Cinder Hills OHV Area — 13,500 acre OHV area. There is both open riding and miles of single track trails. Dispersed camping is allowed but there are no facilities such as water or restrooms. Map and info here: Arizona OHV Trails and Maps
Arizona Trail — Mountain biking, hiking, horseback — Mormon Lake section (passes through the event site)
Shopping Guide — loads of funky hippy shops, fantastic Native American art and jewelry, book stores, antique stores, outdoor shops, and much more
Macy’s and other coffee shops
It’s impossible to imagine Flagstaff without Macy’s, the hippie-esque coffee shop on Beaver Street just south of the railroad tracks. It feels like it’s been there forever, although it only opened in 1980. In a town blessed with lots of excellent coffee options, Macy’s is, if not unequalled, certainly unsurpassed. The triple latte is practically breakfast on its own—but don’t cheat yourself of their waffles, biscuits and gravy, or even the homemade granola. If you’re a tea drinker, you’ll find the offerings just as good as the coffee (that is, considering tea’s vast intrinsic inferiority). There’s superb people watching at Macy’s, too: everyone from suited businessmen to buffed bicyclists to ponytailed, VW-Combi-driving Deadheads straight out of the Whole Earth Catalog—the first one. Opens properly at 6:00 a.m. every day. Macy's, 14 S. Beaver Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Despite its location in a strip mall, the Campus Coffee Bean is another favorite, with easier parking than Macy’s and more room for larger groups. In addition to breakfast, they offer a full lunch menu. If you think you’re a hard-core coffee drinker, try the Hammerhead—three shots of espresso in a full cup of regular coffee. Also opens at 6:00 a.m. 1800 South Milton Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
It’s rare to peruse a restaurant’s dinner menu and exclaim out loud, repeatedly, “Oh wow.” Yet that happens every time we visit this loosely Latin-oriented restaurant on San Francisco Street in downtown Flagstaff. Generally I can look at a menu and decide what I want in 30 seconds flat. At Criollo I painfully reduce my initial selection of five or six possibilities (out of perhaps seven entrée choices) down to four, then three—at which point I usually wring my hands for several minutes. Pathetic.
The good news is, you won’t go wrong with any of them. Everything we’ve had (and during a three-day visit to town we’ve been known to eat dinner there three times) has been sublime. Even such prosaic fare as fajitas achieves transcendency, much less, for example, the Guajillo barbecued duck breast or mojo marinated pork tenderloin. The ingredients are all sourced as locally as possible, including Arizona beef. Finally, unlike many restaurants that do dinner well but fall down on dessert, Criollo keeps up the momentum all the way through. Simply put, we don’t know a better restaurant in the state, counting quality, imagination, service, and price. A mandatory stop. Criollo Latin Kitchen, 16 N. San Francisco Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
The Galaxy Diner
Imagine the perfect diner to front historic Route 66, and you’ll have the Galaxy nailed. The waitresses don’t ride roller skates, but that’s about the only period trick missing here. And it’s not just a recreation—the Galaxy has been around since the 1950s. Food quality varies (did diners in the 50s really have better?), but there’s plenty of it. On the other hand, the soda fountain creations are all well above average. 931 W. Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Flagstaff had microbreweries before they got chic. There aren’t any bad ones I know of. Beaver Street Brewery (11 S. Beaver Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86001) is excellent and usually crowded. The new and very large Lumberyard Brewing Company (5 S. San Francisco Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86001), just up the tracks, has a similar menu, probably because they're owned by the same family. For a more neighborhood-bar experience, the Flagstaff Brewing Company (16 E. Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001), opened in 1994 in a 19th-century building right off Highway 66, is our low-key favorite and also the place to sample High Spirits' amazing single malt, Arizona whisky (finished in mesquite-smoked barrels). Despite my historical fascination with India Pale Ale I’m a little weary of the current mania for hops, hops, and more hops in American microbrews, but there’s a broad selection of alternatives here. Good pub food as well, and, at least the last time we were there, absolutely dynamite music. Muddy Waters was on when we left. The menu says it all: “Beer like your mom used to make.”
Teddy Roosevelt stayed here. Zane Grey wrote a book here and included it in the plot; his description enabled the new owners to find a fireplace that had been walled over, 80 years afterwards. The Weatherford, built in 1897, still has a few rooms with shared baths if you’d like the full Old West experience, but others with ensuite bathrooms (some boasting clawfoot tubs) are also available. The entire place comprises just 11 rooms, so book early. Downstairs is a good restaurant and a bar; on the third floor is the huge Zane Gray ballroom with a balcony overlooking downtown Flagstaff. Weatherford, 23 N. Leroux Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
The Monte Vista
Funky would be the single adjective to label this 86-year-old, 50-room downtown hotel, although down-at-the-heel might do as well—some complacency shows in worn plumbing fixtures and old paint here and there. Still, there’s off-the-street parking, a short walk to everything of interest in downtown, and a fine downstairs bar. Monte Vista, 100 N. San Francisco Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
During our last stay at this sprawling, 240-room hotel on the east end of Flagstaff, we heard at least a half-dozen foreign languages—the place seems to be a magnet for European travelers. It’s also a comfortable place to stay, with enormous rooms that appear to have been furnished from the leavings of some Middle-Eastern oil potentate’s estate—lots of antique-white furniture, gold-framed mirrors, and heavy drapes. Little America, 2515 East Butler Avenue Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
Discounted room blocks at national hotel chains
We have secured a block of rooms in southern Flagstaff (near the Lake Mary Road) at the Courtyard Marriott (928) 774-5800 at the rate of $109. Please reference Overland Expo when you call or book online:http://cwp.marriott.com/flgcy/overland
Another discounted block of rooms is also being held at the Radisson Woodlands hotel. You can call (928) 773-8888, or go to www.radisson.com/overlandexpo for the discounted rate of $109.00 + tax per night. (normally $164).
Closer to Mormon Lake
Arizona Mountain Inn is on the road to Mormon Lake, and boasts “Tudor style” cabins - and a huge hogan that accommodates 16 people.
Northern Arizona and the Four Corners region are a world-class destination, home to the Grand Canyon, the Hopi and Navajo Nations, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the Colorado River, dozens of parks and monuments—there are just too many to list.
Here are some favorite overland routes around and to Northern Arizona.
Backroads around the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
One of our favorite routes starts at the historic Cliff Dweller's Lodge. Head west on 89A, then south on Buffalo Ranch Road (FS 8910) across the breathtaking plains of House Rock Valley to the rim anywhere near Buck Farm Point - stunning views, and you can camp where you like (just don't sleepwalk). Point Sublime, 20 miles west of the North Rim visitor's center, is another superb spot with developed campsites, and the 60-mile dirt drive from Highway 389 to Toroweap campground is rewarded with a vertiginous view over Lava Falls rapids on the Colorado River, which you can hear from 3,000 feet up.
Backroads around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
By suggestion of a reader, the old Route 66 (B-40) from Kingman to Peach Springs to Seligman is a good detour for bikes and trucks. Don't miss the Hackberry General Store (you'd be hard-presssed to), chockablock with historic Route 66 memorabilia.
Overlanding Around Mormon Lake
Mark Ordway has compiled some great routes for us. Please check them out on our Overlanding page.
Flagstaff sits just north of the intersection of Interstates 40 and 17 in northern Arizona, the gateway to the Grand Canyon and Four Corners region, the Navajo and Hopi Nations, and some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.
Driving times to Flagstaff:
Los Angeles via I-15 to I-40: 7 hours
Denver via I-25 to I-40: 11 hours
Salt Lake City via I-15 to Page: 8 hours
Albuquerque via I-40: 4.5 hours
Phoenix via I-17: 2 hours
Access to Mormon Lake from downtown Flagstaff is not obvious. Heading south on Milton Road (the main north/south road through town), you need to turn right on Forest Meadows road just before the I-40 intersection, then left on Beulah, to access Lake Mary Road. Lake Mary Road has an absurdly low 50 mph speed limit, and as a result a lot of law enforcement looking for easy marks. Use caution. You’ll reach Mormon Lake Lodge a little faster if you go past the first turnoff to Mormon Lake, on the north side of the lake, and instead take the second road on the south side. Either will get you there, however.
If your route takes you north from Phoenix on I-17, you can take a scenic dirt road shortcut to Mormon Lake by turning at Munds Park and taking the main road east through the little hamlet. It joins Forest Service Road 700 and then FSR 240. When you reach the paved Mormon Lake Road, turn south. Along the Forest Service roads are numerous spots to dry camp for free. If you like a little privacy and quiet these would be a good alternative to the camping provided at the Expo, or the official FS campgrounds. You’ll still be just minutes from the event.
Closest to the Expo (northwest, and within 10 - 20 minutes) are:
Dairy Springs (30 sites)
Double Springs (15 sites) campgrounds
A little farther away are Pinegrove (46 sites), and Ashurst Lake/Forked Pine (50 sites).
For fees and other information, see the chart here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/coconino/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5320191&width=full
Nearly the entire forest also has dry dispersed backcountry camping along most Forest Roads. FR 125 and FR 240 would be good bets (free, no permit needed, just comply with all fire regulations and your stay cannot be longer than 2 weeks in any one place)
Other useful links:
Coconino National Forest website, Flagstaff Ranger District: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/coconino/home
Follow Coconino National Forest's latest road and fire conditions on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/CoconinoNF