Great Western Cities ‘On-the-Air’ tour: Flagstaff, Arizona

The sixth in this series.

Flagstaff, Arizona is one “amazing” city. I say that because each and every time I visit I continue to be awed. There is just something about Flagstaff.

A mountain community where two major highways cross (Interstates 17 and 40), Flagstaff is situated south of the Grand Canyon’s south rim at an elevation of 6,910 feet above sea level.

Home to Northern Arizona University, the town and its environs have a real “down-home” or “homey” and rustic feel. San Francisco Peaks loom in the background. Ponderosa Pine trees blanket the area and there is the unmistakable scent of pine wafting in the air, seemingly ever-present no matter where in town one might be. I’m not saying other places noted for their pine trees don’t likewise share this same characteristic but, frankly, Flagstaff wouldn’t be Flagstaff without it, if you get my drift.

San Francisco Peaks seen from east of Flagstaff, Arizona
San Francisco Peaks seen from east of Flagstaff, Arizona

And speaking of drifts, I was driving in the area once right after it had snowed and I distinctly remember how the wind-blown drifts had kept me very vigilant. It got scary at times never knowing from one moment to the next if I was going to be caught in one, of the drifts, that is. One of those white-knuckle moments if ever there was one.

Interestingly, a sound I associate with the town itself is that of an Amtrak train whistle as it was during one of my earlier visits and right around sun up that I could hear that quite distinctive, yet melodic- and easy-on-the-ears-sounding train horn which seemed just to permeate through town.

Located not far away and to the south is an area known for its red rock cliffs and, well, rock outcroppings: Sedona. Majestic would be the way I would describe it, a magnet for both artist and art lover alike. And, if you are into bridges, just outside of town there is a high one spanning the popular Oak Creek. The whole area is where in my opinion the rugged beauty of the American West is displayed in all its glory.

With such unparalleled and captivating scenery, there is only one thing I can think of to top even that, that is, if such could be topped: the local air. Personally, I am hard-pressed to think of other places where air is better.

Along the route of the former Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway) and, of course, on a now famous Route 66 (immortalized in song and popularized in a made-for-T.V. hit series of the same name), in many, make that, most respects Flagstaff, Arizona is terra haute to the hilt.

– Alan Kandel