Larry W. West

Flagstaff Arizona
Recreation, Education, and Social Diversity

View Map of Flagstaff


The Namesake

Flagstaff is a city located in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2015, the city's estimated population was 70,320. The combined metropolitan area of Flagstaff has an estimated population of 139,097.  It is the county seat of Coconino County.  The city is named after a Ponderosa Pine flagpole made by a scouting party from Boston (known as the "Second Boston Party") to celebrate the United States Centennial on July 4, 1876.

Flagstaff Flagpole  Downtown Heritage Square Christmas

Flagstaff's Geography

Flagstaff lies near the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, along the western side of the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest in the continental United States.  The city is nestled around the base of Mount Elden, just south of the San Francisco Peaks.  Among the San Francisco Peaks is Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,851 m), which is located about 10 miles (16 km) north of Flagstaff.

 Milton Rd looking north toward peaks   Lake and Peaks

Downtown Flagstaff

Downtown Flagstaff lies immediately to the east of Mars Hill where the Lowell Observatory is located.  Streets in the downtown area are laid out in a grid pattern, parallel to Route 66 and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail Line, running east-west through the city.

A variety of weekend festivals occur throughout the year.  For example, on New Year's Eve, people gather around the Weatherford Hotel as a 70-pound, 6-foot (1.8 m) tall, metallic pine cone is dropped from the roof at midnight.

 Downtown Flagstaff Rt66 SF Streets Monte Vista  Coconino County Courthouse


Flagstaff has acquired a reputation as a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts, and the region's varied terrain, high elevation, and amenable weather attract campers, backpackers, climbers, recreation and elite runners, and mountain bikers from throughout the southwestern United States.  There are 679.2 acres of city parks in Flagstaff, the largest of which are Thorpe Park and Buffalo Park.  Wheeler Park, located adjacent to city hall, is the location of summer concerts and other events.

 Bike Riding  Snow Skiing  Hiking

 Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University opened its doors in 1899 with 23 students, one professor, and two copies of Webster's International Dictionary bound in sheepskin.  The first president scoured the countryside in horse and buggy seeking students to fill the classrooms of the single school building (now known as Old Main).

Today, NAU has a lot to be proud of, including its nationally ranked programs, its high-research status, and its emergence as a leader in sustainability, science, business, green building, and cultural arts.

 Old Main NAU   Blome NAU

Flagstaff AZ climate

The Climate

Flagstaff has a rather dry semi-continental climate.  Flagstaff has five distinct seasons: a cold and snowy winter with extended dry periods punctuated with deep snows about once every 3–4 weeks; a dry and windy spring with occasional snows; a very dry and hot early summer from May to early July; a wet and humid monsoon season from July to early September; and a dry and pleasant fall which lasts until the first snows in November.