Flagstaff, located at the intersection of Interstate 17 and
I-40 is the largest city and is the regional center of northern Arizona.
It is the county seat for Coconino County, the second largest county
in the U.S., with 12 million acres. Flagstaff, at 7,000 feet, is one of
the highest U.S. cities and its breath-taking backdrop is even higher.
The community sits at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona’s
highest point at 12,633 feet. Flagstaff is a year-round Mecca for visitors. Many Arizonans maintain second homes here. Summer temperatures average 20
degrees cooler than Phoenix, which is 146 miles south on Interstate
17. In winter there is skiing, ice skating, and hunting.
Percival Lowell founded Lowell Observatory in 1894. He chose Flagstaff to build the observatory because of its clean air and high altitude, which create exceptional visibility. Lowell spent his time learning about the planet Mars. It was through Lowell’s twenty-two-year study of the planet Mars and his theory of the expanding universe that led to the discovery of Pluto, fourteen years after his death. Clyde W. Tombaugh discovered the planet in exactly the position that Dr. Lowell had calculated. The Clark telescope that located Pluto is still at the Observatory, housed in a historic wooden dome.