After the Grand Canyon What Next

What to see & do in the Flagstaff area

If you haven't come to the Grand Canyon to hike down to the bottom (and most visitors don't), you probably will have done the canyon in a day or two. After you've shot several rolls of film and replaced the battery in your camera, what then? Plenty.

Keep in mind that you might want to spend one of your canyon exploration days riding the Grand Canyon Railroad from Williams to the canyon and back. If you do opt for this railroad excursion, be sure to take a little time to explore downtown Williams, which likes to play up its Route 66 history.

Head out the east rim of the Canyon to the crossroads of Cameron and stop in at the Cameron Trading Post (be sure to visit the gallery in the historic trading post building). From here head north to Lake Powell to see what the Grand Canyon would look like if it were flooded with water. If you've got time, be sure to do the boat tour to Rainbow Bridge.

Now head back south toward Flagstaff and visit Wupatki and Sunset Crater national monuments. The former preserves numerous pueblo ruins. The monument's namesake ruin is fascinating for its mysterious blow hole and for its ball court, which is similar to those built by the Aztecs and Mayans. The villages of this area sprung up about 900 years ago after volcanic activity in the region improved the fertility of the soils here. Of the many cinder cones in this region, Sunset Crater, which takes its name from the colors of its cinder-strewn slopes, is by far the most beautiful. An interpretive trail at the base of the Sunset Crater leads through lava flows and ash deposits.

After spending the night in Flagstaff, head east to see the cliff dwellings of Walnut Canyon National Monument and then continue toward Winslow to see Meteor Crater, which just might be Arizona's second most famous hole in the ground. This mile-wide crater was formed when a meteorite 100 feet in diameter slammed into the Arizona landscape. If you're interested in historic buildings, continue on to downtown Winslow and visit La Posada, a restored Santa Fe Railroad hotel designed in the 1920s by the same woman responsible for many of the buildings on the Grand Canyon's South Rim.

From Winslow, consider heading north to the Hopi mesas, where you can tour Walpi village and stop in at a few crafts galleries or studios. The Hopis are known for their kachinas, silverwork, and pottery. Spend another night in Flagstaff or continue on, by way of scenic Oak Creek Canyon, to Sedona.

The Route
Take Hwy. 64 along the East Rim of the Grand Canyon to Cameron, and go north on Hwy. 89 to Page and Lake Powell (spend one or two nights in Page). Return south on Hwy. 89 to I-40, detouring into Wupatki and Sunset Crater national monuments along the way (spend the night in Flagstaff). Drive east on I-40 to visit Walnut Canyon National Monument, Meteor Crater, and Winslow's La Posada (spend the night in Flagstaff). To visit the Hopi mesas, drive north on Hwy. 87 and then east on Hwy. 264 to reach Walpi. Return the way you came from Winslow or take Hwy. 2 south to Hwy. 15 west. From Flagstaff head south through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona.