From the stunning red rocks of Sedona to the depths of the Grand Canyon—one of the natural wonders of the world—Northern Arizona is filled with geological marvels and small towns to explore, and historic locales and archeological destinations to visit. In addition to Sedona and the Grand Canyon, the area comprises places such as Cottonwood & Cornville, Jerome, Prescott and Flagstaff. The weather can vary based on your altitude—summer days heat up though the evenings can still be cool enough to require a light sweater, and winters see the areas often blanketed in snow. Visitors flock during the summers to explore festivals, outdoor pursuits and ice cream cones, while the winter draws those to Arizona Snowbowl, a ski resort 7 miles north of Flagstaff.
Everyone from historians to foodies to those interested in New Age pursuits will find a place to love in Northern Arizona. Historical sites such as Montezuma Castle National Monument and Tuzigoot Monument offer a glimpse into past civilizations, while the tarot readers in Sedona offer a hopeful look into the future. Flagstaff has the famous Courthouse Plaza and Whiskey Row, while also being an up-and-coming foodie destination—as well as the home of Northern Arizona University. Most of the cities and towns sport a small-town charm, with a nod to history and an emerging modern edge, usually in the form of new, hip restaurants.
Most visitors take in the sweeping vistas at the 1-mile deep Grand Canyon from the South Rim, but those who are more adventurous often also choose to hike or ride a mule down the paths, or take a river trip through the canyon on the Colorado River. Flagstaff is home to Lowell Observatory (where Pluto was discovered!), Meteor Crater and Arizona Snowbowl. The historic town of Jerome is not only known as “America’s Most Vertical City” but the “Largest Ghost Town in America.” Once a copper mining town, it looks as it did almost 100 years ago. Take a haunted tour and then shake off your chills at the Jerome Winery. Plan a visit to Prescott during the World’s Oldest Rodeo and Prescott Frontier Days, while a stop in Sedona should include a tour of vortexes, a Pink Jeep adventure and a hike.
In addition to stopping at each city or town, explore Northern Arizona aboard the Grand Canyon Railway. A full-day excursion, the train leaves from Williams (about 30 miles west of Flagstaff) and travels north to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, returning later that afternoon. The Grand Canyon Railway has been running since 1901, and the journey is made in a restored car. And a side journey from Sedona includes Oak Creek Canyon and Slide Rock, a rock carved by flowing water that forms a natural water slide. In Flagstaff, head slightly north to hike Humphreys Peak, one of the scenic peaks among the San Francisco Peaks, and the highest elevation in Arizona at 12,633 feet.