Nestled between the base of the San Francisco Peaks, the Colorado Plateau, and a forest of ponderosa pines, Flagstaff is the largest city in northern Arizona. Flagstaff has one of the highest elevations in the country. With a population of more than 59,000 in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Flagstaff serves as the cultural center for the northern part of the state.
Because of its desert location, Flagstaff has dedicated many resources to a variety of environmental issues. City programs include renewable energy, recycling, sustainable building, water conservation and use of rain barrels.
Due to its proximity to Grand Canyon National Park and historic Route 66, the city maintains a bustling tourism industry and is home to quite a few outdoor and adventure businesses. Downtown Flagstaff houses numerous hotel and restaurant chains, as well as two historic hotels, the Weatherford Hotel and the Hotel Monte Vista.
Northern Arizona University is the largest employer in the city, hosting many professional athletes year-round in its High Altitude Sports Training Center. Athletes choose Flagstaff for its altitude, climate, and facilities.
The city is also home to the Lowell Observatory. The observatory is currently working with the Discovery Channel on a $30 million project to build the Discovery Channel Telescope, a telescope with advanced optical capabilities.
Major manufacturers in Flagstaff include W.L. Gore and Associates, the makers of Gore-Tex, Nestle Purina PetCare, SCA Tissue, a leading tissue paper manufacturer and JoyCone, which manufactures ice cream cones. Walgreens also operates a distribution center in Flagstaff.
Downtown Flagstaff centers around Route 66 and Milton Road. It's a walkable mix of quirky shops, stores, restaurants and historic hotels. Heritage Square downtown features an outdoor amphitheater with live performances. Mars Hill, site of the Lowell Observatory, is just west of downtown. Further south on Milton Road are chain hotels and shopping centers. East Flagstaff, along Route 66, is the commercial and industrial side of town, as well as the location for older neighborhoods and the Flagstaff Mall & The Marketplace, the town's premier retailing center.
The main campus of Northern Arizona University is located in Flagstaff, serving a student population of about 21,000 and playing a key role in the city's economy. While the university focuses on undergraduate education, it also offers a wide range of environment-related graduate programs and research opportunities, such as forest health and bioterrorism.
Flagstaff is a popular spot for fans of winter sports like skiing and showshoeing and, in warm weather, the city attracts backpackers, campers, rock climbers and mountain bikers from all over the Southwest. Flagstaff boasts many city and county parks, including the 33-mile Flagstaff Urban Trails System for cycling, hiking, jogging and cross-country skiing in town. Among the spectacular array of outdoor parks in and around Flagstaff are:
Flagstaff has a thriving arts scene where visitors can find unique clothing, jewelry, and art. Popular shopping spots include: The Artists Gallery, Flagstaff Mall, Aspen Place at the Sawmill, and the Coconino Center for the Arts.
Flagstaff's major daily newspaper is the Arizona Daily Sun. The Lumberjack, Northern Arizona University's weekly newspaper, also covers city news. Other Flagstaff weeklies and monthlies include: Flagstaff Live, the Navajo Hopi Observer, Mountain Living Magazine, and The Noise.
The city has two local television stations: KNAZ-2 (NBC) and KFPH-13 (TeleFutura).