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  1. #1
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    Possible move to Prescott of Flag - which has better riding

    Possible move coming my way next year. Currently live in Colorado Springs and wanted to get a feel for the riding north of PHX...Which town has the most and best riding - Prescott or Flagstaff? I have spent time biking in Tucson, but I am guessing it is quite different up North.

    Thanks in advance for the replies!

  2. #2
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    Try Sedona. Good riding there too and then you'll be right between Flag and Prescott. Bonus points for you if you're into Tarot, palm reading, healing vortices, pink jeeps and would like to become an Aquarian.

    Myself, I'd have a hard time picking one or the other. Riding is pretty sweet in both places. Riding is definitely a lot different than Tucson/PHX. You can actually find shade and less plants want to gouge your eyes out if you take a spill.
    Today's the day I eat bikes.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoomie
    Possible move coming my way next year. Currently live in Colorado Springs and wanted to get a feel for the riding north of PHX...Which town has the most and best riding - Prescott or Flagstaff? I have spent time biking in Tucson, but I am guessing it is quite different up North.

    Thanks in advance for the replies!
    Flag, and it's not even close. But cost of living it outrageous, at least for AZ. Not sure compared to CS.
    Nobody gives a s#$t you singlespeed.

  4. #4
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    Flagstaff, but (and everyone always likes to promote the place they live) realize that it's under snow part of the year and there's no riding. Flagstaff got dumped on last season pretty well, it's a mountain town, there's a ski resort, it's no-riding in Flagstaff during that time effectively.

    Prescott has hundreds of miles of trails that do not shut down, the benefit of Prescott is that it's pretty nice all year, Flagstaff, Sedona and Phoenix are pretty easy trips (Sedona is the closest of the three). We have several major trail-areas, and are surrounded by mountains/forest on 3 sides, the options for bigger rides are pretty good, especially if you like racking up lots of vertical.

    Flagstaff on the other hand DOES have Sedona pretty close by in terms of time (30 min or so).

    We have some alpine riding around Prescott, but Flagstaff is pretty much all alpine riding. There are aspens, firs, spruces, etc.

    Flagstaff is a true college town and has a much more "outdorsy" vibe. Prescott has a bit of this, but is more of a "western/cowboy" town. Last time I was in Flag (last weekend) the girlfield agreed that we liked Flagstaff restaurants better than Prescott, not that ours suck, but the combination of the peaks, grand-canyon gateway, highway 40, and NAU, all gaurentee pretty good options.

    Prescott riding starts at about 5,000'-5,500' and goes up to just shy of 8,000'. Most Flagstaff riding starts at about 7,000' and goes up to a little past 9,000', save for a few routes that go a bit above 9,500' (at least one is gone now due to fire).
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  5. #5
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    Prescott. .
    Winter riding: advantage Prescott.
    Location to other riding: Sedona and Flag to the north, Phoenix to the south. advantage Prescott.
    Access to all local trails from town: advantage Prescott.

    Jeff

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoomie
    Possible move coming my way next year. Currently live in Colorado Springs and wanted to get a feel for the riding north of PHX...Which town has the most and best riding - Prescott or Flagstaff? I have spent time biking in Tucson, but I am guessing it is quite different up North.

    Thanks in advance for the replies!
    Guys, he said which has better riding. Are you suggesting the riding is better in Prescott? If so, I'd say you're definitely biased.
    Nobody gives a s#$t you singlespeed.

  7. #7
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    I hear Prescott is sweat but I LOVE Flag!

  8. #8
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    Flagstaff. Hands down. If you live in flag you get the best riding in the state from may-ish to november-ish and when it snows world class riding in sedona is less than one hour away from your fire place. Flagstaff is the place to be. The city has a population of 60k and there are six bike shops in town. This town loves mountain biking.

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    Well, Flagstaff is my first choice, but I didn't know how good the riding was. Being from CO, the skiing in town is a bonus and I am not afraid of the snow. My house is at 6800', so it sounds like the riding in Flagstaff is more on par with riding here, with the Alpine riding. BUT, how close is the riding - do you have to go out to get to the trails or can you access trails from close in to town.

    Second, I have some kids - any idea on schools and family life, and oh yeah - beer!

    Thanks for the info!

  10. #10
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    Beaver Street Brewery. leave the kids in Colorado Springs .

  11. #11
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    Honestly I think the Prescott Brewing Company has much better beer, but the food is only so-so (except for the wings, best in town!). The Beaver Street Brewery has better food, but so-so beer compared to what I'm used to. I typically find the PBC stuff better crafted and more adventurous. Both are above anything you'll find in a supermarket for sure. We got lots of eateries in Prescott and so does Flag. I don't know how "bored" one might get on the trails in Flagstaff, and the same thing might happen here. The great thing is that we have some great riding palces all-around that you can use to mix it up a lot. Even if I lived in Flag, I wouldn't ride there every day, I'd go to other places just like I do now. Williams, Mingus, Cottonwood, BCT, Payson, and so on are all within easy reach of either location.

    We probably have a little more on the medical-center side with hospitals in Prescott Valley and Prescott, and with over 100,000 people in the local area we have more stores as well, more "big-city" type stuff, but Flagstaff isn't far behind either.

    From where I live in Prescott Valley, Sedona is only 45 min away, if you lived in the far SE corner of Prescott Valley, it would only be about 30 minutes via 169 and 17. I'm sure it's the same thing with Flagstaff, so it's probably almost the same unless you're living in the far southern tip of Flagstaff or other nearby community. When people say "Sedona", it usually encompasses Oak Creek and Sedona, and each have good trailheads. If you are comming from the South you usually park and stage from Oak Creek. If from the West then West Sedona, if from the North then North/Midtown Sedona and possibly Oak Creek depending on if you took 89A or I-17 to get there.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phillbo
    Beaver Street Brewery.
    Yes! I still dream about their sun-dried tomato burger. The fries are the best around too. Super busy on weekends but hey, if you move there, you can go on Monday.
    Today's the day I eat bikes.

  13. #13
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    If your coming from Colorado and like to ski and have four seasons then Flag no doubt. I have lived in Whitefish, Steamboat, Alta, Jackson and Telluride and this is by far the coolest place I have ever lived. A mountain town without an attitude, with cool people and a very laid back vibe. Flag is the good life, dogs off leashes, cold beers on outdoor patios and beautiful girls. 300 days of sunshine, killer summers, Sedona a 40 minute drive in the winters and an awesome community and by the way, the skiing when is good is WAY better then one would imagine. DEEP powder skiing, 4000 vert tree runs, steep chutes and bowls and a huge backcountry off the area. I wouldn't live anywhere else now.

  14. #14
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    I would add a word of warning about the arizona "ski resorts", Snowbowl has horrible lift lines w/everyone from Flagstaff/Phoenix etc there (they often close off the road due to the resort being at capacity), the only "real" lift that rises any vert at Flagstaff is usually on wind hold and opens at about 12 or later, due to extreme arizona sun the slopes are usually icy/poor in the morning, rental options are poor, services are what you'd expect for a ski-only mountain (in that respect it's not a "resort")-but if you've experienced places like Vail, Squaw, etc, it's obviously on a totally different level. Of course all of this is IF the resort even gets snow/opens. Some winters they've only been open for ridiculously short periods like a couple weeks.

    It's great skiing "for Arizona", but Snowbowl can be frustrating and dissapointing.

    Now, if backcountry skiing is your thing, there are some fun options. It's still a fairly small area compared to having the entire rockies or sierras nearby, but as raisingarizona says, there are some big descents on the slopes, and the quality of snow is good right after a storm (real light dry powder, not crap).

    I've done my share of skiing back in the day, and honestly I would never use Snowbowl as a deciding factor. If you've skied anywhere else it's hard to find it very attractive. On the other hand again, backcountry is something totally different.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem



    From where I live in Prescott Valley, Sedona is only 45 min away, if you lived in the far SE corner of Prescott Valley, it would only be about 30 minutes via 169 and 17.
    How fast do you drive JM? PV to VOC via 169/17 is 50 miles. PV to West Sedona via 169/17/Cottonwood 55 miles. PV to West Sedona via Jerome is at least 45 miles.

    Forgot, you fly places.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by azjeff
    How fast do you drive JM? PV to VOC via 169/17 is 50 miles. PV to West Sedona via 169/17/Cottonwood 55 miles. PV to West Sedona via Jerome is at least 45 miles.

    Forgot, you fly places.
    PV to West Sedona from where I live is quick and easy. I live in Viewpoint, it's right at the start of 89a where it branches into 89a and Fain Rd. That means a quick hop over Mingus and it's pretty damn close. Mingus is a bit slow, Cottonwood is not too bad, as most of it is 50mph (limit 45).

    43.2 miles according to Yahoo maps.

    And yeah about 48-50 miles from SE PV to Oak Creek according to the map. Assuming 70mph on 169 (limit is 65) and 80mph on I-17 (limit is 75) then yeah, it's pretty quick.

    I would never advise trying to get THROUGH Sedona to ride. No matter where you are comming from, ALWAYS go the direction that gets you to where you want to ride, do not DRIVE THROUGH Sedona, it will take more time to do this than it takes to drive the other route. So if I'm going to West Sedona, I go over Mingus due to how close I live. If I'm going to Oak Creek, I go 169/I-17. The road to Oak Creek is often gridlocked in mid-town Sedona.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoomie
    Well, Flagstaff is my first choice, but I didn't know how good the riding was. Being from CO, the skiing in town is a bonus and I am not afraid of the snow. My house is at 6800', so it sounds like the riding in Flagstaff is more on par with riding here, with the Alpine riding. BUT, how close is the riding - do you have to go out to get to the trails or can you access trails from close in to town.

    Second, I have some kids - any idea on schools and family life, and oh yeah - beer!

    Thanks for the info!
    Zoomie, to answer your first question, the greater amount of riding will be in Flagstaff. I would say the "best" riding is also in Flagstaff but you never said what type of riding your prefer. Also, there are two conservation corps here in Flagstaff that get paid to build and maintain trails. That is in addition to the Forest Service trail crew and volunteers that are organized in part by a local biking organization. The result is a trail system that is quickly expanding while also being maintained for sustainability. I've supervised a paid trail crew in Prescott and what gets done there is on a much smaller scale.

    Last year I was out mountain biking on the third week of December in Flagstaff. It's not unusual over the past 14 years. The ski resort has had years it never opened or was open only a few days, due to lack of snow. Flagstaff gets an average of 100 inches of snow and the ski resort gets around 200, on average. We have had years with only 30+ inches of snow. Those winteres can be followed by drought conditions that cause trail closures and fire restrictions.In 1996, the trails close in early May and did not reopen until the seasonal rains created safer conditions two months later. I did a lot of riding in Durango that year.

    You asked; How close is the riding? Someone posted that Prescott rides were closer to town. They were wrong. I do all rides in Flagstaff from my home, as most locals do. There are many access points and many of us are lucky and live backed to the woods and trails.

    Many, if not most riders in Flagstaff, make numerous trips to Sedona in the winter, to ride. I don't care much for the trails in Sedona, but I still make a few trips there when I'm not camping and riding in Tucson or Phoenix. It is hard to find a more beautiful setting than Sedona and it is likely you will find some trails you will love.

    I think raisingarizona may be over stating what Flagstaff has to offer, as others may be understaing it. Is it the coolest place? I'd say no. It's great but I've spent time in the northwest, and Oregon has much more to offer. Real estate can be higher than some expect but I lived in one place ten years, paying $210 a month for space rent at a mobile home park centrally located, so it doesn't have to be expensive to live here. Yes, there are some cool people, and there are some that are not. The dogs off leashes comment was somewhat true as most people ignore the leash law. Downtown, you will be ticketed if your dog is off leash.

    My opinion is that the local schools are poorly run. We have had two votes for budget overrides in the last year, raising our property taxes again. They have closed several schools to save money, combining students into other schools this fall. Students have faired poorly on achievement tests, if you put any weight in those AIMS tests. Home schooling or charter schools are an option. On the other hand, if you currently have a good scholl system, your children will likely be in the top 1% in Arizona. A comedian once joked about how then Governor Bill Clinton bragged about taking Arkansas from ranking 50th to ranking 49th in education. What was the secret? Pencils! I think Arizona ranks near the bottom, currently.

    You will find a number of good ethnic restaurants; Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican. The Chinese restaurants are mostly bad, as is the last remaining Vietnamese restaurant. One restaurant I drive by appears to advertise itself as Swiss. Don't know what they serve. Despite a university, the music scene is as dead as disco. Expect to drive to Phoenix or Tucson to see a good show. In this day and age, it probably won't matter that there is no radio station playing much other than classic rock. I assume most people burn their own songs to play when driving.

    Crime is relatively low. You'll see the same level of property crimes here as most any town this size that has a good many low income families. I believe the police are estimating that nearly 90% of property crimes are a result of meth users needing cash for drugs (sound almost like a government program). Yes, it's really that bad all over, not just here. Flagstaff typically has only a couple murders a year. Two this year, so far. A drug dealer murdered someone who ripped him off and a alcoholic transient killed another alcoholic transient. I think that's been it. You'll need to be sensitive to the fact that a disporportianate number of the street drunks are Navajo. I see about a dozen per week, and they usually are not overly agressive.

    This is not a military town like Colorado Springs. Something almost the opposite. Lot's of dreadlocks and hippies, lots of stoners (am I being redundant?), and generally a left-leaning town, politcally and socially. In November, it is likely that Arixona will decriminalize marijuana, again. I think Arizona passed similar propositions 4-5 times in the past, that were somehow struck down. Expect even slower service at local restaurants if it passes and become law.

    Lastly, if you have an opinion about border control or illegal immigrants, it would be wise to keep it to yourself if you live in Flagstaff. In Prescott, you have a different demographic.

    Good luck to you. Your first lengua buritto is on me.


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  18. #18
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    Folks, I appreciate your comments and value your inside information. Was showing Mrs. Zoomie these posts and she wanted to ask some questions. I realize this is a bit of a thread creep so I apologize, but appreciate responses. FWIW, I like XC singletrack but never turn down a good ride. My rig is a Fisher HiFi 29er.

    I'm the wife of "zoomie". I don't mtn bike, but I'm a mountain girl thru and thru. I was born and raised in Colorado. We "should" move closer to Phoenix for my husbands job, but, I'm having a very hard time leaving the mountains. Flag seems to be the only compromise. BUT I'm also a mom, and care about schools and environment. Am I asking for too much? Politically I'm fairly "middle road". Not too far right or left, but if I had to say, I lean more toward the right. My fear in moving to Flag is that there isn't much for family life... and that it's more of a college town. WE LOVE to go out and listen to bands, love culture, and love the night life... Is Flag better for that than Prescott? It's a tough call though, because night life usually conflicts with family life.
    Also, I own horses. I know it's much easier to find horse property in Prescott. BUT the homes in Flag are so much more appealing because they are more updated. Schools in Flag are worse than Prescott, BUT, I don't know if I could handle the heat in the summer and the flat landscape. Any advice for a mom who's a thru and thru mountain girl????

  19. #19
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    Flag.....in a word VARIETY, which Prescott does NOT have. However, you can ride the same type of XC stuff almost year around here in P-town if you can handle the monotony.

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    Jayem is right with the Brewery, PBC is probably the best in the state although I think food quality has gone downhill sadly since I moved here in '06

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoomie
    Folks, I appreciate your comments and value your inside information. Was showing Mrs. Zoomie these posts and she wanted to ask some questions. I realize this is a bit of a thread creep so I apologize, but appreciate responses. FWIW, I like XC singletrack but never turn down a good ride. My rig is a Fisher HiFi 29er.

    I'm the wife of "zoomie". I don't mtn bike, but I'm a mountain girl thru and thru. I was born and raised in Colorado. We "should" move closer to Phoenix for my husbands job, but, I'm having a very hard time leaving the mountains. Flag seems to be the only compromise. BUT I'm also a mom, and care about schools and environment. Am I asking for too much? Politically I'm fairly "middle road". Not too far right or left, but if I had to say, I lean more toward the right. My fear in moving to Flag is that there isn't much for family life... and that it's more of a college town. WE LOVE to go out and listen to bands, love culture, and love the night life... Is Flag better for that than Prescott? It's a tough call though, because night life usually conflicts with family life.
    Also, I own horses. I know it's much easier to find horse property in Prescott. BUT the homes in Flag are so much more appealing because they are more updated. Schools in Flag are worse than Prescott, BUT, I don't know if I could handle the heat in the summer and the flat landscape. Any advice for a mom who's a thru and thru mountain girl????
    Mrs. Zoomie:

    Prescott is anything but flat. Out toward Prescott Valley and in PV itself it is, but Prescott proper definitely is and feels like a mountain town. Flag is more alpine-like, but if you lived in Prescott you would be in a "hilly" town surrounded by mountains. In fact, when my wife and I moved here two years ago, we had a hard time finding a home with a flat lot for our kids! Prescott's definitely hotter than Flag in the summer but still very pleasant 80-90% of the time, and the winters aren't nearly as harsh (but I can only take snow in limited amounts).

    My wife and I have been happy with the schools. Prescott's definitely more conservative overall than Flag.

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    Jayem doesn't know how to ski the goods. hehe. It's a good thing though, we don't really want outsiders knowing how it really is so yeah it sucks. I moved here from Jackson and it can be good......I mean sucky.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by tls36
    Jayem is right with the Brewery, PBC is probably the best in the state although I think food quality has gone downhill sadly since I moved here in '06
    The best in the state is oak creek brewey followed by four peaks. And that is a fact!!!
    Nobody gives a s#$t you singlespeed.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoomie
    Folks, I appreciate your comments and value your inside information. Was showing Mrs. Zoomie these posts and she wanted to ask some questions. I realize this is a bit of a thread creep so I apologize, but appreciate responses. FWIW, I like XC singletrack but never turn down a good ride. My rig is a Fisher HiFi 29er.

    I'm the wife of "zoomie". I don't mtn bike, but I'm a mountain girl thru and thru. I was born and raised in Colorado. We "should" move closer to Phoenix for my husbands job, but, I'm having a very hard time leaving the mountains. Flag seems to be the only compromise. BUT I'm also a mom, and care about schools and environment. Am I asking for too much? Politically I'm fairly "middle road". Not too far right or left, but if I had to say, I lean more toward the right. My fear in moving to Flag is that there isn't much for family life... and that it's more of a college town. WE LOVE to go out and listen to bands, love culture, and love the night life... Is Flag better for that than Prescott? It's a tough call though, because night life usually conflicts with family life.
    Also, I own horses. I know it's much easier to find horse property in Prescott. BUT the homes in Flag are so much more appealing because they are more updated. Schools in Flag are worse than Prescott, BUT, I don't know if I could handle the heat in the summer and the flat landscape. Any advice for a mom who's a thru and thru mountain girl????
    I will qualify this by saying I've always wanted to live in Flag. Outside Tucson, I think it's the best city in AZ.

    In general, Prescott is more right and Flag is more left. Because Flag is considered a college town, it has a lot of the attributes you'd typically find in Colorado. It has a pretty good music scene for a city of it's size, has a nice variety of restaurants and bars, and a nice downtown area. And of course, you have the mountains...

    I lived in Prescott for a year, and to be blunt I hated it. Keep in mind this was 15 years ago, and I didn't bike at the time. But the demographics are just so odd: you have the locals (mostly right-wing ranchers), with the college kids--Prescott College students (granolas)--Emory Riddle (the more "elite") and Yavapai College (mostly local kids--with at the time all the California transplants. It made for some culture clashes back in the late 90s. If might be different now, but at the time it was just a "odd" place.

    That's my opinion, and I'm sure others will have different ones.
    Nobody gives a s#$t you singlespeed.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoomie
    FWIW, I like XC singletrack but never turn down a good ride. My rig is a Fisher HiFi 29er.

    I'm the wife of "zoomie". I don't mtn bike, but I'm a mountain girl thru and thru. Flag seems to be the only compromise. BUT I'm also a mom, and care about schools and environment. Am I asking for too much?

    Politically I'm fairly "middle road". Not too far right or left, but if I had to say, I lean more toward the right. My fear in moving to Flag is that there isn't much for family life... and that it's more of a college town. WE LOVE to go out and listen to bands, love culture, and love the night life... Is Flag better for that than Prescott? It's a tough call though, because night life usually conflicts with family life.

    Also, I own horses. I know it's much easier to find horse property in Prescott. BUT the homes in Flag are so much more appealing because they are more updated. Schools in Flag are worse than Prescott, BUT, I don't know if I could handle the heat in the summer and the flat landscape. Any advice for a mom who's a thru and thru mountain girl????
    Zoomie, Your husband will find plenty of beautiful single track riding here in Flagstaff. So you'll have that covered.

    The weather will make for an easy transition because it will be similar to Colorado Springs. Further south and at lower elevations, you would experience increasingly hotter temps. You already know how hot Phoenix gets in summer. Even though Sedona is only 30 miles from Flagstaff, the temps are usually 15 degrees warmer than Flagstaff. That can be a plus in winter. Unless you find a charter school for your children, you will likely find them more crowded than where you currently live. Arizona is a fast growing state and is also a state with budget issues, causing spending cuts that will affect education funding.

    Flagstaff has a good split of conservative and liberal minded people. The liberal types spend more time downtown, involved in local culture. Most of us conservative types live further out and stay home more. There are many family friendly activities in Flagstaff. There is a public square downtown where live entertainment is scheduled on the weekends. People bring their children and seem to really enjoy it. There is an aquatic center where children can swim, several athletic clubs where they offer day care, and, of course, a local mall where teens enjoy hanging out. My wifes 9-year-old neice was visiting us last week and she enjoyed the summer sports camps at the Flag Athletic Club, along with their swimming pool. She also enjoyed some local hiking trails.

    The college is fairly large and students do converge on the downtown to drink and hang out. One of my passions is listening to music. As a result, I have developed and ear for certain types of music. I find the local music scene in Flagstaff to be odious. I can still listen to 5-10 hours of music daily, but it is music I gather from friends around the country and from visits to Austin's annual SxSW festival. Either you get used to bad reggae cover bands and bad jam bands, or you wait patiently for those 3-4 good shows that come through town each year; Wilco, Modest Mouse, Gourds, Lucinda Williams, Whiskeytown. There is a nice family friendly amphitheater located at the fairgrounds, where they scedule some bluegrass shows (pickin in the pines) and some nostalgia acts; Gin Blossoms. My advice is watch pollstar.com for upcoming acts in Phoenix, find someone to watch the kids, and make a trip to Phoenix for dinner and a show.

    There are a lot of horse properties on the edges of town. Prices in Flagstaff have dropped nearly 25% since their peak in 2006. Phoenix real estate has nosedived, dropping over 50% or more in many areas. I assume Prescott was also hit when the bubble burst. Depending on the price, you can find a horse property very close to town and to trails like the Arizona Trail that runs through and around Flagstaff.

    Your kids will love hiking local trails and viewing all the wild flowers. A mountain girl and her family could do a lot worse than Flagstaff.


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