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

To many Flagstaff area residents, open space is the defining feature of Flagstaff's character and attraction, and all of these properties were acquired after citizen initiatives (more on that below)! Open space defines the region's quality of life, protects the region's ecological health, supports tourism, 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.

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

Helpful Resources

What is open space? Learn more about definitions here.

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.

Guide to Outdoor Safety and Health

Upcoming Events

Open Spaces Commission meeting Monday, December 11, 2023 at 4 p.m. at the Aquaplex Community Room (1702 N Fourth St) or online via Microsoft Teams. During this meeting, the commission will review a Hidden Hollow Road Access Consideration through Observatory Mesa Natural Area, and revisions of the Greater Observatory Mesa Trail Plan. Get involved in the future of Flagstaff’s Open Space! For more info, view the agenda at

Open Space Working Group meeting Wednesday December 13, 2023 at 10am at the Aquaplex Party Room  (1702 N Fourth St).  Join us to learn more about Flagstaff's Open Spaces and our current projects!

Full Moon Hike Thursday Jan 25, 2024 5:30pm. Join us to hike the Nate Avery Loop Trail at Buffalo Park, and watch the "Wolf Moon" rise.  We'll meet by the buffalo. Dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes and ice cleats if necessary, bring hiking poles and red flashlights, but we'll have extras if you need them!

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

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.

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, 211 W Aspen Ave, Flagstaff AZ 86001. 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.