Road trips are a fun and budget-friendly way to see some great Arizona sights, but as a student sometimes planning road trips and traveling long distances just isn’t feasible.
Luckily, Flagstaff has a variety of National Parks and secret hideaways all within driving distance of campus for a fun filled day-trip! Check out this Lumberjack-approved list of spots you can visit around Flagstaff for a fun weekend road trip.
If you’re looking for a mini-getaway, Walnut Canyon is only 12 miles from campus, or a short 20 minute drive!
Hours of operation are 9:00 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily except for Christmas day, so there’s plenty of time for year-round fun — admission is $15 per person and the pass is good for seven days. The canyon walls house remnants of fossils from ancient seas and the park features different hiking trails to view these amazing sights from atop a massive plateau.
The Island Trail takes you across the canyon side where you an observe up close old rooms built into the canyon side from the Sinagua people. The Rim Trail goes through a pine forest and features overlooks to gaze upon the depths of the cliff sides.
Both of these trails are rated as easy and level so Walnut Canyon is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a more relaxing adventure.
Petrified Forest National Park
The Petrified Forest National Park is around 90 minutes from campus and it is most certainly worth the trip! It is open most days from 8 A.M. to 7 P.M. and a pass is only twenty dollars per vehicle and lasts for seven days.
Driving through the Petrified Forest you’ll get to see amazing fossils of ancient redwoods, vast wildlife and the beautiful Painted Desert. Along the way, there are stops for gorgeous photo-ops and museums to learn about the park’s history and see fossils of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals found in the park.
Along with the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest is something you have to see in person to truly experience. If you want to drive around, hike, and learn new things the Petrified Forest is a great place for a weekend visit.
Grand Canyon National Park
It’s popular for a reason! One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the canyon is approximately 90 minutes from campus!
The park is open all day daily for only twenty dollars a vehicle. Whether you want to hike, observe look out points, visit the visitor and information centers, go rafting, or take photos this place offers something for almost anyone. The canyon offers many different sights year round from the river flowing after rainfall in the summer to the snow covered cliffs around fall in winter — there isn’t a bad time to visit!
#LumberjackTip Reservations are recommend for activities such as guided tours and rafting. The Grand Canyon can provide a day of beauty and fun in the state it calls home and all just a short road trip from NAU.
Wupatki National Monument
If you’re looking for more history and Arizona landscapes, Wupatki National Monument might just be the trip for you.
Just 23 miles (or 33 minutes) from campus you can find this ancestral village where Native American people raised families, traded goods, farmed the land, and just overall thrived.
This monument is open daily from sunrise to sunset and has a visitors center with guided tours so you can get the most out of your visit. It’s just $20 per vehicle to enter the national monument and no permit is necessary for this trip!
Sunset Crater Volcano
If you’re in the mood for a quick jaunt off-campus, another nearby monument is Sunset Crater Volcano.
This geologic cinder cone was created in 1085 when a volcanic eruption changed the landscape of northern Arizona and left us with this amazing sight.
Just 33 minutes from campus, you can enter into the park for $25 per vehicle and visit daily from sunrise to sunset. Campsites nearby at the Bonito Campground offer great views of the pines and peaks while being nestled just next to the crater. Bring your phone for this one, your friends wont believe you’re standing in an old volcanic site!
Lake Mary isn’t a national park — — but if you’re looking to escape into nature, it’s a short drive from campus to Lake Mary.
Lake Mary is located along Lake Mary Rd and only about 12 miles away, a ten to fifteen minute drive from campus. This Flagstaff-favorite is almost always open for camping, boating, fishing, hiking and other activities! Some places are free to visit but if you want to reserve a camping spot its is only nine dollars per vehicle.
The large lake can accommodate motor boats and jet skis as there is no motor size limit. You can start your day off with a hike, then a picnic in one of the many available areas. Enjoy swimming, boating or finishing in the lake and finish by camping out surrounded by the beautiful trees and stars! Lake Mary is a great place for nice weekend getaway close to home.
Whether you’re in the mood for a quick afternoon ride or al all day adventure, Flagstaff has someplace for anyone to enjoy! Pack your lunch, listen to your favorite @nausocialmedia playlist on Spotify, and have your camera ready — its time to #AdventureOn!