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Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

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Sunland
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Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

We have reservations in the Grand Canyon for 3 nights starting October 6th and then we are going on to Sedona. If the park is closed and we decided to stay in Flagstaff for two nights and then an extra night in Sedona, what are the best things to see in the Flagstaff area? We like easy to moderate hikes from one to four miles. I'm looking at the Painted Desert, but reading you go to their Visitor Center in the Petrified Forest National Park. Are there areas of the Painted Desert that can be seen not inside the National Park? Also enjoy areas with water or forests. Thanks for any advice you can give.

Mesa, Arizona
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1. Re: Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

Lots of things to do in Flagstaff that are outside of federal areas!

Our favorite is to drive up San Francisco peaks up the road to the Snowbowl. The aspens should be turning and it should be gorgeous. There are several trails - I recommend the Kachina trail, which starts from the parking lot on the right as you get to the top of the mountain. You don't have to hike the whole trail, just go as far as you feel like and turn around - you will be at higher altitude, so if you are not used to that you will need to take it into account. Another nice trail is Viet Springs - google it for details. There are also trails on Mount Eldon - on our "next time" list but we keep going back to the peaks!

Flagstaff has a nice urban trail system - FUTS. If we are in town we often go to Thorpe Park and walk it from there. Riordan State park is very interesting. The Museum of Northern Arizona and Lowell Observatory are definitely worth a visit. And of course you can spend some time wandering around downtown.

Wickenburg, Arizona
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2. Re: Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

I recommend Walnut Canyon, off I-40 just at the eastern fringes of Flag, as well as the Sunset Crater/Wupatki scenic loop off 89 just north of Flag. You see Painted Desert as you drive north on 89 toward Page or Navajo Bridge.

Sedona, AZ
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3. Re: Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

Esty, those are both National Monuments. If the GCNP is closing, we should expect Wupatki and. Walnut Canyon to close as well.

Roswell, Georgia
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4. Re: Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

Esty...won't all your suggested options also be closed in the event of a government shutdown?

Sedona, AZ
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5. Re: Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

Not all Deb. The drive up 89 is classic Painted Desert. A turn off on 160 to Tuba City offers awesome scenery too. Continuing up 89 and taking Alt 89 to Navajo Bridge and Marble Canyon is all stunning and worthwhile as alternatives to the NPs and NMs.

Wickenburg, Arizona
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6. Re: Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

Well, yes, the national parks, but this is not yet a decided thing ... we can always hope

Roswell, Georgia
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7. Re: Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

I'm hoping along with everyone else. Our trip isn't until later in Oct., but I guess they could pass a temp budget that expires with no agreement just in time for our arrival! LOL

Over the years I've learned to take things as they come. I'm sure we'll find alternatives if things go south!

Wickenburg, Arizona
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8. Re: Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

There are definitely more than enough alternatives for sure, but still ... but you're right, why worry about things that might never happen ..

Sedona, AZ
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9. Re: Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

"Worrying is like paying interest on a debt you might never owe." - Mark Twain

I live by those wise words.

Edited: 30 September 2013, 04:37
West Yellowstone...
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10. Re: Flagstaff instead of Grand Canyon

I agree with MarianReader about the drive up toward the peaks- you might time the aspens just right.

A couple of hikes:

Fat Man's Loop is a fave hike just east of town. It's on National Forest property, so I'm not sure how that might be affected (probably only the parking, if anything?). It's a great little 2.5 mile hike with a bit of elevation gain but very interesting.

Red Mountain, also on forest land, is another interesting one: http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gDfxMDT8MwRydLA1cj72BTJw8jAwjQL8h2VAQAzHJMsQ!!/?ss=110304&ttype=recarea&recid=55160&actid=50&navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&position=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&navid=110400000000000&pnavid=110000000000000&cid=null&pname=Flagstaff+RD+-+Red+Mountain+Trail+%23159

For hikes on trails not managed by the National Forest Service, drive to Fort Tuthill and the Coconino County Fairgrounds area. There are hiking trails through the forest in this area.

Other things to do not already mentioned:

Lowell Observatory, a non-profit organization with tours of the observatory where Pluto was discovered and nice programs going on at various times. tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60971-d10…

Museum of Northern Arizona, tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60971-d10…

And the Flagstaff Arboretum: tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60971-d12…

Of course, there is always historic Downtown Flagstaff to wander around and find places to eat or have a drink. You can also check out the area with a self-guided walking tour: flagstaffarizona.org/things-to-do/…

We'll hope for a last-minute rescue out of this situation, but I think there are plenty of things to occupy your time and interest if you take plan B.

Enjoy your trip!