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Top Five Destinations of Flagstaff

I shouldn’t wonder why I didn’t find my love of the outdoors while I was a Boy Scout. Most of my memories involve either missing home (because my good friends weren’t a part of my troop), peeing on things with a bunch of other boys, only taking one dump for a week while at summer camp and staying up all night huddled by a fire by myself at a winter camp because it was snowy, well below freezing and I didn’t have the proper equipment. I somehow found that love through hanging out with my friends, my parents and eventually striking out on my own into the great outdoors. Every once in a while I think about going back to the Boy Scouts, but their policy on gay scouts and leaders just sticks in my craw.

I mention my Boy Scout memories because one of the most vivid memories I had was my mom going with my troop on one of our excursions. (My mom was a stay at home mom, so she was often participating, driving or attending various childhood events.) This excursion was my first encounter with a cave, and all I remember the whole trip was worrying about her safety. It was wet, muddy and slick and I had much more trouble than my mom did to be honest. Because of that, I didn’t go near a cave for many years after that. Then, one day, some friends invited me to go caving in Colorado and I figured, sure, why not. After patrolling around, squeezing through a few tight spaces and slithering on my stomach, I realized that there were no worries as long as I had a good headlamp and backup. So, now when I see the chance to explore a cave, I kind of get excited, like for the first of these five things to do in Flagstaff.

Explore Lava River Cave

flag3I think the words “mile long lava tube” may be four of the coolest words to put together, assuming the lava isn’t molten at the time. (Rim shot.) Even in the hottest parts of summer, Lava River Cave tends to stay around 35 degrees Fahrenheit just inside the entrance.

Tour Lowell Observatory

The Lowell Observatory is over 100 years old and is the location where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. Today, there is a telescope trained on the sun and at night, you can check out Saturn and star clusters, weather permitting.

Hike around Wupatki National Monument

There are five prehistoric pueblos in the Wupatki National Monument. All trails are half a mile long or less, so you can see all five with less than four miles on your hiking boots. If you want a little more flair, there are guided hikes scheduled daily through the summer.

Grab a beer at Beaver Street Brewery

The Beaver Street Brewery has two Great American Beer Festival medal winning beers on tap, but the one that gets my curiosity going is the Bramble Berry Brew. That’s probably because raspberry is one of my favorite flavors. Hopefully they’ll have raspberry cobbler available for dessert when I visit.

Check out cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument

The Island Trail at the Walnut Canyon National Monument seems like a great way to get a bit of exercise while learning a little. The mile long trail sounds like it is a bear to get back out of the canyon, but seeing 25 cliff dwelling rooms would be worth it.

Any suggestions for things that I missed? Any additional recommendations for the area? Just let me know in the comments.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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