Running and Traveling: Flagstaff, AZ and the Grand Canyon

IMG_2256I have been to Vegas 7 times for work and never had the time to go to the Grand Canyon. I decided that this was the time and flew into Vegas the weekend before I had to start working.

We stayed in an lovely Airbnb in downtown Flagstaff and spent the weekend exploring Flagstaff and visiting the Grand Canyon. After a long day of traveling (4.5hr flight then a 4hr drive), we arrived at Flagstaff in the dark so I had no idea what it looked like. Flagstaff is a lovely mountain town with great food and coffee and it’s so walkable. It’s very similar to Banff, AB but with more local restaurants and shops.

The next morning I woke up to mountain views and we were out on a beautiful drive to the Grand Canyon.

No one ever talks about that if you’re coming from somewhere near sea level (i.e. Toronto) that both Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon are both at high elevation (7,000 and 8,000 ft. respectively). I didn’t have any trouble with elevation but when I tried to go running in Flagstaff, I was dying going 1-2min/km slower than at home but more on that later.

IMG_2258When we arrived at the Grand Canyon, it was stunning but not at all what I expected. I always assumed that the rim of the canyon was desert but it’s a forest! Also, the canyon is more of a gradual descent than I was expecting.

The north rim is closed in the winter so I only saw the south rim which has no view of the Colorado River unfortunately. Callum and I are planning to go back to explore and run the Grand Canyon but this trip was just to see it finally.

IMG_2264It was really snowy in Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon and as we drove in the highway signs read “do not pull over to play in the snow”, coming from Canada I thought it was a funny joke. It was no joke!

On the drive back from the Grand Canyon, the road was littered with people who had pulled over to play in the snow on the side of the road. There were hundreds of them! They were throwing snowballs, sledding on tiny, tiny inclines and just walking around in the snow. I’ve never seen anything like it!

IMG_2273When we got back to Flagstaff, I decided to go running in Buffalo Park, which connects to the Arizona Trail. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to be outside. Because it was around 10C and sunny outside, the snow covered trails were tricky to run on but it was one of the most beautiful runs I’ve ever been on. It was also more of a run/hike because of the elevation but I was happy to just be outside exploring.

IMG_2270I wish I had had more time to explore and run because there was an extensive trail system around Flagstaff and I only got to see a portion of it. You could spend days just exploring the trails around there and I plan to eventually go back and do exactly that.

After a busy weekend of exploring and sightseeing, it was time to drive back to Vegas to go to work. Up next, a post about trail running in Vegas. Yes, there are trails in Vegas it turns out!

What’s the best place you’ve ever run? Have you ever found unexpected trails?

Happy running!

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