Fun Activities in Northern AZ Before or After Your Grand Canyon Rafting Trip
There are so many fun activities you can partake in while you’re in Northern Arizona for your Grand Canyon rafting adventure. If you haven’t already read our blog on all the National Parks and Monuments in Northern Arizona, we highly recommend checking that out. The places below are not endorsed by Arizona Raft Adventures; they’re fun places to check out though!
Flagstaff Visitor’s Center: this is a great place to stop by to find personalized travel information, guidebooks, maps, brochures, etc. There’s a great gift shop, and plenty of information to help you prepare to sightsee around Flagstaff. You can see all Flagstaff hotels, RV park, hostels, etc. in one place, as well as restaurants, weather, and Flagstaff events. A wonderful place to plan your time in Flagstaff!
GC Caverns: A fascinating cavern that was created 65 million years ago. They’re known as the largest dry caverns in the US. You can take tours of the cavern, stay at their hotel, stay in the cavern, eat at their grill, and even camp there! On the tour, you’ll go 200 feet underground to offer marvelous sights. Reservations required for all experiences.
Museum of Northern Arizona: This museum offers a truly unique history of Northern Arizona from collections on anthropology, botany, geology, paleontology, fine art and zoology. Most of the exhibits show the life of those who originally lived in the Northern Arizona area. They also host several events to check out from time to time. Their website reads, “The Museum of
Northern Arizona sits at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, on homelands sacred to Native Americans throughout the region. We honor their past, present, and future generations, who have lived here for millennia and will forever call this place home.”
Lowell Observatory: Visit the observatory where Pluto was discovered! Yes, we here in Flagstaff still consider Pluto a planet. 😊 You can see the telescope where Pluto was discovered, as well as their many other telescopes. Currently, Lowell Observatory areas of research include the solar system, stellar astrophysics, exoplanetary systems, galactic and extragalactic astronomy, cultural astronomy, and they also do instrumentation research and development. Flagstaff was designated the first International Dark Sky City in 2001, and has been leading the way with Lowell Observatory ever since.
GC IMAX: Located in Tusayan, AZ, the entry town to the South Rim of Grand Canyon, this IMAX show is called, “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets”. They show this daily on the half hour, every hour, starting at 9:30AM, ending at 6:30PM. Their website says, “A giant six-story movie screen with over 12,000 watts of digital surround sound allows visitors to literally experience the Grand Canyon, throughout time, as if they were actually there.” You can watch the trailer at the link above!
Open Road Tours: This company offers tours all over Northern Arizona, including Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona, Williams, Jerome, Antelope Canyon, and Page. They offer many all-inclusive rides to many of the most beautiful, iconic locations in Northern Arizona.
Pink Jeep Tours: This tour company started in Sedona, AZ, offering adventures to the gorgeous, red rocks and off-trail roads so well known in Sedona. They have since expanded to offer tours at the South Rim of Grand Canyon, as well as other places in the US. They offer many off-roading experiences in Sedona, and many rim tours of Grand Canyon departing from Sedona.
Wildland Trekking: We know Wildland Trekking mostly for the backpacking/day hiking trips they offer in Grand Canyon, but they offer hiking tours throughout the world too. For those of you that fall in love with the hikes we do on your Grand Canyon rafting trip, you can travel deep into Grand Canyon via some of the hikes available from the rim. It’s great to do it with an experienced company though, which is where this one comes into play. From day tours to inn-based tours, they have a little bit of something for everyone.
Arizona Snowbowl: This is our local ski resort in Flagstaff, AZ, but it’s open during the summer as well. You can take a sunset gondola ride during the summer, among many other fun summer activities for the whole family!
GC Railway: Departing from Williams, AZ, traveling through the pines getting to the South Rim of Grand Canyon, this train ride features western musicians and cowboy characters. This train ride started in 1901 and has been bringing a unique Grand Canyon experience to visitors ever since. It’s a full day adventure, sure to bring joy to people of all ages.
Bright Angel Bicycle Rentals: You can rent bikes and take a self-paced ride along the South Rim of Grand Canyon, or book a bike riding tour with this agency. They now have an electric bike option too! Great for the whole family.
Pioneer Museum: It is temporarily closed, at the time of this blog being posted, but with great hopes and expectations of opening again soon, so we wanted to leave it here! It’s a great piece of history to Flagstaff, and was a former hospital built in 1908 that housed remnants of northern Arizona’s farming and transportation past. You can see the 1929 Baldwin Locomotive No. 12 used for logging here in Flagstaff, as well an Iron Lung ventilator used to treat polio patients in the 1950s.
Clarkdale Kayak Company: After you fall in love with rafting in Grand Canyon, and are still in the area for some short, Class I-II river adventure, try kayaking the Verde River, which is about an hour south of Flagstaff. You’ll kayak for about 2.5 hours on a 3.5 mile stretch of the river, and enjoy some beautiful scenery. They take kiddos as young as 5, which makes this a great family adventure.
Verde Canyon Railroad: Take a train ride through the beautiful Verde Valley Canyon along the Verde River. This is a “4 hour, 20 mile journey through 110 years of history” according to their website. You’ll see towering red buttes, steep ravines, bald eagles and plenty of other wildlife along this beautiful, family-friendly journey.
Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course: For more to do in the Flagstaff area, at the local fairgrounds, there is this adventure course, offering multiple large circuits, as well as zipline options. There are courses for different challenges, and difficulty levels, as well as kids adventure course. Ages 7+ are welcome to participate!
Arboretum at Flagstaff: This is a great place to see gardens, wild woodlands, prairies, a beautiful view of the San Francisco Peaks, all at Flagstaff’s high elevation. You’ll see native to Flagstaff plants, along with many other beautiful greeneries and plant life. They are only open starting in May through end of October, Wednesday through Sunday, but that’s pretty perfect timing for our river trips!
Lava Tubes: Located 14 miles north of Flagstaff, is a really neat experience where you can hike, walk, maybe stumble a bit, through an old lava tube said to be 700,000 years old. At ¾ of a mile long, it’s a neat adventure for those without a fear of tight spaces. You do have to scramble a bit to get into it, and then out of it, but once you’re at the ground level, it levels out mostly. This is appropriate for the whole family, but you will want to consider the difficulty of it for everyone (see link for all details). Although it’s open year-round, the road getting to it could be closed certain times of year due to weather or fire restrictions. Contact them ahead of time to make sure it’s open before you head there.
Northern Arizona is an iconic place due to its centralized location to so many world-renowned locations. Whether you’re beginning or ending your Grand Canyon raft adventure in Northern Arizona, or are just in the area wanting to know what to do around here, we hope this list helps you think of some ideas!