Flagstaff Arizona

It’s a beautiful, cool and colorful October day at 7,000 feet. The aspen leaves are yellow, quaking and gradually drifting to the ground. The sky is a calming blue and cloudless. The sun is high and bright but it just can’t generate the heat it did a few weeks ago. Long pants are more comfortable than cycling shorts and instead of wearing a short sleeved jersey, now I’m wearing a long sleeved wool sweater and vest. It’s not cold, just crisp, like a ripe, tart, fall apple.

We arrived in Flagstaff a week ago and were delighted to see all the bike paths, from that day forward our fondness for this college town on old Route 66 has grown exponentially. It’s location, a short drive from some of the most beautiful national parks in the world is a great attribute but the town itself is special too. Flagstaff is less than 70,000 people but has a great selection of restaurants, pubs, outfitters, bike shops… along with excellent biking, skiing, hiking… and an educated population. It’s high school graduation rate is nearly 10% above the national average and almost 40% of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, 16% above the national average.

Macy’s European Coffee Shop. 31 years old and still going strong.
One of two great Indian restaurants.
We missed the film festival by a few days but we did catch the Northern Arizona University homecoming parade. It reminded me of the final scene of Animal House minus the anarchy and smoke. I was so mesmerized by how wholesome and cute the event was that I nearly forgot to take any pictures.

Flagstaff streets are filled with traditional, well used road or mountain bikes pedaled by people in NORMAL clothing. No custom wood fenders, designer bags, or tweed knickers here. In fact many of the adults don’t even wear helmets – OMG! The people here just seem to be riding their bikes for fun and transportation (like we did as kids) and are not riding to make a politcal or fashion statement. After visiting most of the bike shops and all the outfitters (more than once) we have also been impressed by how helpful, friendly and down to earth all the staff were. Flagstaff appears to be simply inhabited by well educated people that truly like being here because of the outdoor activities available.

Of all the nice things I could say about Flagstaff I find its unpretentiousness or lack of “attitude” one of the city’s most unique and appealing characteristics – and it feels and looks great in autumn too.

Categories: Biking, Travel

Tags: , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. It’s good to hear you made it to Flagstaff. We were there in May one year and woke up to about 8″ of snow. Where are you headed next? The Oak Creek Canyon down to Sedona is really nice. Also I like it over around Kingman too. The drive up Hualapai Mtn. to the south is nice and there is a nice campground with views at the end of the road. Joyce and I will be headed to AZ right after New Years to camp out to Roosevelt Lake in the Tonto NF. We having fun reading your blog and almost feel like we are along for the ride!

  2. Maybe your next blog will be a sailing adventure!?

  3. It’s fun and inspiring to read about your post-AT adventures! Flagstaff is one of my favorite cities and I’ve often thought about living there. A few years ago, two friends and I stayed in an old, funky hostel, full of great character, but I can’t remember the name of it now… Thanks for a lovely reminder of what a great place this is! Looking forward to reading more. I’ve added your blog to my Good Places list on my blog.

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