Flagstaff Buzz: Information and nearby attractions for Flagstaff

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"Flagstaff"

The city of Flagstaff stands as the gateway to multiple nearby national parks and monuments such as Sunset Crater National Monument, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, Grand Canyon National Park and the Petrified Forest National Park. The town is also home to Northern Arizona University, which began on September 11, 1899 as Northern Arizona Normal School. The first class consisted of 23 students and one professor.
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The prominent feature in the Flagstaff area is the San Francisco Peaks. In fact, students at Northern Arizona University are told to the use the peaks as a tool for navigating the campus. The upper reaches of the San Francisco Peaks including Humphreys Peak are located within the Kachina Peaks Wilderness.

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The Kachina Peaks Wilderness, located within the Coconino National Forest, is a popular hiking spot. This is truly a place to find wilderness solitude among the almost 19,000 acres that are not traversed by roads.

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Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, established in 1930, encompasses more than 3,000 acres of land surrounded by the Coconino National Forest. The park was created as way to preserve the area’s unique geologic formations. In addition to the 1,000-foot volcano, the area within the park has rivers of hardened lava flows as well as hills of cinders.

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Some interesting Sunset Crater facts: The crater’s height is 1,000 feet; The diameter at its base is 1 mile; The diameter at its top is 2,250 feet from rim to rim; The depth of the crater is 300 feet.

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Hills of cinders are just one of the things you will see at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

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The “otherworldly” appearance also played a significant role in the space program. The Sunset Crater Volcano region was used to train the Apollo astronauts during the 1960’s. The area was used to simulate the “Sea of Tranquility” (the landing site for Apollo 11) as well as provide an environment that would be similar to the moon. A plywood replica of a lunar module was constructed on the north side of the lava flow.

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The Bonito Lava Flow is one of the first points of interest in the park.The formation was created when the Bonito Flow was unable to find an outlet in the surrounding cinder cones as it squeezed up from the base of the crater.

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A scenic fall landscape in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness, located approximately 6 miles north of Flagstaff. The area is named for the Hopi gods or Kachinas whom that culture's mythology tells us live here for part of every year.

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A view near Flagstaff. Photo courtesy of April Barci.

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Colorful wildflowers blanket a meadow near the Mormon Lake area. The San Francisco Peaks appear on the horizon. The peaks rise to over 12,000 feet and are often visible from more than 100 miles away.

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President Calvin Coolidge established Wupatki National Monument in 1924. The park was primarily developed as a way to preserve the Citadel and Wupatki pueblos. However, the move also helped to preserve a number of lesser-known ruins that are scattered throughout the park. Monument boundaries have been adjusted several times since the monument’s inception as a way to include additional pueblos and other archeological resources. Today, the monument encompasses more than 35,000 acres.

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The Wupatki Pueblo is the crown jewel of the ruins located within the park. Wupatki is a 100-room pueblo that includes a tower, community room and ceremonial ball court. Sophisticated stonework rose to four stories. Major building on the pueblo began in 1120 and ended in approximately 1195.

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The ballcourt at Wupatki Pueblo.One of the first stops you will want to make while at Wupatki Pueblo is the Visitor Center where you can obtain a brochure – the Wupatki Pueblo Trail Guide – that will allow you to complete a self-guided tour of the pueblo.

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The Lomaki Pueblo at Wupatki National Monument.Fine stonework garnered the pueblo its name, which means “beautiful house” in the Hopi language. The Anasazi built this two-story structure in approximately 1192. It is believed the 9-room pueblo housed two to four families.

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The Wukoki Pueblo at Wupatki National Monument.The Wukoki Pueblo stands as sentinel overlooking a colorful but barren landscape. The three-story structure likely included a total of six or seven rooms that provided a home to two or three families. The open area adjacent to the tower was most likely a plaza used for daily activities.

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