THE GRAND CANYON IS JUST ONE OF MANY ATTRACTIONS FOR TRAVELERS HEADING TO NORTHERN ARIZONA
GoCampingInArizona.com the statewide travel planning website, helps travelers identify “base camps” they can use for their trips to see some of best preserved Native American cliff dwellings and other archaeological sites across Northern Arizona
Arizona is synonymous with the Grand Canyon.
And most people have heard of the beautiful red rock monoliths of Sedona, in the central part of the state.
But not as many people have heard of Jerome, the historic copper mining town perched on the top of a narrow ridge overlooking the Verde Valley. The picturesque town is filled with museums, antique stores as well as art and jewelry stores.
Even lesser known are some of the national monuments near Flagstaff that contain some of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America.
“There’s a lot to see in Northern Arizona in addition to the Grand Canyon, particularly if you have an interest in Native American history and culture,” said Jo Ann Mickelson, president of the Arizona Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, which hosts GoCampingInArizona.com, the statewide travel planning website.
While many travelers zoom through Flagstaff on their way to the Grand Canyon, the city is home to one of the country’s oldest astronomical observatories as well as one of the nation’s best museums of Native American art and culture.
Flagstaff is also a jumping off point for day trips to see ancient petroglyphs, the rock art of the Native Americans, as well as several unique attractions ranging from the Petrified Forest to Monument Valley, one of the most scenic locations in the American Southwest, to the Meteor Crater, the best preserved crater created by a meteorite in the world.
“Flagstaff is a logical base camp location for many excursions across Northern Arizona. But GoCampingInArizona.com has a search function that enables you to find campgrounds, RV parks and resorts in every area of the state,” Mickelson said.
Here’s a sampling of some of the more interesting attractions in Northern Arizona:
— Antelope Canyon: One of the most photographed slot canyons in the world, Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land near Page, Ariz. and the Utah border. Several private tour companies offer guided hiking and photography tours into the canyon. Click on these links for more information about tours of Antelope Canyon and other scenic canyons in the area: http://navajotours.com; www.antelopecanyontours.com; www.navajoantelopecanyon.com; and www.overlandcanyontours.com.
— Bearizona in Williams: This is a wild animal park that gives visitors a chance to drive through a 2-mile route with opportunities to see black bears, arctic wolves, gray wolves, bison, big horn sheep and mountain goats. The park also has a petting zoo and a bird of prey show. www.bearizona.com
— Canyon de Chelly National Monument: This is a very scenic canyon with cliff dwellings in near the New Mexico border, just over three hours northeast of Flagstaff. The park is jointly managed by the Navajo Nation and the National Park Service. Several guided tours are available. https://www.nps.gov/cach/index.htm
— Deer Farm and Petting Zoo in Williams: This is a kid-friendly petting zoo with a variety of animals, including, deer, goats and pigs. www.deerfarm.com
— Four Corners: This is the only place in the United States where four states meet at one point. At the Four Corners monument you can sit in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado at the same time. The monument is managed by the Navajo Nation. http://www.utah.com/playgrounds/four_corners.htm
— Homolovi State Park near Winslow: Located 58 miles east of Flagstaff, this park offers several special tours and seminars throughout the summer and early fall. The park’s archaeological sites include four major pueblos, numerous smaller structures ranging in size from one-room pit houses to a 1,200-room pueblo. The park also has panels of petroglyphs with depictions of kachina and clan symbols. Star parties are scheduled 30 minutes after sunset at the visitor center observatory on July 7, Aug. 11, Sept. 1, Oct. 6 and Nov. 3. A “Suvoyuki Day” is scheduled for Aug. 4 and will include native dancers, corn roasting, a morning run, archaeological information and artist demonstrations. A presentation on famous women astronomers is set for Sept. 1. http://azstateparks.com/Parks/Horu/index.html
— Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff: A national historic landmark, this is one of the oldest observatories in the United States. Research conducted at this observatory had led to several important discoveries, including the realization that the universe is expanding; the discovery of the planet Pluto in 1930; the co-discovery of the rings of Uranus in 1977; the discovery of periodic variations in the brightness of Halley’s Comet; and the first detection of water in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet. The observatory has nighttime sessions scheduled throughout the summer where visitors can meet an astronomer, ask questions and see real-time video images of planets, stars, galaxies and other celestial objects. Daytime tours are also available as well as opportunities to view the sun with special equipment. www.lowell.edu
— Meteor Crater: This is the considered the best preserved meteorite impact site in the world. The crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and 550 feet deep. The park is about 30 minutes east of Flagstaff. www.meteorcrater.com
— Montezuma’s Castle National Monument: This park, situated about 54 miles south of Flagstaff, was designated as one of America’s first national monuments by President Theodore Roosevelt on Dec. 8, 1906. The “castle” is a multi-level, Native American cliff dwelling with 45 to 50 rooms. It is considered to be one of the best preserved cliff dwellings. http://www.nps.gov/moca/index.htm
— Monument Valley: Located in northeast corner of the state near the border with Utah and New Mexico, Monument Valley is one of the most scenic areas in the Southwest and contains majestic red rock monoliths that are often used as backdrops for movies and commercials.http://www.americansouthwest.net/utah/monument_valley/
— Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff: This museum’s award-winning, permanent anthropology exhibit documents 12,000 years of Native American tribal life on the Colorado Plateau. The Hopi, Navajo and Zuni are among the tribes featured. The museum also has frequent, two-day festivals that feature the music, dance and artwork of Native American tribes. These include annual Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture, June 30-July 1; and the annual Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture, Aug. 4-5. https://musnaz.org.
— Petrified Forest National Park: While best known for its petrified, the park also has a significant collection of pre-Colombian Indian petroglyphs, which feature numerous human and animal forms. The park also has a 600- to 700-year-old Anasazi pueblo village containing over 100 rooms and kivas. Fossils have also been discovered in the park, which date back nearly 200 million years. https://www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm
— Riordan Mansion in Flagstaff: Timothy and Michael Riordan developed the Arizona Lumber and Timber Company and used the railroad to market their lumber. Their family’s 13,000-square foot mansion, built in 1904 in the Arts and Crafts style, is now a museum. The house is fully furnished with original Riordan family furnishings, including Harvey Ellis furniture and the family’s original dishes. Special events take place periodically at the mansion, including the Arizona Rough Riders living history presentation on the Spanish American War on Aug. 11.Dressed in authentic period clothing, the Rough Riders, and their ladies, will carry 100–year–old weapons for the public’s examination. Visitors can learn about specifics of this tumultuous era, the war and its effects, as well as the social motives of turn of the century America. https://azstateparks.com/riordan-mansion/about-the-mansion/riordan-mansion
— Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument: This park, located roughly 30 minutes from Flagstaff, features a crater created the eruption of a volcano. Park attractions also include astronomy presentations courtesy of park staff and volunteers. Summer night sky events are scheduled for July 7 and Aug. 11 and include constellation tours and telescope viewing. http://www.nps.gov/sucr/index.htm
— Walnut Canyon National Monument: This monument, located just 12 miles east of Flagstaff, has some of the best preserved Native American cliff dwellings in Arizona. It’s very highly rated by travelers on TripAdvisor.com, many of whom also offer words of caution about the trail. “The walk there is a bit scary, but definitely worth it,” writes one traveler. “Incredible vistas,” writes another, while another says it’s one of their favorite national monuments and a place they visit again and again. http://www.nps.gov/waca/index.htm
— Wupatki National Monument: This park’s attractions include an ancient 100-room Native American “pueblo” with a community room and ballcourt. Archaeologists believe the settlement was occupied between 1120 and 1200. http://www.nps.gov/wupa/index.htm
For more information on places to visit in Northern Arizona as well as the latest trends involving RV parks, campgrounds and resorts in Arizona, please contact Jo Ann Mickelson at (623) 551-1577 and visit www.gocampinginarizona.com.