The City of Flagstaff acquired McMillan Mesa Natural Area in November 2016 after approximately 86% of Flagstaff voters voted in favor of its preservation. The 300-acre McMillan Mesa Natural Area is one of the last intact native grasslands within the City and provides habitat for elk, deer, and other mammals. Studies of the Mesa have uncovered multiple cultural and historic resources, including the Beale Wagon Road. McMillan Mesa provides beautiful views of the San Francisco Peaks and Mt. Elden, as well as many recreational opportunities.
Open Space Status
McMillan Mesa Natural Area was first preserved with the passing of Proposition 413. The Flagstaff City Council approved a major plan amendment on October 16, 2018, which went into effect on November 15, 2018. On February 15, 2022, the Flagstaff City Council adopted a resolution amending the existing zoning of the McMillan Mesa Natural Area from "Public Facilities and Rural Residential Zoning" to Public Open Space (Zoning Map Amendment application PZ-20-00063), and this became official on March 31, 2022! So why are there buildings and construction going on at the top? Before Prop 413, some of the land was private property. Click on the Zoning Map link to see the boundaries of the Natural Area.
McMillan Mesa is a non-motorized area. There are currently two parking areas that allow access to the Mesa, one at Buffalo Park and the other at McMillan Mesa Park.
From downtown Flagstaff, travel north on N. Humphreys St and turn right on W Forest Ave. Follow W Forest Ave until it turns into E Forest Ave, then turn left on to N Gemini Road. The parking lot will be at the end of N Gemini Road. From there, you can access McMillan Mesa by following the Arizona Trail across the Matt Kelley Urban Trail Bridge.
McMillan Mesa Park
From downtown Flagstaff, travel north on N San Francisco St and turn right on E Forest Ave. In 0.1 miles, turn on N Turquoise Dr, heading south, until you come to E Ponderosa Parkway. Drive 0.4 miles on E Ponderosa Parkway, McMillan Mesa Park will be on the left.
The McMillan Mesa Natural Area can be reached from the north and south on the Arizona Trail. It can be accessed from the east on the Sego Lily FUTS Trail and the Arrowhead FUTS Trail. There is also access from the west side via the Cedar FUTS Trail and the Sunset FUTS Trail.
A map of all of Flagstaff Urban Trails and Bikeways (PDF) can be found here. We also have a printable brochure with information and a trail map of McMillan Mesa to take with you when you go!
The Mesa provides many opportunities for viewing wildlife. Mule deer, ravens, and lark sparrows all frequent the area, as well as waterfowl found at the seasonal pond at Buffalo Park. To learn more about wildlife viewing at McMillan Mesa, view the Buffalo Park, Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience (AWWE) page.
- McMillan Mesa is a day-use only area. Camping, campfires, and woodcutting are strictly prohibited.
- Hunting and motorized vehicle travel is also prohibited.
- Large-scale activities and events require express written approval from the Open Space Specialist.
|McMillan Mesa Loop Trail
|Relatively flat, loop trail with views of the San Francisco Peaks and Mt. Elden.
|A segment of the 800 or more mile trail that connects Mexico and Utah. Trail is easy to distinguish and there is little change in elevation in this portion.
We are in search of an Open Space Coordinator/Educator, a dynamic individual to teach nature education to middle- and high-school students in the Flagstaff area! For more information and to apply (by 3/1/2024), visit the government jobs website.
Check out this beautiful article about the Jan 25, 2024 Full Moon Hike in The Lumberjack online newspaper: https://www.jackcentral.org/lifestyle/an-evening-under-the-wolf-moon/article_8bdbd7ac-bf91-11ee-a68d-bf9ed580378f.html
The next Full Moon Hike will be Saturday Feb 24, 2024 at 5:30pm, hiking McMillan Mesa Loop Trail. We will meet by the buffalo at Buffalo Park, hike counter-clockwise down toward Jay Lively Ice Rink/Turquoise Dr, then up Cedar onto Pine Cliff by BASIS School, then onto the FUTS, looping back to Buffalo Park. Dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes, and bring hiking poles, ice/snow cleats and red flashlights if you have them, but we'll have extras!
To follow upcoming events at McMillan Mesa, follow us on Facebook or on Instagram @cityofflagstaffparks.
We are always working to reduce invasive weeds on McMillan Mesa Natural Area. For more information about invasive plants and the problems they cause, check out the USDA's "Invasive Plants and Weeds of the National Forests and Grasslands in the Southwestern Region," 2d ed., https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3802006.pdf