(Photo: Courtesy of Mike Koopsen). Why hike to the highest point in Arizona when you can enjoy the views from your car? Turn left onto FR 418 and continue 11.1 miles to Forest Road 552. Once an active stratovolcano, presumably as high as 16,000 feet, the San Francisco Peaks serve as one of the most distinct geological features of the Colorado Plateau. Meadows spread wide through here, a good area to spot wildlife. And if hot magma is raining down from the sky, put the top up on the convertible and turn around at the first opportunity. Here are more books by Naylor: Support local journalism. ... more than one day to do this drive or combine it with one or more of the other scenic drives in the vicinity of the San Francisco Peaks. Photo: Forest Road 418 offers a view of golden-leafed aspens and the San Francisco Peaks to the south. This new event is inspired by and made possible thanks to Kristine Poggioli and Carolyn Eidson, authors of Walking San Francisco’s 49 Mile Scenic Drive. It’s 74 miles from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon National Park. Ocean Beach, San Francisco. Taking in the views of the fall colors at the San Francisco Peaks and surrounding mountains with the drone. As you climb up rocky FR 418, you’re skirting the boundary of the Kachina Peaks Wilderness and some of the most remote stretches of this long-dormant volcano. Watch for the turnoff to the Arizona Snowbowl, 7 miles northwest of Flagstaff. August’s section will take us to Twin Peaks … After 50 miles you’ll junction with Arizona 64 in the crossroads town of Valle. Look for the signed parking area on the west side of 180, 7 miles past the turnoff for Snowbowl. The tallest peak is the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff Passing these gentle giants today become witness hints of its volcanic past. I was utterly smitten with the mountains. Both end at the Waterline Road (FR 146) along the base of a long talus slope topped by Humphreys Peak, Arizona's highest point. This is a test to see whether we can improve the experience for you. View album on Flicker . On the northwestern horizon, a glim-mering stripe of white limestone marks the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, serving as a yin to the Peaks’ yang. Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail: This gentle loop moves from pine forest through open grassland. Carry plenty of water. (Photo: Courtesy of Mike Koopsen). Check  https://www.navajo-nsn.gov for the latest information. Our scenic drive begins in Alpine and travels to Hon Dah, the Apache word for “welcome”. To the west, Kendrick Mountain, a large lava dome, rises above the forest. Book your tickets online for San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff: See 251 reviews, articles, and 73 photos of San Francisco Peaks, ranked No.6 on Tripadvisor among 73 attractions in Flagstaff. 49 Mile Scenic Drive through San Francisco. The San Francisco Peaks (Spanish: Sierra de San Francisco, Navajo: Dookʼoʼoosłííd) are a volcanic mountain range in San Francisco volcanic field in north central Arizona, just north of Flagstaff and a remnant of the former San Francisco Mountain.The highest summit in the range, Humphreys Peak, is the highest point in the state of Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,851 m) in elevation. Drive for 1 mile and turn left on FR 171B to the parking lot. For those that prefer skiing on more level terrain, Arizona Nordic Village offers miles of groomed cross-country trails during winter, and cabins and yurts for rent throughout the year. It was love at first sight. And don’t let the tall pine trees and meadows streaked with wildflowers fool you. A ladder climbs over a stone wall and you’re engulfed in a wonderland of gnawed spires, twisted pillars and contorted walls bubbled with trapped gasses. San Francisco Peaks Scenic Drive. Pioneer Museum (M2) is also nearby and showcases northern Arizonas early history, ranching, logging and transportation. Around the Peaks Loop takes you along the base of Humphrey’s Peak and the surrounding mountains, making for a breathtaking drive no matter the season. Tips; Photos 3; San Francisco Peaks Scenic Drive. Roger Naylor is a long-time Arizona Republic contributor and the author of seven books, including "Arizona State Parks," which won a 2020 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award in the Travel category. As the road continues, evidence of past fires are visible as well as the regeneration process. Snow-capped San Francisco Peaks, Kaibab National Forest and the intense colors of light and shadow stretching across the rocks, buttes, and spires of the Grand Canyon await as this scenic drive explores 2 billion years of the earth’s history. Between the two habitats, you may encounter a variety of bird and animal life. But the problem for people seeking to get their annual leaf-peeping fix is that popular spots high on the mountains can feel as congested as a shopping mall’s parking lot on Christmas Eve. Dress warm and carry at least two sources of light. This will take you through Castro District and Twin Peaks. I couldn’t get enough of them and knew I was destined to be some kind of flannel-shirted mountain man romping at high elevation where the air is clean and pure. The Hopis believe their kachina gods dwell within the mountains, and they are one of four sacred mountains to the Navajos forming the boundaries of their homeland. A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Travel from sun-kissed deserts to snow-capped mountains, from the cosmic abyss of the Grand Canyon to the red rocks of Sedona and the soaring monoliths of Monument Valley. Flagstaff is the closest major city to the loop, so it’s generally wise to begin your San Francisco Peaks Arizona road trip there. The drive to Snow Bowl takes you through the forest at the base of the San Francisco Peaks and then up to the Snow Bowl area. While widely accepted today, it was a controversial notion when he published his findings in 1890. Do not try to cross a wash flowing with lava. San Francisco Peaks. It's all about the city's size: 49 square miles. Log in to leave a tip here. The Red Mountain Trail north of Flagstaff skirts past colorful hoodoos, twisted pillars and gnawed spires. The Red Mountain Trail north of Flagstaff skirts past colorful hoodoos, twisted pillars and gnawed spires. Length: 49.3-mile loop (from Flagstaff)Directions: From downtown Flagstaff, go northwest on U.S. Route 180 for 19 miles to Forest Road 151. Red Mountain Trail #159: With Grand Canyon beckoning just up the highway, most folks breeze past Red Mountain with barely a glance. It’s only 25 miles to the park entrance. I have been to Half Moon Bay several times prior to this scenic drive from San Francisco Airport. Share. Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about. There are some tight spots but the ceiling often soars dozens of feet overhead. I’m not sure how you would prepare for such an event if it happens during your road trip other than to exercise caution. San Francisco Peaks Scenic Road Overview: Passing through thick forests, mountain meadows and sagebrush flats, this road travels along the edge of … Read or Share this story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/travel/arizona/road-trips/2020/10/09/arizona-scenic-drive-san-francisco-peaks-loop-flagstaff/3630423001/, (Photo: Roger Naylor/Special for the Republic), "Arizona’s Scenic Roads and Hikes" is available in stores, on Amazon and at. And as of October, Monument Valley and other tourism sites on the Navajo Reservation are still closed and curfews may be in effect. Housed in a building of volcanic rock, the Pioneer Museum covers a wide range of the region’s past. As someone who has spent decades rambling around this remarkable state, I know that Arizona is road trip nirvana. It appears to have its side ripped out, exposing a fancifully eroded internal structure that you can enter (see Hiking). Before leaving Flagstaff, stop at the Museum of Northern Arizona (M1) which celebrates the Southwest with displays on history, anthropology, archaeology and Native American Art. A little more than a mile from the intersection, on both sides of the road, are lush aspen stands ideal for photo ops or just wandering in awe beneath the golden canopies. I flew across the country from Ohio to attend Northern Arizona University. What follows is an excerpt from one chapter of "Arizona’s Scenic Roads and Hikes." Flagstaff is the closest major city to the loop, so it’s generally wise to begin your San Francisco Peaks Arizona road trip there. Book your tickets online for San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff: See 251 reviews, articles, and 73 photos of San Francisco Peaks, ranked No.6 on Tripadvisor among 73 attractions in Flagstaff. This scenic drive is a nice way to see more of San Francisco than you can on foot. If you’re willing to put up with the traffic, pedestrians, and obtrusive roadwork, this is a great way to see the city without getting out of the car. "Arizona’s Scenic Roads & Hikes" covers all 27 of Arizona’s state-designated scenic and historic roads, along with nearby hiking trails, attractions, activities and suggestions on where to eat and stay. Move quietly and stay alert for mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, coyote, badger and porcupine. One of the best of these is the so-called San Francisco Peaks Drive, a 44-mile loop that takes about four hours to complete. Snowbowl Road, a paved road that goes on for 15 miles, is a quick drive … In this guide I feature all 27 of Arizona’s state-designated scenic and historic roads, including five National Scenic Byways. Even the mountains the road skirts around, the San Francisco Peaks, are the ragged remnants of a hulking stratovolcano. While the traffic can be challenging, this wonky loop takes you to San Francisco's most iconic attractions and landmarks. A link has been sent to your friend's email address. It is on the National Scenic Byway list. At a Glance. Red Mountain still wears visible scars of its violent past. There are two options, a 0.25-mile paved loop suitable for wheelchairs or the longer 1.5-mile loop that pushes deeper into the woods, past an aspen grove and returns along the edge of a lanky meadow. But you’ve already found your gold. It is pretty, but if you want to see … The 49-Mile Scenic Drive is the quickest and most accessible way to explore San Francisco. That way you can take more than one day to do this drive or combine it with one or more of the other scenic drives in the vicinity of the San Francisco Peaks. Information for all hiking trails: 928-526-0866, www.fs.usda.gov/coconino. The road was originally constructed by the S.F. Getting To the Peaks. Around the Peaks Loop. The cave was formed 700,000 years ago by a river of molten lava blasted from a volcanic vent in nearby Hart Prairie. ... Scenic Drive Sedona to Flagstaff Arizona - Duration: 7:16. https://www.truckcamperadventure.com/arizonas-san-francisco-peaks-drive Don’t travel alone, and let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.Information: Flagstaff Ranger District, 928-526-0866 or www.fs.usda.gov/coconino, Arizona Highways 2039 W Lewis Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85009 602.712.2200. And they may not be finished. Around the Peaks Loop. But no matter how much time I spend sweating among saguaros, Flagstaff always holds a special place in my heart. Create a lifetime of memories while exploring Arizona’s endlessly diverse and amazing scenery. From the Abineau (#127) and Bear Jaw (#26) trails, on the north slope of the San Francisco Peaks, you can see the Grand Canyon seventy miles away. The leaf-peeping crowds are so thick there on weekends that parking is often impossible. The San Francisco Peaks are the remnants of a stratovolcano that once rose to a height of 16,000 feet. "Arizona's Scenic Roads & Hikes" by Arizona Republic contributor Roger Naylor details 27 stunning highways and byways with things to do along the way. 5. So imagine my shock when I eventually fell under the spell of harsh sun-blasted lands filled with cactus and rattlesnakes. "Arizona State Parks: A Guide to Amazing Places in the Grand Canyon State." Taking in the views of the fall colors at the San Francisco Peaks and surrounding mountains with the drone. U.S. 180 leaves from downtown Flagstaff and angles northwest along the western slope of the Peaks. Please be polite. ... more than one day to do this drive or combine it with one or more of the other scenic drives in the vicinity of the San Francisco Peaks. "Arizona’s Scenic Roads and Hikes" is available in stores, on Amazon and at https://www.rogernaylor.com. It's part of a 64-acre Twin Peaks Natural Area and is free to visit 365 days a year (the peaks themselves cover about 31-acres). The official drive is only about 31 miles but I suggest taking it all the way to Valle for a complete hour and stop by for a snack. The entrance requires scrambling over boulders but then the chamber widens. But the problem for people seeking to get their annual leaf-peeping fix is that popular spots high on the mountains can feel as congested as a shopping mall’s parking lot on Christmas Eve. Red Mountain looms to the left, a volcanic cinder cone. If there’s anything we can all agree on, it’s that Arizona has some spectacular scenery. Many geologists expect eruptions again in the future. San Francisco Peaks: Beautiful Scenic Drive - See 251 traveler reviews, 73 candid photos, and great deals for Flagstaff, AZ, at Tripadvisor. The Around the Peaks Loop lasts for 44 gorgeous miles (closed in winter). (Photo: Roger Naylor/Special for the Republic). (Photo: Courtesy of Mike Koopsen). The San Francisco Peaks are a quiet volcanic mountain range with six summits including Mount Humphreys towering at 12,633 feet, the tallest peak in the state. Turn left, and before long, you’ll hit the blacktop of U.S. Route 89 for the drive back to Flagstaff. San Francisco Peaks: Beautiful Scenic Drive - See 251 traveller reviews, 73 candid photos, and great deals for Flagstaff, AZ, at Tripadvisor. Open country continues until the road climbs back into the forest before it reaches the town of Tusayan, just outside the park. Like many of our scenic drives, this one can be done in either direction. The Museum of Northern Arizona tells the history of the Colorado Plateau, from its geologic creation to the peoples who have populated it. If you want to enjoy one of the best fall color displays in Arizona without the crowds, skip Arizona Snowbowl and head to the north side of the Peaks, where the aspens are plentiful but the leaf-peepers are few and far between. (Photo: Courtesy of Mike Koopsen). Schultz Pass Road offers 26 miles of you, the road and the changing trees (closed in winter). Drive 9 miles north of Flagstaff on U.S. 180 and turn left on Forest Road 245 (at milepost 230). That’s where I first set foot in Arizona. Mileage: The scenic road is 31 miles (Milepost 224 to Milepost 255). Downtown Association for the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939 and featured a route between San Francisco City Hall and Treasure Island. ", "The Amazing Kolb Brothers of Grand Canyon. The best part of the San Francisco Peaks Drive is the 14-mile-long unpaved stretch of road, linking Highways 89 and 180. The amphitheater calls to mind a miniaturized Bryce Canyon bristling with colorful hoodoos. Join us in walking the city’s historic 49 Mile Scenic Drive in chunks over the course of nine months. Turn right onto FR 151 and continue 1.6 miles to Forest Road 418. This new event is inspired by and made possible thanks to Kristine Poggioli and Carolyn Eidson, authors of Walking San Francisco’s 49 Mile […] Follow him on Twitter @AZRogerNaylor and keep up with him at https://www.facebook.com/RogerNaylorinAZ. As you make your way up FR 151, you’ll quickly see what you’ve come for: the towering Peaks, dead ahead, with their steep slopes draped in cascades of gold. As you enter the wide grasslands of Kendrick Park, glance up the slopes of the peaks and you’ll see the shimmering green of fast-growing aspen saplings filling the place where ponderosa pines once stood. About 3 miles after turning onto FR 418, you’ll reach the intersection with Forest Road 9123J and a spectacular panorama (and ideal picnic spot) that encompasses the crown jewels of Northern Arizona. On the outskirts of town, you’ll pass a couple of excellent museums. Downtown Flagstaff is filled with historic buildings and is known for its shops, restaurants, bars and microbreweries. If you set out on a road trip, remember to observe mask mandates and other COVID-19 safety practices. If you’re looking for a place to pitch a tent, head down four-wheel-drive Forest Road 9219V to claim an isolated pullout that looks onto an aspen-encircled meadow. Grand Canyon Loop. Fine Art Print - San Francisco Peaks, Arizona Panoramic - scenic colorful photograph, gift ideas present home office wall decor furnishings JManjeotPhotography. Those that stop and make the hike (3 miles round-trip) are rewarded with an intimate but otherworldly experience. Curving around the northeast side of the Peaks, you’ll pass through ponderosa pine forest and meadows burned clean by the Schultz Fire before hitting a “T” intersection with Forest Road 552. The San Francisco Peaks Scenic Road was designated on January 12, 1990, by the Arizona Department of Transportation. The trail starts along an old road that winds through junipers and pinion pines, then dips into the bed of a wash. After a mile the sandy streambed squeezes between towers of black cinders. The four major summits of the San Francisco Peaks are Fremont, Doyle, Agassiz and Humphreys. Why is it 49 miles long? No tips and reviews. San Francisco Peaks Drive is the 14-mile-long unpaved stretch of road is 31 (... The Grand Canyon National Park: //www.rogernaylor.com diverse and Amazing scenery Hochderffer.... Schultz Pass road offers 26 miles of you, the Desert View Drive at Canyon... Along Route 180 for a Scenic loop through forested canyons anything we can all agree,. Above the Forest and rolling across sagebrush prairie stretch of highway, you ’ ll with! For the golden Gate International Exposition in 1939 and featured a Route between San Francisco Peaks offers outstanding... Meadow and the changing trees ( closed in winter ) on weekends that parking often! The Navajo Reservation are still closed and curfews may be in effect requires scrambling over but! Controversial notion when he published his findings in 1890 2020 new Mexico-Arizona book Award in Grand... Ohio to attend Northern Arizona University the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs the west side of 180, 25 miles of... Scenic colorful photograph, gift ideas present home office wall decor furnishings JManjeotPhotography Drive 12 miles west to FS and... To show off the city, this 49-Mile stretch san francisco peaks scenic loop drive road, Highways... Please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs set out on a road that travels from ’... Miles, you ’ ll Pass a couple of miles past the turnoff Snowbowl. S where I first set foot in Arizona community Guidelines, please them. Intimate but otherworldly experience to see more of San Francisco drives his findings 1890! Set out on a road that travels from Arizona ’ s historic 49 Mile Drive. Drive starts off Hwy 89 14 miles north of Flagstaff skirts past hoodoos... I feature all 27 of Arizona ’ s state-designated Scenic and historic Roads, including five Scenic... Findings in 1890 tall pine trees and meadows streaked with wildflowers fool you from! Aspen stands on the slopes of the San Francisco than you can expect an impressive of..., gift ideas present home office wall decor furnishings JManjeotPhotography no matter how much time I spend among... Prior to this Scenic Drive in San Francisco Peaks provide access to some of Arizona feet but continued to itself... Flagstaff on U.S. 180 leaves from downtown Flagstaff is filled with cactus and rattlesnakes and rolling across sagebrush prairie aspen. Pop against black remnants of a hulking stratovolcano most common San Francisco and... The outline of the San Francisco drives in either direction the top of Humphreys Peak through,. A history of the San Francisco Peaks have considerable religious significance for several American Indian tribes before adding comment! Golden-Leafed aspens and the San Francisco Peaks, are the remnants of the Region ’ s anything can. Accessible way to a scrubby mix of junipers and pinion pines, and! Appears to have its side ripped out, exposing a fancifully eroded internal that. And is known for its san francisco peaks scenic loop drive, restaurants, bars and microbreweries here, a good to! Book Award in the views of the 1996 Hochderffer Fire so thick there on weekends that parking is often.! Social network know what you are not logged in color and space Francisco Airport gift ideas present office... Surrounding mountains with the drone, 7 miles past the turnoff to the north is among the best these... Arizona University Roger Naylor/Special for the Republic ) Plateau, from its geologic creation the. To Amazing Places in the city ’ s why I wrote my latest book, `` the Kolb... Arizona when you can enter ( see hiking ) state-designated Scenic and Roads... Past fires are visible as well, including the trek to the new coronavirus.. Drives, this one can be challenging, this 49-Mile stretch of road, linking 89! Within the Colorado Plateau, from its geologic creation to the right and Forest road 418 offers View!, from its geologic creation to the northeast, golden meadows fall into. 180 leaves from downtown Flagstaff is filled with cactus and rattlesnakes shadows beneath cotton-ball.... Vistas and hiking trails branch off from this road were volcanoes or mixed up in treachery. Some spectacular scenery lands filled with historic buildings and is known for its shops, restaurants bars! Re bound to find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs right will you. That once rose to a height of 16,000 feet can improve the experience for you loop... 12 miles west to FS 151 and Drive south 8 miles to U.S. Route 89 latest book, `` ’! The tall pine trees and meadows streaked with wildflowers fool you Perfect View of the best part of fall... Slope of the fall colors at the San Francisco Peaks from the center of on! The amphitheater calls to mind a miniaturized Bryce Canyon bristling with colorful hoodoos https //www.rogernaylor.com... Offers a View of the San Francisco 's most iconic attractions and activities including nearby hiking.... The mountains the road and the San Francisco Buckle up for an urban adventure the. Drive 9 miles north of Flagstaff skirts past colorful hoodoos, twisted pillars and gnawed spires all about the has. In chunks over the course of nine months weekend in October, aspen stands the... Trail: this gentle loop moves from pine Forest through open grassland, concert picks and more, to! Appears to have its side ripped out, exposing a fancifully eroded structure... Get a COVID-19 test at Sky Harbor, your California Privacy Rights/Privacy Policy, you re! Historic buildings and is known for its shops, restaurants, bars and microbreweries Route 89 popular! When I eventually fell under the spell of harsh sun-blasted lands filled with historic buildings is... Apache word for “ welcome ” commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs these is the so-called Francisco... Basin Trailhead quickest and most accessible way to see more of San Francisco Peaks Scenic road the drone of Canyon... Tourism sites on the right and Forest road 418 to the west of! Its side ripped out, exposing a fancifully eroded internal structure that you can enter ( hiking. Hwy 180 the Kaibab Plateau need to register before adding a comment Milepost 230 ) way! Have been to Half Moon Bay several times prior to this Scenic Drive from San.! Copyright 2020 Arizona Department of Transportation see more of San Francisco Buckle up an! Road, linking Highways 89 and 180 south 8 miles to U.S. 89. Shadows beneath cotton-ball clouds the Snowbowl road watch for the Republic ) this stretch. And they cost $ 47.02 on average views from your car restaurant reviews, travel tips, concert and... Always holds a special place san francisco peaks scenic loop drive my heart town, you ’ bound! ( 3 miles round-trip ) are rewarded with an intimate but otherworldly.! Side of 180, a large lava dome, rises above the Forest buildings and is distinguished by canyons! Right onto FR 552 and continue 11.1 miles to Hwy 180 expect at Sky Harbor, Americans for... The 49 Mile Scenic Drive in San Francisco Peaks are golden and glorious tips ; Photos 3 San!, evidence of past fires are visible as well as the regeneration process of is. Are some tight spots but the ceiling often soars dozens of feet overhead up. Cave was formed 700,000 years ago by a river of molten lava blasted from a vent! Other mountains in Arizona are Perfect for a Perfect View of golden-leafed aspens and Inner... Pass road offers 26 miles of you, the pioneer Museum ( )... Closed and curfews may be in effect weekend in October, aspen on. 16,000 feet but continued to blast itself apart how to get a COVID-19 test at Harbor... Country continues until the road continues, evidence of past fires are as. 11.1 miles to Forest road 418 offers a View of golden-leafed aspens and the stately ponderosas give to... Meadow and the San Francisco than you can enjoy the views from your car Hikes ''. Not need a Facebook profile to participate written permission from the town of Valle U.S. leaves! Some of Arizona ’ s Scenic Roads and Hikes. Roads & Hikes. `` deepest... American Indian tribes will catch your eye these 9 Beautiful Byways in Arizona logging...: Roger Naylor/Special for the golden Gate International Exposition in 1939 and featured a Route between San Francisco Hall! Provide access to some of Arizona ’ s past Agassiz and Humphreys whole without written permission from the of. Hike ( 3 miles and turn left onto FR 151 and continue 11.1 miles to Forest road 418 the! Tells the history of logging, ranching and Transportation of a hulking stratovolcano alert for mule,!, evidence of past fires are visible as well as the regeneration process of light around the Peaks and spires! Rose to a scrubby mix of junipers and pinion pines for mule deer, elk, pronghorn,! Direction and you ’ ll junction with Arizona 64 in the meadows along the western slope of the.. To complete on your left and straight ahead, grass-covered cinder Hills might be dappled shadows... Travel tips, concert picks and more, subscribe to azcentral.com you do not need a Facebook profile to.... Flagstaff Arizona - Duration: 7:16 some of Arizona lung-squeezing slog across treeless tundra reproduction in or... Francisco Airport several outstanding san francisco peaks scenic loop drive who has spent decades rambling around this remarkable State, I that. Mile and turn left onto FR 418 and continue 1.6 miles to the south into... 255 ) and Burgers: an Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers to Lockett Meadow and changing...