Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve

Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve is located in northeast Flagstaff. It is a natural and cultural amenity to northern Arizona. An agreement with the nearby Wildcat Hill Wastewater Treatment Plant ensures a year-long water source, providing critical riparian habitat for wildlife and songbirds.

The Northern Sinagua occupied the area between 700 and 1300 A.D. and there are significant cultural and archaeological resources present on the property, including nearly 800 petroglyphs, excavated pithouses, pottery sherds, and more.

The City of Flagstaff acquired the 478-acre Preserve from the Arizona State Land Department in 2012 with funding from the 2004 voter-approved Open Space bond and a Growing Smarter Grant from Arizona State Parks.The acquisition of Picture Canyon provides a natural place for members of the Flagstaff community to learn about ecology, geology, and archaeology, while participating in outdoor recreation.

Check out our brochure and trail map to learn more about the Preserve's resources and trail system.

For more information about the history of Picture Canyon, click here.

In 2016, the Museum of Northern Arizona published Picture Canyon - People, Petroglyphs, and Place. This publication includes details about the ecology, archaeology, and history of the Preserve. You can purchase it from the Museum bookstore, or online, to learn more about Picture Canyon.

Directions
A Google map of Picture Canyon can be found here.
From Tucson/Phoenix/all points south of Flagstaff:
  • Take I-17 to eastbound I-40 in Flagstaff.
  • Take exit 201 (Country Club), turn left onto Country Club Boulevard
  • At the intersection with Highway 89 North, turn right.
  • At the second signal, turn right onto Marketplace and travel about 1 mile to the T intersection with Test Place.
  • Turn right, and at the next stop sign, turn left onto old Route 66.
  • Drive 1 per 2 mile and turn left onto El Paso Flagstaff Road.
  • You will see a sign for the Wildcat Water Treatment Plant. Stay on this road, which curves to the right around the water treatment plant property. There will be a parking lot on your right.

Recreation


Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve is a great place to hike, mountain bike, horseback ride, photograph the natural environment, watch wildlife, experience fall colors, and discover cultural resources, including petroglyphs.

The Preserve is open to the public year round.

There are portable toilets available at the trailhead off of El Paso Flagstaff Road.

Picture Canyon has been designated as an Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience Site given the number of birds and mammals that call Picture Canyon home.

Please follow proper cultural resource etiquette as well as state and federal laws. Do not deface ruins or remove artifacts from the Preserve.

Tamara Hastie 663_Edited_LowRes.jpg
View of the inner canyon at Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve.

Photo Credit: Tamara Hastie
Picture Canyon Low Res Map.JPG
To learn more about the plants found in the Preserve, view our plant list.

You can download a geo-referenced map of the trail system to your smart phone here.

Trail Information:
Trail Name Distance Important Information
Don Weaver 0.7 miles Provides views of the inner canyon and lush riparian area. As of 04-2015, this trail has not been formally designated or constructed. Some elevation change required climbing out of the canyon.
Tom Moody Loop 2.8 miles Utilizes abandoned road beds to form an outer loop around the Preserve. There is currently no directional signage installed. Relatively flat trail.
Arizona Trail
(within Preserve)
1.5 miles A segment of the 800+ mile trail that connects Mexico and Utah. Trail is easy to distinguish and there is little change in elevation in this portion.

Regulations
Hunting, fishing, woodcutting, or motorized vehicles are not allowed within the Preserve. Do not climb on the Canyon walls or swim in the Rio de Flag.

Events



The City of Flagstaff Open Space Program has partnered with Willow Bend Environmental Education Center to provide a series of free tours of Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve this summer. Each tour will have a different focus. Please meet us at the Picture Canyon trailhead off of El Paso Flagstaff Road to participate.

Saturday, August 26th, 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 30th, 9:00am - 11:30am.
  • Guided Tour for Flagstaff Festival of Science. RSVP to Erin O'Keefe, Open Space Aide, at EO'Keefe@flagstaffaz.gov to participate.
Saturday, October 21st, 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.