Why not take a flight with H5 Charter to Flagstaff this summer and get out of this heat?
Lowell Observatory was founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell, a wealthy Bostonian with a keen interest in astronomy. The original 24-inch telescope was built in Boston and shipped to Flagstaff. Today, the scope no longer is used for research but to educate the 70,000 people who visit the observatory every year.
Lowell devoted his time and fortune to the search for Planet X, one that had been theorized to exist beyond Neptune, the eighth planet in our solar system. Percival Lowell died in 1913. His search finally bore fruit in 1930 when Pluto was discovered.
Details: 1400 W. Mars Hill Road, 928-774-3358, lowell.edu
Skiers and snowboarders flock here in winter to take advantage of 40 trails served by four lifts and two surface conveyors. There also is a terrain park, plus two lodges where you can warm up and get food and drinks. Rental gear and lessons are available, and the resort has snowmaking capability. In summer and fall, visitors can take a scenic chairlift ride to 11,500 feet, where views extend to Grand Canyon on clear days.
Details: 14 miles northwest of Flagstaff off U.S. 180, 928-779-1951
Meteor Crater, before it became a tourist attraction, was simply a curious indentation in the earth amid the rangeland between Flagstaff and Winslow. There was speculation that it was caused by volcanic activity.
But in 1903, Daniel Barringer, a Philadelphia mining engineer, was convinced the impact was caused by a meteor and was further convinced the meteor deposited large amounts of iron into the ground. He took out a mining claim. Mining proved fruitless and ended in 1929 after scientists determined the meteor likely vaporized on impact. The crater became a tourist attraction in the 1940s.
Visitors can explore the informative museum as well as see the crater.
Details: About 45 miles east of Flagstaff off Interstate 40, 928-289-5898, meteorcrater.com
Museum of Northern Arizona
The museum showcases Native American artifacts and natural history specimens from the Colorado Plateau. Displays include Navajo rugs, abstract art, Hopi kachinas, Zuni jewelry and dinosaurs.
The museum has four sections: biology, anthropology, geology and fine art. Exhibits change frequently, so check the website. A life-size replica of a dilophosaurus skeleton stands watch over real dinosaur bones in the anthropology area.
Also on display is a fragment of a Native American mural that was painted between 500 and 700 years ago. The people who study such things have called it “America’s Sistine Chapel” because of the skill of the artists who rendered it. The work, discovered in 1930, was found under a Spanish chapel in western New Mexico that had been destroyed in the 1700s.
Details: 3101 N. Fort Valley Road, 928-774-5213, musnaz.org,
Walnut Canyon National Monument
As you descend into Walnut Canyon, you travel centuries back in time. The ancient dwellings that cling to rocky canyon walls were built about 700 years ago by the Sinaguas, an ancient people with no fear of heights.
The Island Trail takes visitors 185 feet (down some 240 steps) into the canyon and loops past 25 cliff dwellings. Other rooms can be seen across the canyon.
Climbing the stairs will be a challenge for those not in good shape, but there are railings to grab and benches to rest on. The unable to navigate the steps can enjoy the view from the Rim Trail, where many dwellings can be seen.
Details: 10 miles southeast of Flagstaff off Interstate 40, 928-526-3367, nps.gov/waca
Wupatki-Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Wupatki and neighboring Sunset Crater Volcano national monuments encompass a great deal scenery and history. The features of both parks can be seen during a scenic drive along a paved loop road. That’s the Painted Desert in the distance.
About nine centuries ago, a volcano exploded, burying the landscape under lava and cinders. Even after 900 years, the lava looks as if it could flow again at almost any time. The Lava Flow Trail (1 mile round-trip) loops amid flows and cinders. At the far end of the loop, enjoy a view at the foot of the cinder cone, which almost looks like black sand from a tropical beach.
The main feature at Wupatki is Wupatki Pueblo, a 100-room, four-story structure built about 900 years ago from chunks of sandstone, limestone and basalt. Archaeologists say the inhabitants, ancestors of today’s Hopi, Zuni and Navajo people, abandoned the area about 700 years ago. Several smaller nearby structures, include a large room (perhaps a meeting area) and a well-preserved ball court. Check out the blowhole at the end of the walkway. This natural opening in the ground blows cool air up out of the Earth.
Arboretum at Flagstaff
Spread across 200 acres and sheltered by towering pines, the arboretum is a serene getaway. There are more than 2,500 species of plants, most divided into themed areas such as Butterfly Garden, Shade Garden and Woodlands.
Abundance captures you, the sheer diversity of plant life spilling from beds and crowding pathways. A gentle shagginess permeates the arboretum. Gardens flow from one to the next and plantings blend in a relaxed setting. Gravel paths wind through the forest.
The arboretum originally was the home, built in the late 1960s, of Frances McAllister. In 1981, she donated the land and created an endowment to preserve the swath of forest.
Details: 4001 S. Woody Mountain Road, 928-774-1442, thearb.org
Riordan Mansion State Historic Park
This 40-room, 13,000-square-foot mansion, built in 1904, was the home of lumber barons Timothy and Michael Riordan. The bachelor brothers married the Metz sisters, Caroline and Elizabeth, and one family lived in one side of the estate; the other family occupied the mirroring side. A common recreation room joined the two domiciles.
When it was built, the mansion, which resembles a deluxe oversize log cabin, was quite modern. It had hot and cold water, electric heat, a telephone and an early version of a refrigerator. The home was occupied until the 1980s, when the family donated it and its contents to the state.
Designed by Charles Whittlesey, the home is a good example of the American Arts and Crafts style. Whittlesey also designed El Tovar Hotel on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.
Tours are given hourly. Arrive early to explore the grounds.
Details: 409 W. Riordan Road, 928-779-4395, azstateparks.com/Parks/RIMA
Things To Do: Flagsta
Wupatki-Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument