Picture Canyon Natural & Cultural Preserve

Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve is a natural and cultural amenity located in northeast Flagstaff. In addition to significant Northern Sinagua petroglyphs and other cultural resources, 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 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 (PDF) and trail map (PDF) to learn more about the Preserve's resources and trail system. View images from Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Perserve.

Self-Guided Tour

For the Flagstaff Festival of Science, because COVID prevents us from doing guided hikes, we created a printable Picture Canyon Self-Guided Tour using QR Codes; just download any QR Code reader app on your smartphone to access information about the various sites/sights at Picture Canyon!

For more information about the history of Picture Canyon (PDF).

Plateau Magazine

In 2014 to 2015, the Museum of Northern Arizona published it's beautiful Plateau magazine featuring Picture Canyon-People, Petroglyphs and Place, including details about the ecology, archaeology, and history of the Preserve (Volume. 8, number 1 and 2). Unfortunately, this issue is out of print, but you may be able to purchase it from the Museum bookstore, or online.

Directions

A Google map of Picture Canyon can be found here.

  • From I-40
  • Take exit 201 (Highway 89 N Page, Country Club). If coming from the south/west, turn left onto Country Club Boulevard; if coming from the west, turn right onto Country Club Boulevard
  • At the intersection with U.S. 180/US 89, turn left
  • At the next traffic light, turn left onto W Historic Route 66
  • In 1.8 miles, 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 area on your right

From Walnut Canyon, take Walnut Canyon Road/Old Route 66 west, back towards Flagstaff. In 5.8 miles, turn right onto El Paso Flagstaff Road.

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 free and open to the public year round. There is a portable toilet available at the trailhead off of El Paso Flagstaff Road, but no trash receptacle, so please "pack it in, pack it out!"

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.

To learn more about the plants found in the Preserve, view our plant list (PDF). You can download a geo-referenced map of the trail system to your smart phone.

Trail Information

Trail NameDistanceImportant Information
Don Weaver0.7 milesProvides 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 Loop2.8 milesUtilizes 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 milesA 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.