Mild temps, tall pines and craft beers abound

2013-06-06T00:00:00Z Mild temps, tall pines and craft beers aboundGerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

You don't have to travel far in Flagstaff to realize that the city is serious about its craft beers.

With a population of more than 65,000, the Northern Arizona destination - known for its mild summer climate and ponderosa pines - sports five breweries, with a sixth, the Historic Brewing Co., on the way.

Tucson, by comparison, has eight breweries with active licenses.

Geoff Barnard, owner and founder of the the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail, has taken to calling the Flagstaff area "the craft-beer hub of the Southwest," playing off its designation on historic Route 66.

"We are really becoming known for great beers here," he said. "It is a big deal."

Barnard created the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail - then called the Flagstaff Ale Trail - in 2011 after he noticed an influx of craft breweries popping up in Coconino County.

He got the idea from the Bend Ale Trail in Bend, Ore., where he lived for several years.

"We had friends fly up from Flagstaff to Bend, and we spent three days visiting all of the breweries," Barnard said. "We had a blast."

For $5.95, participants on the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail get a passport that works at all of the local breweries, including the long-running Beaver Street Brewery and the Wanderlust Brewing Co., which is less than a year old.

"Wanderlust is kind of like a speakeasy," he said. "They are in a commercial building with no sign. You go in and there are people sitting in camping chairs with their dogs. It is a great experience."

Barnard recently expanded the trail to include the Grand Canyon Brewing Co. in Williams and the Oak Creek Brewing Co. in Sedona.

The passports, which never expire, are stamped at each stop and mean discounts on drinks and food. Souvenir Ale Trail cups are available for an additional $10.95.

All of the proceeds from the tours go toward different charities, including Sun Sounds of Arizona, Literacy Volunteers of Coconino County and Habitat for Humanity.

Barnard, a consultant and former president of the Grand Canyon Trust, thought beer would be a great way to raise money for nonprofits.

"Our motto is 'turning good beer into good works.' "

Visit for more information.

More Flagstaff attractions

Old haunts

While Flagstaff's summer temperatures, which stick between 79 and 82 degrees through the summer, probably won't elicit any goose bumps, the city's long list of haunted locales might send chills up your spine.

Flagstaff's ghost population, found throughout downtown from the Monte Vista Hotel to the Doris Harper-White Playhouse, have become staples of local lore.

A free walking tour map of some of Flagstaff's most spirited buildings can be downloaded at

Where the wild things are

If hiking is your thing, the Flagstaff area has trails for all skill levels, from the easy, 1-mile Lava Flow Trail at the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument to the advanced 5-mile Kachina Trail, which ends at the mouth of Weatherford Canyon.

Depending on which trail you take, chances are you'll see some sort of wildlife, whether it be mule deer, elk, badgers, spotted owls or wild turkeys. More information on wildlife can be found at

The reopened Orpheum

When Tucson touring bands such as Calexico, Sergio Mendoza and Brian Lopez perform in Flagstaff, they usually find themselves at The Orpheum Theater (, the city's answer to the Rialto, at 15 W. Aspen Ave.

Like the Rialto, the Orpheum has a long and storied history. It was built in the early 1900s as a movie house and remained that way until closing in 1999. It reopened as a venue space in 2002.

Upcoming acts at the Orpheum include Pepper, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, HAPA, Son Volt and the Cold War Kids.

Touring acts are also known to stop through the Pepsi Amphitheater at Fort Tuthill Park ( REO Speedwagon plays the outdoor venue Friday. It will be host to the fourth annual Flagstaff Wine & Food Festival on Saturday.

Heaps of history

Flagstaff has no shortage of historical sights of note, both modern and ancient.

Route 66, the famed highway from Chicago to Los Angeles where Nat King Cole got his kicks, cuts right through the heart of the city.

Many of the original buildings found along the Flagstaff sector of the route are still around.

A walking tour map can be downloaded at

The Flagstaff area also is abundant in American Indian history and culture.

The cliff dwellings of the Sinagua people can be found at the Walnut Canyon National Monument, 8 miles east of Flagstaff.

The ruins at Wupatki National Monument, north of Flag, were once home to the Anasazi and Sinagua tribes.

Wise words from Widmark

Flagstaff resident and restaurant owner Derrick Widmark recently opened an outpost of his eatery, Diablo Burger, in downtown Tucson.

It is next to Proper, another new restaurant opened by fellow Flagstaff residents Paul and Laura Moir.

We asked Widmark, who has lived in Flagstaff since 2006, some of his local favorites.

Live music

Mia's Lounge, 26 S. San Francisco St. - "It is a little bit off of the beaten path. A little more local, colorful.

Charly's Pub & Grill, 23 N. Leroux St. at the Weatherford Hotel. - "It is a classic downtown Flagstaff venue set in one of our two historical hotels."


Pizzicletta, 203 W. Phoenix Ave. - "(Chef Caleb Schiff) is really cranking out world-class pies on par with what (Chris) Bianco does. It is very authentic, small and traditional."

Coppa Café, 1300 S. Milton Road. - "It is like a European-style cafe. Paola Fioravanti is a fantastic pastry chef. They do incredible desserts.

History and nature

Marshall Lake, 12 miles southeast of Flagstaff. - "It has a great view of the (San Francisco) peaks and is sometimes overlooked as a place to camp. It is especially popular among birders."

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