If you’ve never been to Arizona, you probably have some preconceived notions about the so-called Copper State: It’s full of sweeping deserts, saguaro cacti, and red rock formations. And while that’s certainly true for some parts of the state—Tucson, for example, which I’ve visited previously—there’s so much more to Arizona.
When Nicole and I realized we’d be passing through Flagstaff on our way to the Grand Canyon, I contacted my friend Matt. Though we hadn’t seen each other since high school, he and his wife, Dani, were able to suggest all sorts of activities in Flagstaff, thanks to the wonder of Facebook: off-roading, hiking, even exploring caves.
As we drove into Flagstaff, we immediately noticed that it felt much different from the parts of Arizona we’d already visited. It’s a college town. It seems a little quirky. And its northern Arizona setting means that “Flag” is less desert and more mountains—namely, the San Francisco Peaks and Humphrey’s Peak, the highest mountain in Arizona.
Because we had just a few hours, we chose to drive up part of the latter to take in the view—and the fall foliage. Yes, that’s another surprise about Arizona: This classic Southwestern state still has seasons. And that’s no more evident than in Flagstaff’s aspens, which were turning a vibrant shade of yellow at the time of our trip. This area of the state also gets a lot of snow, making it a fun ski destination for Arizonans.
Even though we only spent an afternoon in Flagstaff, it really struck a chord with me. I can’t wait to go back. But I think I’ll wait until summer—I get enough snow in Boston.