Standing at over 12,000 feet tall, Humphreys Peak is the tallest mountain in all of Arizona. This claim to fame makes it one of the most frequently visited peaks in the entire state.
If you’re going to be heading to Humphreys Peak in the near future, hiking up the mountain and taking in the breathtaking view is just one of the many things to do in the area. This article will give you a comprehensive list of the dozens of other fun activities you can do in the Humphreys Peak area.
No trip to Humphreys Peak would be complete without spending a night or two under the stars. The beautiful environment and generally moderate temperatures near the base of the mountain make Humphreys Peak an excellent area to camp in.
If you do want to spend a few nights tenting near the mountain, there are a few campgrounds to choose from. They have varying amounts of amenity and comfort, so make sure to research each thoroughly before making your decision.
If you want a “luxurious” camping experience, your best bet is the Bonito Campground. While it’s the furthest campground from Humphreys Peak, it does have some really useful amenities ‒ like a source of fresh drinking water and flush toilets. You can drive your car right up to the campsite, which has fire rings, picnic benches, and ample space for your tent.
If you want something in between luxurious and primitive, the Lockett Meadow Campground is a good compromise. It doesn’t have a source of drinking water, but it does have a vault toilet at least. Like the Bonito Campground, you can drive right up to your campsite and begin setting up.
If you want a true camping experience without any bells and whistles, you should head to the Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Camping area. The scattered campsites ‒ which are located at different points along an out-of-the-way road ‒ consist of clear areas of ground and a campfire ring. There’s no water or toilets. It’s just you and the wilderness.
Visitors who enjoy the adrenaline rush of climbing heights and flying through the air at high speed will love Flagstaff Extreme ‒ Arizona’s only adventure and zip line course.
Located less than 10 miles from Humphreys Peak, you can take a break from monotonous hiking and tackle one of their natural obstacle courses. These courses require you to deal with scramble nets, swinging logs, suspended bridges, and more than 70 other challenging obstacles.
If you’d rather fly through the air than deal with obstacles, you can take on Flagstaff Extreme’s zip line course. More than 30 zip lines wind their way through the grounds, taking you on a thrilling tour you will never forget.
Coconino National Forest
The Coconino National Forest is the beautiful and extremely diverse forest that surrounds Humphreys Peak. There are tons of trails that wind their way through this pristine expanse of trees and shrubbery, and hikers of all fitness levels will find something that suits them.
In addition to the trails, the Coconino National Forest also contains canyons, mountains, lakes, and rivers. Many of the trails take you to these natural landmarks, so make sure to research the forest trails thoroughly to ensure you find one that takes you to the best locations.
Riordan Mansion State History Park
Visiting Riordan Mansion State History Park is like taking a step back in time. This duplex-style building was constructed in 1904. When it was built, it was one of the modern homes of its time. It had electric lighting, a central heating system, an indoor plumbing system, and running water (both hot and cold).
If you’d like to get a real, authentic taste of what life was like in the early 1900s, a few hours at Riordan Mansion State History Park will definitely sate that urge. They also have 1900s themed events, including Tea on the Veranda and Evening Lectures that discuss the occurrences that led to the home’s construction. If you have Victorian attire, the Park Service encourages you to wear it ‒ it adds to the immersion and makes things more fun for everyone.
Fort Tuthill Military Museum
The Fort Tuthill Military Museum provides a comprehensive history of more than 150 years of Arizona military history. Casual observers and military history buffs alike will find the extensive history of Arizona-based combat groups fascinating.
The fort in which the museum resides was constructed in 1929. It was named after Alexander M. Tuthill, who was an Adjutant General based in Arizona.
General admission to the museum costs $6, although seniors and veterans can get in for $5. Children under the age of 12 are free.
Astronomers and those interested in outer space will love visiting Lowell Observatory. Established in 1894 by Percival Lowell, the observatory has been the site of some of the most important findings in all of astronomy:
- The first detection of the expanding nature of the universe
- Finding Pluto
- Discovering the rings of Uranus
- Mapping out the moon for the Apollo missions
Unfortunately for the visiting public, this observatory is still very active. The library and collections areas are off-limits without a special pass, so you probably won’t get to visit these exceedingly interesting locations. You can visit the observatory lobby though, as it’s open from 1-2 p.m. every day. This lobby does contain a number of interesting items that make the observatory more than worth visiting:
- The spectrograph used to find the first evidence of the expansion of the universe.
- Percival Lowell’s first telescope, which he received as a gift from his mother at the age of 15.
- Lowell’s hand-drawn Mars globes that show the canals of the planet in considerable detail.
- Instruments built by scientists that were used to measure the physical characteristics of stars, nebulae, galaxies, and other celestial bodies.
Lava River Cave
The Lava River Cave is an incredible mile-long lava tube a short distance from Humphreys Peak. Entering this cave will let you walk on and touch the intricate rock formations caused by the lava from a long-dormant volcano.
The tour of this tube is self-guided, and take about 90 minutes to complete if you’re walking at a decent pace. The walk starts off on the surface, and descends more than 50 stairs onto a walking surface that is part boardwalk and part staircase.
The cave does have some restrictions. If you do go here, please be mindful of the following things:
- The bats that live in this cave are healthy and strong ‒ but they won’t be if they catch White-nose Syndrome, which is a disease caused by fungi from other cave systems. If you’ve been in another cave or mine recently, please don’t wear any of the clothing or gear you wore while in the other cave.
- The average temperature in the Lava River Cave is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You should wear warm clothing to prevent yourself getting cold during the 1.5 hour hike.
- The cave has many rocky outcrops that you can trip or stub your toe on. To prevent injury, I highly recommend wearing closed-toe shoes.
- As the cave doesn’t have a native light source, you’ll need to bring your own. Ideally, you should bring two light sources in case one of them goes out.
- No pets are allowed. If you have a dog, you’ll need to leave them behind.
Accessing this cave requires some kind of a pass. If you have a Northwest Forest Pass, some kind of Interagency Pass, or the Every Kid in a Park Pass, you can enter for free. If you don’t have one of these, you’ll need to purchase a $5 day pass.
Historic Hitchin’ Post Stables
Horseback riding is a timeless tradition in the state of Arizona. Whether you’re a horseback novice or a riding expert, the team at Historic Hitchin’ Post Stables has a horse suitable for you.
The best part about riding a horse with one of the expert wranglers at Historic Hitchin’ Post Stables is the view of the state parks and deep canyons your trip will provide. You’ll also get the opportunity to see bull elk roaming the plains and hawks soaring through the skies.
If you’ve never ridden a horse before, no worries. The Historic Hitchin’ wranglers are specially trained to guide new riders in basic techniques. You can take it as slow as you like ‒ there’s no rush.
If you don’t want to leave the pristine stable area after a hard day of riding, the stable also offers a log home that you can stay in for a night. It fits up to 10 people, and will give you an easy resting spot if the horses have tired you out.
The Pioneer Museum provides an unparalleled history of the Coconino area. They offer a number of interesting limited-time exhibitions, but the real magic of this place comes in the form of the permanent exhibits.
The first permanent exhibit worth exploring is the Decade Rooms exhibit. The entire upper floor of the museum is dedicated to this, and consists of nine rooms spanning the decades from the 1880s to the 1960s. Each room offers information about life in a specific decade, giving you the chance to travel back in time and see how different life near Humphreys Peak was over 100 years ago.
The next permanent exhibit you need to check out is The Grounds exhibit. There are two staple pieces to this exhibit ‒ a 1929 Baldwin locomotive used in logging operations, and a Santa Fe caboose from the 1940s. Feel free to enter the trains and place yourself in the shoes of the people who rode and operated these machines almost a century ago.
On top of the trains, this exhibit also contains the historic Doney Cabin, a 1915 Model T car, an heirloom garden, and a La France fire engine.
The final permanent exhibit is the Hospital exhibit. Learn how residents from the 1900s to the 1930s cared for the sick by visiting what was once the hospital’s operating and recovery rooms.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, Pioneer Museum also offers a number of interactive tours and activities. Children can take part in activities like candle dipping, butter churning, and rope making. There are also scavenger hunts that take kids all around the inside of the museum and outside onto the grounds.
If you’re interested in a more “adult” activity, there are regular demonstrations of two essential pioneering skills: blacksmithing and weaving.
If you’re looking for a break from nature and prefer to take on a bit of city-based fun, the Alpine Pedaler is a great option.
The Alpine Pedaler is a party bike that takes you and your friends on a fun tour of the historic downtown Flagstaff area. The bike makes three stops over the two hour tour period, and offers options for renting the entire bike or booking individual seats. The stops do generally involve going to pubs, so make sure everyone is over 21 before booking a tour.
Humphreys Peak visitors who have kids will find Thorpe Park to be a pleasant break from both the excitement of the city excitement and the desolation of the wilderness. This clean and scenic park has an extensive collection of playground equipment. It’s also quite large, and has numerous paths for walking, jogging, and biking.
Fort Tuthill Bike Park
Riding your bike around the flat paths of Thorpe Park is a decent option for cycling enthusiasts, but anyone with a mountain bike riders should definitely check out the Fort Tuthill Bike Park. Set in a spacious forest of Ponderosa pine trees, the Bike Park has three different flow trails (one each for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced riders), a tot track, and a return trail to get you back to the park entrance.
While the current set of tracks is awesome, the Bike Park isn’t stopping there. Over the next few years, they plan on adding more than 7 acres of pump tracks, a Cyclocross training circuit, a dirt jump area, a skill development loop, and more.
If you do attend the park, there are some rules you need to follow. And the park is not supervised, so it’s up to you to follow these rules.
- You must wear a helmet and protective gear at all times.
- You must stay on the defined trails. Don’t ride off into the surrounding forest.
- Only one person may attempt a trick on a track feature at a time.
- The park may close during inclement weather.
Flagstaff Snow Park
The Flagstaff Snow Park is a fun place to experience some exciting snow tubing action. Typically open from December until March, this park offers a number of snow tubing lanes. The difficulty of the runs range from kiddie level to long and fast slopes, making this an excellent place for families.
If you do plan on spending a day snow tubing at the Flagstaff Snow Park, there are a few things you should know:
- There are a limited number of tickets. To reserve your spot in the park, I advise buying tickets online via the park’s website.
- Ticket prices range from $9 to $15, depending on how long you plan on staying. Kids under 2 and seniors over 70 are free. You need to buy a ticket to enter the park even if you don’t plan on using a snow tube.
- In addition to the snow tube runs, the park also offers an outdoor fire pit, an assortment of food and beverages, purchasable hats and gloves, restrooms, and some picnic benches.
- When you come to the park, make sure to dress for cold and snowy weather. You’ll also want to bring sunscreen and sunglasses to deal with the sun reflecting off of the snow.
- You can’t bring a sled ‒ you have to use one of the snow tubes.
Ashurst Lake is a beautiful lake located near Humphreys Peak.
Visitors who enjoy fishing will find Ashurst Lake a particularly enjoyable experience. The lake is regularly stocked with a variety of trout. So, you’ll find that there are countless comfortable locations on the edge of the lake where you can sit and cast out a line.
The lake is also a terrific place to go boating. Visitors with canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, or small motorized boats can use the boat ramp to launch into the water. If you do plan on using a motorized boat, make sure it has a single electric motor or a single gasoline engine limited to 10 horsepower.
Ashurst Lake also has a number of amenities that make it a great place to spend a day even if you don’t want to go fishing or boating:
- Two campgrounds with 25 single-unit campsites each make the lake a perfect spot to spend a night.
- A source of fresh drinking water, a collection of vault toilets, and fire rings and cooking grills at each campsite make camping here an even more attractive option.
- A graveled road going around the lake is a perfect spot for a walk, jog, or bike ride.
- A crystal clear view of the San Francisco Peaks add to the area’s beauty.
If you do plan on camping here, know that the campground season is only open from May to October. You can camp here outside of this season, but the drinking water and toilets will only be available during the season.
This article is owned by Recapture Nature and was first published on August 31, 2019
Wet Beaver Creek
The Wet Beaver Creek is a relatively isolated river running through the Coconino National Forest. The land running alongside a good portion of the creek has been declared a protected Wilderness Area.
Visiting Wet Beaver Creek offers the opportunity to go fishing, swimming, hiking, and bird watching. Fishing is particularly lucrative here, as many areas of the stream are chock full of trout. Bird watchers will also find the creek’s borders a great place to sit, as birds of all different shapes and sizes gravitate to the trees along the water source.
As with many of the attractions on this list, Wet Beaver Creek has a few restrictions that visitors must adhere to:
- Camping is not allowed alongside the creek. This restriction includes campfires, so make sure to bring some prepared food from home if you’ll be spending the day here.
- Motorbikes, ATVs, and even mountain bikes are not allowed in the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness Area.
- The Wilderness Area has a Leave No Trace policy. Take all of your garbage with you when you leave, and do your best not to disturb any of the animal or plant life.
Flagstaff Escape Space
Flagstaff Escape Space is home to some of the best escape rooms in the Humphreys Peak area. Located close to Humphreys Peak, this fun escape room experience can provide a cognitive break from many of the more physical attractions available in the area.
The escape room themes are as follows:
This article is owned by Recapture Nature and was first published on August 31, 2019
- Saloon 66: This experience places you in a Wild West saloon. You’ve just broken into the saloon and held up the owner ‒ but you and your team accidentally locked yourselves inside. You only have one hour until the Sheriff shows up to arrest everybody.
- Jailbreak: This experiences places you in a county jail. You’ve been detained for questioning related to a murder, and you have one hour to break out of the jail while the prison guard is on his lunch break.
- Trophy Quest: This is more of a “find-and-seek” game than an escape room game, but it’s still quite fun. You and your group are placed in a locker room. The trophy for the big game has disappeared, and you have 60 minutes to find it before the game ends.
Each escape room experience takes about 80 minutes in total ‒ 20 minutes for a review of the rules with the Game Master, and 60 minutes for the actual escape attempt. If you want to attend one of the escape room games, here are a few tips:
- I advise buying a ticket through their website a few days in advance. Space is extremely limited, and this attraction can get quite popular during the tourist season.
- No one under 10 years of age will be allowed to play. If you’re between the ages of 10 and 14, you will need to be accompanied by an adult.
- You can’t have your phone in the room. They’re afraid you might be able to use it to search for a solution on the internet. The Flagstaff Escape staff will place your phone in a locked area in the lobby, and you’ll be able to retrieve it after the game is complete. If you’re expecting an urgent call, you might want to hold off on playing.
- If you don’t escape in an hour, you won’t be held hostage indefinitely. The staff will unlock the door, and you’ll be free to leave.
- Each escape room costs $29 per person. There are discounts available for law enforcement, first responders, military, and groups of 8 or more.
- You do have the option to reserve a room for your private use. This is typically more fun than playing with strangers, though you do need to pay extra for it.
Blue Marble Adventure GeoTourism
Blue Marble Adventure GeoTourism is a professional tour guide company that offer experiences in the Grand Canyon, Utah Canyon Country, and the Arizona Red Rocks area.
As a visitor to Humphreys Peak, you would likely be selecting the Red Rocks tour option, as its northern Arizona location is closest to the Peak.
In the Arizona Red Rocks area, Blue Marble offers a number of experiences. These include a backpacking tour, a Wild West Prospector Experience, a trip through the Paria Canyon, a trip to the Vermillion Cliffs, and a journey to the Little Colorado River.
Many of these tours do require you to have some backpacking and wilderness survival experience. You can probably get by with some pretty basic knowledge. Blue Marble will provide you with expert guides and outfit you with state-of-the-art gear designed for rugged wilderness trips. Here are a few of the amenities and services provided:
This article is owned by Recapture Nature and was first published on August 31, 2019
- All guides are certified in CPR and first aid training. They also take complete first aid kits and an abundance of extra water with them on all trips.
- All trips come equipped with high-quality tents and comfortable sleeping pads.
- As far as food goes, Blue Marble offers home-cooked meals made by a professional chef. They are expertly cooked by your guide.
- At least one of your guides will be a professional geologist, giving you invaluable insight into the processes that formed the amazing landscapes you’ll be traveling through.
While these tours are objectively fantastic, they aren’t cheap. Most multi-day packages run at least $1,250 per person. It’s absolutely worth the cost if you can afford it though. They also offer cheaper day-hiking trips for visitors who don’t want to spend multiple days in the Arizona wilderness.