It’s been called the gateway to the Grand Canyon and with good reason. Flagstaff, Arizona, is the starting point for many a special tour of this spectacular national park. At only 78 miles from the South Rim, the main access point to the canyon, Flagstaff, Arizona, is within easy day-trip distance, and a great base of operations for other area forays to noteworthy federal lands.
While it’s perfectly possible to drive yourself to the South Rim and back, it just might be a lot more fun to book a tour through Flagstaff-based operators. Air and land combination tours usually involve a drive to the canyon followed by a 30-minute chopper ride over some of the best scenery on offer. A popular alternative is a relaxing chug along the historic Grand Canyon Railroad in restored carriages; get a guided tour of the South Rim at the turn-around point, and a glimpse of the landscapes for which this region is famous as you ride the rails. For those interested in doing some guided hiking in the canyon or tackling a donkey ride down Bright Angel Trail, the most efficient solution is to make arrangements through tour companies based around the Grand Canyon, though you’ll need to drive yourself out to the start point.
With a day or more thus well-spent, return to Flagstaff and get the cultural scoop on the history of this intriguing region at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff. Here you’ll get a conscientiously curated introduction to the peoples who once populated both Flagstaff and the Colorado Plateau at large. Provided you have time to spare, consider visiting one or more of the three local national monuments run by the U.S. National Parks Service, which take in cliff dwellings, a lava field and an ancient pueblo between them. In other words: from geology to anthropology, the complete Grand Canyon package courtesy of atmospheric mountain city, Flagstaff.