Flagstaff is a city in central Arizona that is surrounded by the spectacular mountain scenery of the San Francisco Range. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty preserved in multiple national parks, forests, and monuments. Understandably, situated in such a region as it is, Flagstaff attracts many visitors who come to stroll around its quaint, historic downtown and stock up on provisions before heading out to the wildernesses to admire the landscapes and enjoy some outdoor recreation time.
With the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument to the north, the Walnut Canyon National Monument to the east and the Coconino National Forest to the south, they don't have far to go. The Slide Rock State Park and the Red Rock State Park are also within a short driving distance of the city. Plus the iconic Grand Canyon National Park is only eighty miles away from the city's outer limits.
If you're visiting Flagstaff you may well be thinking that if you lived there you'd never want to leave and who can argue with that? But when you've lived there for a while and see the same thing day in day out, even the most incredible natural beauty can start to become just a little jaded. So, when you have family free time, plan to get away for a while and do something different with the kids.
Head east on the I 40 for a weekend RV road trip from Flagstaff to Roswell in New Mexico for a complete change of scene. While the stops along the way are semi-educational, they're fun too. The young ones will be so fascinated by what they see they won't even realize they're learning something. Take them to see an enormous meteor crater, go hiking through ancient Hopi villages, teach them how to fish while camping out by a lake, then show them the size of the dinosaurs that once walked the earth in a natural history museum. It might only be a weekend road trip but you, and they, will be amazed at how much you can pack into a couple of days.
After you've set off from Flagstaff and been on the road for around an hour, following alongside the old historic Route 66, pull off the I 40 at junction 233 and head down Meteor Crater Road. The roadway leads to the Meteor Crater National Landmark.
There's plenty of space by the visitor discovery center for parking even the biggest of rigs and no charge for using the parking facility. Generally, tours of the crater take about two hours so you'll still have the rest of the day to get some more miles between you and Flagstaff.
The meteor crater was formed over fifty million years ago and the impact from the crash created an indentation in the Arizona Desert a mile wide and over five-hundred feet deep. A guided tour of the crater includes a hike around the meteor rim, as well as entry to the on-site museum and a film show in the theater about meteors, meteorites, and asteroids.
Before you leave the state of Arizona and enter into New Mexico on your family weekend road trip from Flagstaff to Roswell, take the kids for a hike in the Homolovi State Park. The park does have a campground for RVs that's open all year round, but as it's only around seventy miles from Flagstaff and you're only on the road for a couple of days, you might prefer to choose somewhere a little further along the route for your first camp out.
The park contains many well-preserved Native American Hopi villages dating from the fourteenth century as well as several hundred archaeological sites that predate those. Set out on the trails in the Homolovi State Park and the young ones will not only get some exercise, they'll be stepping back into Arizona's ancient past.
There are five different trails of an easily manageable length for any age group. All of the trails have informative signage explaining what you're passing and the nature or wildlife you're likely to spot while walking. Before you go, download the kids a Junior Ranger Activity Pack from the park website to take with them when you go. It'll inspire their interest in history and archaeology.
After motoring two-hundred and thirty miles across the arid terrains of Arizona, you'll be ready to see some water. Pitch up at the Bluewater Lake State Park and you won't be disappointed with the lake views or the campground. There are four small campgrounds distributed around the shores of Bluewater Lake and all operate on a first-come-first-served basis.
There are between four to ten campsites only at each campground so don't expect to encounter any crowds. It's quiet and a true get-back-to-nature spot where the camping is mostly primitive apart from at the Pinon Cliffs Campground which has reasonable on-site amenities.
Once you've pitched camp set out hiking around the lake shores to do some bird spotting with the kids, take them kayaking, canoeing or boating if you're towing your own craft. Then, sit back and relax by your campfire as the sun goes down over the Zuni Mountains. A road trip with the family really doesn't get much better than that.
As you continue on your road trip from Flagstaff to Roswell, head into Albuquerque to visit the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Once you've parked up and are heading to the entrance, the kids will be intrigued from the word go when they see the gigantic dinosaur statues, nicknamed Spike and Albert, outside.
The museum is a modern and spacious installation with diverse collections of world-class exhibits. There are eight interconnecting galleries that follow the passing of time from the creation of the universe to the Ice Age. As well as the permanent displays, the museum houses many temporary ones and there is also a mini-zoo with reptiles and insects. Guaranteed the exhibit the kids will love most are the authentic dinosaur skeletons of the Jurassic Super Giants. They're thought-provoking and just a little scary.
If the visit to the meteor crater at the start of your family weekend road trip from Flagstaff has piqued the kids interest in space, they'll be literally begging you to take them to the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell. Fun but still informative, at the museum they'll be able to see lots of alien-related stuff including sightings, crop circles and the technology used for listening for alien transmissions. It's a great way to end your weekend road trip that will have the kids scanning the night skies for much more than stars the next time you camp out with them.