Open Spaces Program


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.

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. These areas are managed to provide recreational and educational opportunities.

On June 6, 2017, the Flagstaff City Council adopted a Management Plan for Legally-Designated Open Space Properties, which outlines policies and projects associated with managing the natural and cultural resources on these properties while providing educational and recreational opportunities for Flagstaff visitors.

To learn more about what the City, Coconino County, and other organizations are doing for open space in our community, check out our annual newsletter from 2016.

If you have questions about Observatory Mesa Natural Area, Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve, or the City's Open Space Program in general, please contact Betsy Emery, the City's Open Spaces Specialist at or (928)213-2154.

To learn more about what the Open Space Program and our partners have been up to, as well as exciting projects and community events, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter.

Upcoming Events:
The Open Space Program is not hosting any upcoming events.

Contact Betsy Emery, the City's 
Open Space Specialist, if you are interested in organizing a volunteer event for your group. 

Stay up to date with events and programs by following our Facebook page
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View of the San Francisco Peaks from Observatory Mesa Natural Area.

Photo copyright: Tom Bean Photography
Tamara Hastie 681_LosRes
Hiker at Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve.

Photo Credit: Tamara Hastie Photography

Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve

With funding from the 2004 voter-approved open space bond and a 2012 Growing Smarter grant, the City of Flagstaff successfully acquired 478 acres at Picture Canyon for preservation. 

Observatory Mesa Natural Area.

In 2004, Flagstaff voters approved a $5.5 million bond to acquire State Trust lands on Observatory Mesa. Check out our Observatory Mesa facts handout to learn more about the Preserve.