazing upon the night stars at Lowell Observatory. It’s home to four public telescopes, including the same 13-inch Lawrence Lowell telescope used to discover Pluto.
Just east of town is Walnut Canyon National Monument, 3,588 square miles of dense woodlands, deep ravines, and ancient cliff dwellings of the area’s Sinagua people. The steep, mile-long Island Trail loop provides access to 25 of them, along with possible sightings of local wildlife, including cottontail rabbits and coyotes.
Flagstaff’s food scene is flourishing these days. Enjoy global wines and artisan cheeses at Brix, all-day buckwheat pancakes and chilaquiles at MartAnne’s Breakfast Palace, or Pizzicletta’s wood-fired pizzas topped with goodies like bacon, roasted mushrooms, and spicy sun-dried tomatoes.