There are few places in Arizona where you can get all the seasons. Flagstaff is probably the best one of those places. Home to Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff is a great little college town and the best all season destination in Arizona. Phoenicians know it's the best kept secret in Arizona.
We recently visited Flagstaff for its winter amenities. It has been a bit warm for early January, but that didn't stop us from downhill skiing at 9,000 feet. Well, at least some of the family did some skiing. I'm a wimp and couldn't even complete a lesson. Look at my son striking a cool skier pose after only one lesson:
For most of you who are cursing the snow right now, I'm almost embarrassed to say most of the snow at Snowbowl this week was artificially made. However, based on the number of foreign tourists, I'm pretty sure Snowbowl is one of the best skiing locations in Arizona. How many states can boast the warmest winter temperatures and awesome snow activities about 2 hours north of the swimming pools?
We also managed to find a little snow for sledding. Although they weren't open this trip, there are dedicated cross-country and sledding facilities that we enjoyed a couple of years ago when the weather was more characteristic and the snow was deep.
The best part of Flagstaff is that it is a great year-round destination, especially for Phoenicians. In the summer this is one of the best places to escape the oppressive heat. The temperatures in the mountains are usually 80-85 degrees in the dog days of summer. The smell of pine is in the air and the hiking is amazing. It's still a "dry heat" in Flagstaff so the humidity is low too. Most people think Arizona is a great place to live because of the warm desert temperatures in Phoenix, but we know it's because we can experience winter and summer temperatures in the same day, at least in the winter months.
In addition to the weather, Flagstaff is a cool place to visit if you want some authentic Route 66 motels and history. It's a huge railroad town, so be careful where you stay. Years ago I made the mistake of staying in a nice hotel in the wrong part of town. I listened to freight trains going by with whistles blowing every 15 minutes. Don't worry, there are plenty of other places to stay without the trains outside of your window.
Flagstaff is the place where "we're-not-sure-what-it-is-but-it's-not-a-planet" Pluto was discovered. You can still visit Lowell Observatory and see the stars and some cool astronomy history. It was a little cold for us thin blooded desert dwellers, but it was worth the drive up the mountain at night.
The best part of Flagstaff? It's the location. Yesterday we came back home to 70 degrees just in time to watch non-stop coverage of the impending blizzard that is looming over most of the country. (Sorry, I just couldn't help it.)
Stay warm and dry my friends.