Open Space & Natural Areas


View of the San Francisco Peaks from Observatory Mesa Natural Area Photo Copyright: Tom Bean PhotogrThe City of Flagstaff Open Space Program is responsible for managing over 3,000 acres of legally-designated open space properties, including Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve, Observatory Mesa Natural Area, and McMillan Mesa Natural Area. The Schultz Creek Trailhead is no longer open space, after three storm water retention basins needed to be constructed there to prevent flooding after the Pipeline Fire. For more information, see the City's Pipeline Fire West Flood Area webpage and the 11/2/2022 newsletter about the completion of those basins. 

To many Flagstaff area residents, open space is the defining feature of Flagstaff's character and attraction. Open space defines the region's quality of life, protects the region's ecological health, supports existing and future economic development, and preserves historic and cultural resources.

We use Open Space Stewards to accomplish much of our work. If you love our beautiful open spaces and want to get involved, visit or click on "Open Space Stewards" on the left side of this page for more information.

Flagstaff's Open Spaces program also provides, and partners with others to provide, outdoor and nature education to kids. For more information, visit or click on "Outdoor Education Project" on the left side of this page.

Guide to Outdoor Safety and Health

Bond Initiatives

In 2004, Flagstaff voters approved two bond initiatives to fund open space acquisition efforts. These funds were leveraged with Arizona State Parks Growing Smarter grant funds to purchase nearly 2,700 acres of protected open space at Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve and Observatory Mesa Natural Area. In 2016, Flagstaff voted in favor of Prop 413, which restricted the use of 300 acres of City-owned property on McMillan Mesa to public open space and passive recreation; the official rezone to Public Open Space became effective on March 1, 2022. These areas are managed to provide recreational and educational opportunities.

On July 6, 2020, the Flagstaff City Council adopted the revised Management Plan for Legally-Designated Open Space (PDF), outlining policies and projects associated with managing the natural and cultural resources on these properties, while providing educational and recreational opportunities for Flagstaff visitors. Each year, in addition to directing efforts to meet the Program's mission, Flagstaff Open Space works to achieve the goals outlined in the Legally Designated Open Space Management Plan.

Hiker at Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve. Photo Credit: Tamara Hastie Photography

Helpful Resources

Check out our most recent newsletters here!

We have FREE Gift Certificates! Share quality time with loved ones at a Flagstaff's Open Space!

Are you interested in using open space properties for a research project or educational program? Submit a complete Research and Education Permit (PDF) to us via email for review!

One of our efforts is to control invasive plants on Flagstaff's Open Spaces, and we actively pursue grants to support these efforts.

Upcoming Events

Full Moon Hike Wednesday April 5, 2023 6pm at Observatory Mesa.  Join Flagstaff Parks, Recreation, Open Spaces & Events for a Full Moon Hike with stargazing! We will meet at Thorpe Park Dog Park (788 N Thorpe Rd), and hike up Mars Hill Trail to a lookout and watch the “pink moon” rise. When we head back down, telescopes will be set up in a clearing so that we can check out the moon, planets, and stars!  Dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes. There's still snow on the trail, so bring snow cleats and a hiking pole, but we have extras if you need them!

Wednesday Weed Pulls will resume every other Wednesday from May 24-September 13, 2023 at Picture Canyon Natural & Cultural Preserve. Most will be 7-10am, but we have some evening hours this year too! Click on the Picture Canyon link above and to the left for more details.

Adopt a Tree!  Volunteers planted Ponderosa Pine trees on McMillan Mesa between the FUTS (Flagstaff Urban Trail System) and the new Veterans Home, to replace some of the invasive trees that were removed. Consider adopting those trees (water and feed them)! Email with any questions or to adopt a tree. 

Stay up to date with events by following our Facebook page or Instagram @cityofflagstaffparks

Lost and Found

If you've lost something at an Open Space property, we may have found it! Email Sylvia Struss or call 928-213-2328.

Open Spaces now accepts donations, which support volunteer events and educational events. If you'd like to donate, please make a check payable to City of Flagstaff-Open Spaces, and mail it to Robert Wallace, City of Flagstaff Parks, Recreation, Open Spaces & Events, 1702 N Fourth St, Flagstaff AZ 86004. Thank you!

Email Robert Wallace, the City's Open Space Supervisor, or call 928-213-2327, if you are interested in organizing a volunteer event for your group, or for any questions about the Open Spaces program.