Flagstaff, Arizona

Best Places to Retire in Arizona


Flagstaff (population 60,000) is located in the northern part of the state, at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, and surrounded by one of world’s largest Ponderosa Pine forests. Approximately 140 miles north of Phoenix, Flagstaff is situated at 7,000 feet elevation and enjoys low humidity and a moderate, four-season climate. 

http://www.flagstaff.az.gov The city’s history dates to 1855 when Lieutenant Beale, who was surveying a road from the Rio Grande to Fort Tejon in California, passed through Flagstaff. He had his men cut a pine pole to fly the U.S. flag where they camped. Flagstaff was first settled in 1876 and in the 1880s it began to grow, opening its first post office.

With the arrival of the railroad came a boom time and by 1886 Flagstaff had become the biggest settlement between Albuquerque and California, shipping timber, sheep and cattle. Flagstaff was destined to make history when Dr. Percival Lowell, a mathematician and amateur astronomer from Massachusetts, chose it in 1894 for an observatory.

More than 30 years later, the Lowell Observatory discovered Pluto. Arizona Teacher’s College opened there in 1899, and in 1966 it became Northern Arizona University. Flagstaff also benefited from construction of the now famous Route 66 in the 1920s, bringing many tourists into the city. The historic downtown area, which was built around the railroad line, retains many of the stone buildings from that period and they now house interesting shops and restaurants.

Today Flagstaff is the largest city in northern Arizona. It is a regional resource center, and the county seat for Coconino County. Yet, it maintains much of its small town charm — laid back and comfortable. It is rich in natural beauty, cultural opportunities, higher education, outdoor recreational opportunities, and the diversity of its population.

The city attracts many visitors throughout the year and a surprising number of Arizona residents maintain a second home here. In addition to all of its other amenities and the wondrous beauties of nature, including 12,000-foot mountain peaks, the Colorado River Gorge, and the Grand Canyon, surround the city. It has good healthcare facilities, very ample shopping, a great many dining choices, and very clean air. This is one small city that has a great many things going for it that are “unmatched.”

Arts & Culture

Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1950, produces a season of six concerts from September through April. http://www.flagstaffsymphony.org/

Flagstaff’s Orpheum Theater, built in 1911, is a premier performing arts venue. It was completely renovated in 2002 with plush seating and sound system. Coconino Center for the Arts is a center for art, science and culture, including local and regional arts and crafts. Canyon Movement Company is a performing company based in Flagstaff. http://www.canyonmovementcompany.org/

Venues at the Northern Arizona University include Ardrey Auditorium (928) 523-2250, Ashurst Auditorium (928) 523-4120, Clifford White Theater (928) 523-2459, and Prochnow Auditorium (928) 523-6904. The central ticket office for the university can be reached at (928) 523-5661. Heritage Square Trust sponsors free performances at the city’s open-air amphitheater.

Flagstaff Light Opera Company — Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum preserves and interprets the history of Northern Arizona. Fort Tuthill Military Museum — http://www.forttuthill.org/

The Museum of Northern Arizona explores and explains about the people who have occupied the region and the land. http://www.musnaz.org/

Flagstaff Art Barn is a non-profit that displays and promotes local art, with an emphasis on Native American works.

Most of the art is from local Navajo and Hopi artists. Northern Arizona Art Museum features artists from around the world and a permanent collection of nearly 700 pieces. http://www4.nau.edu/art%5Fmuseum/ Planes of Fame – Air Museum includes displays of aircraft from World War I through the supersonic jet age. http://www.planesoffame.org/


The giant Coconino National Forest Preserve (1.8 million acres) surrounds the Flagstaff area, and includes the famous Red Rock area of Sedona, Ponderosa Pine forests, and alpine tundra. It consists of four regions, or districts.

The northernmost part of the park, which includes Flagstaff, is called the Peaks District, and includes the highest mountains in the state. The Mormon Lakes District, which is just south and east of Flagstaff, is a rolling highland of Ponderosa pines, Pinyon, and juniper, with broad prairie land and small lakes. Mormon Lake is the largest natural lake in the state. There are large herds of elk, pronghorn antelope, eagles, and osprey that live in this region.

The southeastern part of the park is known as the “Mogollon Rim,” which forms the southern limits of the plateau. With drops of as much as 2,000 feet, the Rim offers far-reaching views across the state – nearly to Phoenix. Finally, the southwestern part of the park is known as the “Red Rock District” and includes the Sedona area and Oak Creak Canyon. There are many recreational opportunities, including hiking, horseback riding, swimming, fishing, and magnificent views in every direction.

Arizona Snowbowl Resort is a ski area on Mt. Humphrey, with a vertical drop of 2,300 feet, 32 trails, and four chairlifts. It offers skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and more. In the summer season, which begins at Memorial Day and goes through the second week of October, there is a Skyride to the 11,500-foot. level. The spectacular views include the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. http://www.arizonasnowbowl.com/

Montezuma Castle National Monument contains one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in all of North America.

The five-story, 20-room structure was once the home of prehistoric Sinagua Indians, more than 600 years ago. This 1,670-acre park hosts about 750,000 visitors each year. http://www.nps.gov/moca/ Grand Canyon Railway is a 65-mile rail line from Williams to the Grand Canyon National Park, a short distance from the rim.

Tuzigoot National Monument contains an ancient pueblo, or village built by the Sinagua Indians. The structure, located on a desert hilltop, consisted of 110 rooms, with second and third story structures. It is estimated that the first buildings were constructed around 1000 A.D. http://www.nps.gov/tuzi Northern Arizona University competes in NCAA Division 1 athletics (“the Lumberjacks”) n all the major sports. 


Northern Arizona University is a comprehensive university offering 108 baccalaureate, 46 master’s, and nine doctoral degrees. Undergraduate enrollment is about 13,000 and there are nearly 6,000 graduate students. The university is situated on a 738-acre site, with more than half of its students living on campus. http://home.nau.edu/

Coconino Community College offers career technical programs and university transfer credits in both the arts and sciences. It has two campus locations in the city. http://www.coconino.edu/

Senior Programs

The city offers programs for seniors at its adult center. Hospital Flagstaff Medical Center is a regional referral center for northern Arizona. It offers a wide range of medical services, including a trauma center and a cancer center. 


Flagstaff Pulliam Airport offers regularly scheduled commercial service with connecting flights. 


Flagstaff is at 7,000 feet elevation in what is considered a high desert region, with low humidity and clean air. The average daily temperatures for January are a high of 42 degrees and low of 15 degrees. July, which is the warmest month, has an average daily high temperature of 81 degrees and a low of 50 degrees. The annual precipitation is 22.8 inches, and there is more than 100 inches of annual snowfall. 


Arizona Daily Sun — http://www.azdailysun.com/

Property Taxes


State Taxes


Chamber of Commerce



Sedona – 29 miles Williams – 35 miles Oak Creek – 50 miles Cameron – 52 miles Camp Verde – 57 miles Cottonwood – 68 miles Grand Canyon – 77 miles Prescott – 94 miles Phoenix – 140 miles Scottsdale – 149 miles Las Vegas, NV – 250 miles Tucson – 259 miles « Back to the City Index « Back to the State Index