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Susan's Travels Tours + Trips
April 05, 2014, 05:00 AM By Susan Cohn Daily Journal

Susan Cohn/Daily Journal
WHEN DINOSAURS ROAMED ARIZONA. Docent Norman Mayes, left, discusses a life-sized model of a Dilophosaurus with a visitor to the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. The first specimens of this distinctive double-crested dinosaur, which lived about 200 million years ago, were discovered near Flagstaff in 1942. A version of Dilophosaurus was prominently featured in the movie Jurassic Park.

FROM DINOSAURS TO ART: FLAGSTAFF, ARIZ., HOLDS TREASURES OF THE COLORADO PLATEAU. The 130,000 square miles of the geologic area known as the Colorado Plateau sweep over large portions of northern Arizona, western Colorado, northwestern New Mexico and southeastern Utah, holding spectacular eroded canyons (including the Grand Canyon) and river narrows (the roaring Colorado River and its tributaries). The frontier-flavored city of Flagstaff sitting at an altitude of 6,900 feet on the southwest edge of this uplifted region, is a traditional portal to the Plateau and an ideal stop for visitors wanting to learn about the life in the high desert.


THE MUSEUM OF NORTHERN ARIZONA. The natural and human history of the Colorado Plateau is set out with style and clarity in Flagstaff’s Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA), whose nine permanent galleries cover an arching timeline that embraces the Jurassic (dinosaurs) to Gen Y (contemporary fine arts). The Museum was founded in 1928 by zoologist Dr. Harold S. Colton and artist Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton, Philadelphians who came to Flagstaff in 1926. The Coltons wanted to inspire a sense of love and responsibility for the beauty and diversity of the Colorado Plateau. They saw the museum as a way to preserve local Native American artifacts and natural history specimens close to their sites of origin, countering the then usual practice of shipping acquisitions to out-of-area museums and repositories. Because of the Coltons’ foresight and personal dedication, visitors today enjoy imaginative and informative displays drawn from the 600,000 artifacts in MNA’s collection.

Longtime Flagstaff resident and MNA Docent Norman Mayes said: “People come from the four corners of the world to this museum because of its unique emphasis on the cultural and natural histories of the Colorado Plateau. It has been my experience that they are drawn to the amazing geological landscapes and the history of the cultures that populated this area over the last 10,000 years or so. As we tour the museum with them, they are fascinated with the story of how creative the mind of prehistoric man was in utilizing the resources of this sometimes unforgiving land and how his descendants continue that tradition, merging the spirituality of the land with the practicality of their existence.”

The Museum of Northern Arizona is set in creekside trees at 3101 North Fort Valley Road in Flagstaff. The Museum shop features an extensive inventory of hand-forged silverwork jewelry, Hopi Katsina (or “Kachina” in English) dolls, Navajo rugs, Zuni Fetish carvings, hand-coiled Pueblo pottery and Southwestern baskets. The bookstore specializes in subjects about the Colorado Plateau. For more information visit or call (928) 774-5213.


ANNUAL FLAGSTAFF FESTIVALS CELEBRATE NATIVE CULTURES. The Museum of Northern Arizona hosts four weekend-long annual festivals that provide insight into the area’s Hopi, Navajo, Zuni and Hispanic cultures. Meet Native artists, performers, ethnobotanists and cultural interpreters. 24th Annual Zuni Festival of Arts and Culture: Saturday and Sunday May 24-25. 81st Annual Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture: Saturday and Sunday July 5-6. 65th Annual Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture: Saturday and Sunday Aug. 2-3. 11th Annual Celebraciónes de la Gente: A Lively Celebration of the Day of the Dead. Saturday and Sunday Oct. 25-26.


ART GALLERIES ON FLAGSTAFF’S HISTORIC NORTH SAN FRANCISCO STREET. A vibrant local art community finds expression in the galleries and shops on North San Francisco Street, just off Route 66 in the historic center of downtown Flagstaff. On the first Friday of each month, locals and out-of-towners gather as these businesses remain open from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. with special exhibitions, performances and live music. One block away is the venerable Hotel Weatherford (opened on New Year’s Day 1900) where Thomas Moran, the great painter of the American West, stayed while he sketched the Grand Canyon just 75 miles away. Moran and his work were influential in convincing President Theodore Roosevelt to declare the site a National Monument and by 1919 Congress had established Grand Canyon National Park. Moran’s large-scale watercolor “The Grand Canyon,” painted to commemorate Arizona statehood in 1912, hangs in a prominent public space in the Weatherford.


AND REMEMBER: Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. — Miriam Beard.

Susan Cohn is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association, Bay Area Travel Writers, and the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. She may be reached at



Tags: museum, colorado, plateau, flagstaff, arizona, annual,

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