Located in the high country mountains of northern Arizona, Flagstaff is not the Arizona experience you may expect.
At 7,000 feet elevation, temperatures rarely exceed 90 degrees in the summer, fall brings a brilliant change of color, winter snowfall averages 108 inches and spring bursts with blossoms. The Flagstaff area got its start in 1876 with a pioneer legacy that centers on ranching, lumber mills and the railroad. Many of the buildings in Flagstaff’s historic downtown area date to the early 1900’s and are used today as stores, galleries, hotels and restaurants.
Although Flagstaff became an incorporated town in 1894, the modern history really dates back to 1876 when settlers passing through honored the nation’s centennial by raising an American flag up a pine tree. Their “flag staff” became a landmark for those who followed, and eventually became the town’s namesake. The western expansion of the railroad in the 1880s attracted merchants and saloonkeepers to set up shop for the railroad workers and lumbermen. Within a couple of years, Flagstaff was a thriving town of railroad, lumber and ranching industries. Early families such as the Riordans (lumber) and Babbitts (ranching) have descendants who still live and work in Flagstaff today.
Route 66 is synonymous with the classic American road trip, and that carefree spirit is still alive in Flagstaff today.
When Route 66 became a highway in 1921, Flagstaff was established as a popular stop on the iconic highway. Famous musical acts making their way to Los Angeles would stop at the Museum Club for a gig, and the Eagles’ classic “Take it Easy” was written by musician Jackson Browne after he found himself “standing on the corner in Flagstaff, Arizona” when traveling Route 66 to California. Winslow, Arizona was easier to sing and made the final lyrics, but Route 66 nostalgia is abundant around Flagstaff. Construction of the modern interstate may have relegated it to “Historic Route 66,” but modern travelers can still enjoy that iconic experience.