Flagstaff, Arizona – High Country In The Desert

Flagstaff, Arizona – High Country In The Desert

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Flagstaff, Arizona is not what comes to mind when many people think of Arizona.   At 7,000 feet, this is the land of clean air, cool pine trees, huge snowfalls, four seasons, and warm tolerable summers.   Just 142 miles north of Phoenix, this is where the rest of Arizona comes as a respite from the heat of summer.   When its 116 in the valley, 82 sounds like a chilly day in July!   Many choose their season and lifestyle for winter skiing, summer hiking, or just year round exploring of Route 66.

The town got its name 1876 when a group of settlers camped along a spring, and in honor of the centennial, stripped a local pine tree of its branches and raised an American flag.  Their “flag staff” became a landmark for other settlers and travelers.  But the town really came into its own in 1880 when the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad began to lay track from Albuquerque to California.  The top of the hill was a perfect place for a town.  The railroad became operational in 1882 and Flagstaff became an important stopping point.  In 1921, Flagstaff again put itself on the map when Route 66 connected Chicago to Santa Monica California.


Today, Flagstaff is home to Northern Arizona University and remains an important stopping point for the railroad and highway system.  It is also an artists community, an outdoor base camp, and a major tourist destination in northern Arizona.

Weather:   The average high in January is 43 – but don’t let that mislead you!   It can snow buckets in the winter, but it quickly melts away.   July is the hottest month reading into the mid 80’s.  There are 288 days of sunshine per year, 22.9 inches of rain and a whopping 108 inches of snowfall every season.

Population:  There are 68,000 residents (including students) in the city of Flagstaff, and 6.4% are over the age of 65 – which is quite low.

Housing:   The median sale price of a home in the city is $281,000.   Rentals vary greatly.  We found this cute 2 bedroom, 2 bath home in Mountainaire on a treed lot.

Flagstaff mountain home listed in Zillow
Flagstaff mountain home listed in Zillow

Crime:  The overall crime rate for this area is a little higher than we’d like to see, but like anyplace else, this depends on the part of town.  Most neighborhoods are quite safe.

Major Attractions:   My husband will tell you the highlight of Flagstaff is a major freight train or Amtrak coming through several times an hour.  Most residential areas are well away from the train noise.   The Grand Canyon is about 70 miles away, Sedona is 28 miles south (see another post on this site).  The Lowell Observatory can be found on Mars Hill Road and is a research facility with a visitor program.  If you go at night, you can view the stars through a variety of telescopes.  Native American culture is everywhere with several museums, historic sites, gift shops, and ruins.   Monument Valley is in the far north end of the state and well worth a drive to see.  You will have plenty to do if you are into golf, horseback riding, biking, and wildlife.

Flagstaff has always been one of our favorite towns in Arizona and well worth at least a visit if you are in the area.

Zoom in and out on the map below to see roads and attractions!




Cheryl and her husband have just recently retired and live in the Pacific Northwest. She has been enjoying her herself by traveling around the world, playing with her grandchildren, and she frequently volunteers in her community. There is certainly never a dull moment with Cheryl. She cheerfully co-founded RetireBook and wants to share her energy, hoping that it inspires her readers to live life at its fullest.