Editor’s note: Flagstaff summers are unique in Arizona: They are not only perfect weather-wise but also full of things to do and see outdoors. Everyone has stories of their memorable Flagstaff summer moments, including Daily Sun reporters and editors. Below are some of their favorites; send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org and include a photo that we can post online.
MOVIES ON THE SQUARE
Everything that’s wonderful about Flagstaff in the summer comes together every Saturday night in Heritage Square at Movies on the Square. Here’s what I love about it: it’s multi-generational, it’s fun, it’s outside, it’s free, everyone in the family looks forward to it, the movies are great.
How perfectly lovely to lounge on blankets and pillows, enjoy live entertainment (music, dance, etc.), watch the kids frolic around the square, nosh on a slice of pizza from Fratelli’s and then settle in for a good movie as the sun goes down and the summer air cools.
For a parent, the movies are a joy, a relaxing family outing.
Tips: Try to arrive around 5 p.m. to stake out a good piece of real estate for your tiny blanket nation; bring water bottles, snacks and a few dollars for a treat from the food vendors; make sure everyone has a sweater; now sit back, smile and enjoy a perfect Flagstaff evening.
-- Abbie Gripman
The 2015 Flagstaff Pro Rodeo was one of the first stories I covered for the Daily Sun, just weeks after my graduation from college in the Valley.
After a behind-the-scenes tour of the grounds from Mike Felts, one of the rodeo organizers, I took a seat in the stands, thinking it was way too cold to actually be June.
The show, which actually was my first rodeo, encapsulated all it means to be a summer night: sitting out under the stadium lights as the sun set, parents of school-age children indulging themselves and their kids in snowcones or fried food from the many vendors and people of all ages and backgrounds coming together to cheer for the competitors.
This year, when it came time for me to cover the rodeo again, the perfect weather on a summer night symbolized a year in Flagstaff, and the unofficial kickoff of another northern Arizona summer.
-- Corina Vanek
EAST CLEAR CREEK
An hour east of Flagstaff on Interstate 40 just outside of Winslow lies East Clear Creek, East Clear Creek has long been the favorite swimming and fishing spot for the Bacon family.
Clear Creek has it all. The water is warmer than the snowmelt flowing through Oak Creek Canyon. The creek seems stocked with a range of fish that are happy to bite for even the most inexperienced anglers and the water flows slowly through a sandstone canyon perfect for cliff jumping.
Add in swallows who return each year to build their nests on the sandstone walls less than two feet above the water and a petroglyph panel that is easily accessible and in pristine condition, and you will have some sense of just how special this spot is.
The 60-mile drive makes a trip to the creek an adventure but means that it is close enough to not be stuck in the car for hours.
The creek is best experienced from some form of watercraft. We take everything from kayaks, standup paddleboards and a small fishing boat.
No summer is complete for our family without getaways to the creek.
-- Jake Bacon
Of all the fun summer festivals, none says “Flagstaff” quite like Hullabaloo.
I have to admit, Hullabaloo triggers a bit of nostalgia for me. I was just about to graduate from Northern Arizona University when I attended the final Tour de Fat at Wheeler Park. Hullabaloo boasts all the outrageous costumes, tricked-out bikes and refreshing brews of its spiritual predecessor, but adds a family friendly vibe.
Take the annual Hullabaloo bike parade: I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the beautiful June weather than with a parade of cyclists young and old peddling through downtown Flagstaff. Add some great local bands, deep-fried oreos, circus performers, drum circles, giant puppets, tutus and top hats and it’s clear the folks here know how to have a good time.
But what really gave the seventh annual Hullabaloo the Flagstaff vibe was the way it brought people together to raise more than $11,000 for local charities. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what this town is all about.
-- Michelle McManimon
FOURTH OF JULY PARADE
There’s watching a Fourth of July parade.
And there’s marching in the parade.
And then there’s driving a parade vehicle.
I’ve done the last for the past 20 years in the Chamber’s Flagstaff parade. It’s like what the pace motorcyclist in the Tour de France experiences, only the crowds are calling out in English, not French. But both of us get to run the red lights at intersections when the “flics” are holding back cross-traffic.
Each year, the driving lane gets narrower and my multi-tasking behind the wheel gets more complicated. Our theme is the Daily Sun Citizens and Organization of the Year, and some years they ride and wave, others they march – and still wave. One of my jobs is to not run over them or the little kids who keep darting out for loose candy in the road.
But driving is still better than riding shotgun with me – whoever is in the passenger seat has to keep the marchers hydrated, change out the patriotic CDs, manage the Citizens in the back seat and alert me to hecklers on the sidewalk, who I can then ignore.
But when summer is over, the nostalgia kicks in. Maybe I should get a driving gig in the December Northern Lights Parade just to stay tuned up.
-- Randy Wilson
MORNINGS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Possibly the best way to appreciate the geologic marvel of the Mogollon Rim is to wake up on the edge of it. Morning sun glowing through the tent, I zipped out of my sleeping bag and within a few steps was at the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, a block of uplifted continental crust stretching across Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.
It takes more than 20 miles of dirt road driving on Woody Mountain Road to get to the point where the sky island of ponderosa pine tumbles off into jagged walls of sandstone and miles of pinon juniper forest. The string of dispersed camping spots are aptly named “The End of The World.”
While soaking in the scenery, we made up breakfast — pancakes cooked in the golden fat from bacon sizzling on the next pan over, then studded with chocolate covered cherries when we realized no one remembered the syrup.
No matter, the view was already sweet enough.
-- Emery Cowan
PRIDE IN THE PINES
Flagstaff’s reputation of an inclusive, expressive place has made the partnership of this northern Arizona enclave and Pride in the Pines a meaningful fit.
Pride marked a milestone this summer. Its 20th year saw attendance in the thousands — a steep progression from the inaugural festival held on the outskirts of town for 300 people in 1996.
The love and support first spilled into town many summers ago, but this one was different. The shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando was a fresh wound on the LGBTQ community, and humanity as a whole.
So Pride in the Pines paid tribute two ways: a candlelight vigil on the City Hall lawn and a packed party. Hundreds shared a tender moment as the Rainbow Flag waved above the crowd, 49 tiny ones stippling the lawn itself — a time to grieve. Then, that weekend, there was a time to dance as the community gathered once more for its annual, colorful show of Pride.
-- Diandra Markgraf
I’ve never really been afraid of heights or had vertigo before my first hike along the Island Trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument.
When my parents came out to visit my husband and me in May 2014, my mom wanted to see all the local landmarks including Walnut Canyon. It was perfect timing because my husband and I hadn’t had time to explore the area yet.
The ranger at the visitor center warned us that the trail was steep and without handrails in many locations. I had been to the Grand Canyon and didn’t think it would be a problem, until I found myself inching my way past other visitors and large rocks while looking down to the canyon floor many feet below with a cold sweat on my brow. I was very relieved to get to the paved part of the trail on the other side of the island.
-- Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa