Observing the Heavens in Flagstaff

The long roads of the west

The long roads of the west

We arrived at J&H RV in Flagstaff, worn out from a long day of touring the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest and driving west.  We settled into our site  in this well kept RV park. Many of the other campers were here for the cooler summer season up on the Coconino Plateau. We found the RV Park had lots of rules, probably why it was so neat and clean looking. Within an hour of arriving we were told we could not tie our Golden Retriever to the trees, since it might harm the bark (of the tree, not the dog.) We might have felt singled out but the same woman knocked on the door of the RV next door to us to issue the same warning about their bikes leaning on the trees.



After a good nights sleep we went down to the older section of Flagstaff and wandered around town.  Driving along we saw signs for the Lowell Observatory, so we climbed a steep hill and found a gem of a place. It is one of the oldest observatories in the US, having been established in 1894. It was here that Percival Lowell explored the heavens, and it was here that Pluto was discovered. (A good book I read about this was Percival’s Planet: a Novel by Michael Byers and it took place at this observatory) Nowadays scanning the skies is pretty much computer driven and done by reading printouts. This observatory had the original telescope, that had to be rotated across the sky manually in order to take a series of  photographs for comparison. We explored the museum and visitors center and discovered that our entry fee allowed us to come back at night and look through the original telescope as well as several other small ones that are available.

The Lowell telescope

The Lowell telescope

We killed some time tracking down another restaurant we had seen on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Salsa Brava and had dinner while we waited for the sun to set.  Hubby had to order the stuffed Sopapilla shown on the show and it was overkill even for him. The Mexican food was good but the thing that really impressed us was their salsa bar. They gave you a few small, empty bowls and you got to try any  of their 10 choices of salsa. They ranged from a mild red  through a pretty hot habanero and pineapple  (my personal favorite.)

Stomachs content, we climbed the hill overlooking Flagstaff and waited on line to get a peek at the heavens through the big scope. It is a big universe out there and it was a joy to see it up close and personal.  One of the smaller telescopes was set on Saturn and all its rings, it was like looking up at our full moon it was so close. A great close to an enjoyable and educational day. We have lots more to see in the area.

A 500 lB chunk of meteor

A 500 pound chunk of meteor

About JudithC99

Wanderer. Writer. Artist. Photographer. Learner. Traveler of the Red Roads


  1. This should be on our list but in the distant future, the next go round. We are fans of Triple D too, so what are your thoughts on the food from the featured restaurants?

    • We usually like the places we go based on DDD. Overall we haven’t been disappointed, it is just he’s usually checking places in bigger towns like Flagstaff and Santa Fe and we are usually on smaller backroads somewhere.

  2. Pingback: Mixing Lava Flows and Indian Ruins « Red Road Diaries

  3. frankeeg

    We have been to RV parks with so many rules they issue a small booklet. Mainly it is because they have so many “extras” which we neither need nor use but the cost of those extras are built into the fee structure. It is another reason we prefer low cost or Freedom campsites.

    • Hi there, sorry to be so lax about replying. We avoid the fully loaded parks most of the time for the same reason…the state and national parks offer less perks but more scenery. I have been taking the winter off, tending to an ailing parent and having surgery on my hand. Typing is still not easy. Time to hit the road again and head off to the wild western U.S., the Canadian Rockies, Vancouver Island and the west coast…a five month journey to places we have not yet been. We leave in three weeks or so.

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