Almost Hollywood

by J. Adam Burch and Stacey Lane

The highest peaks of Arizona, Humphreys Peak (at 12,637 feet), punctuate your arrival in Flagstaff. The convergence of I-40, I-17 and historic Route 66 thrust you into its downtown.  Here, among the antique brick buildings that house very modern businesses, Flagstaff might be thought of as “almost Hollywood.” Flagstaff occupies a stage set that includes towering ponderosa pines, the San Francisco Peaks and crystal clear skies that allow a camera to see for miles. And it was the choice made by Cecil DeMille, Jesse Laskey and Samuel Goldwyn, those giants of the motion picture industry whose influence still endures.

In 1911, they began working on a movie version of the popular American Western play, Squaw Man, and DeMille decided that it ought to be filmed in the real American West and zeroed in on Flagstaff sighted on a train ride. Legend has it that icy roads and heavy snow forced the creative trio back onto the train and to a quiet little town in southern California, known today as Hollywood. Those feeling the same attraction for charming and authentic turn-of-the-century style could do no better than a visit to the historic Weatherford Hotel.

The Weatherford, established in 1897 and named for its original owner, was for years the most prominent hotel in Flagstaff. It was the preferred hostelry for many famous figures of the early twentieth century. Made of stone and brick by American pioneers and Chinese immigrants, the Weatherford was able to survive the fires that devastated the more common wooden buildings that typified the town architecture. The Weatherford offers quaint private rooms with a lingering haunted history hanging in the air. There is also the newly remodeled Zane Grey Ballroom that does credit to its namesake, the commercially successful author who defined the Western genre. Upstairs and downstairs bars, as well as a full­service kitchen and restaurant, enable guests to enjoy the mix of old-style amenities and modern convenience. Find out all about menus, room rates and special event planning at the Weatherford Hotel, 23 N. Leroux Street in Flagstaff, by checking out their website or by calling (928) 779-1919.


Photos by; Rapid Fire Photography

After a good night’s rest, you may be ready for something more physical. Why not begin with a guided, warm­up tour that includes the downtown area featured in the film Forrest Gump, as well as the beautifully maintained Flagstaff Urban Trail that showcases the parks and residential side of this unique and picturesque town. AZ Pedal Tours are led by its remarkably knowledgable owner, Blake Nabours.

Select a theme tour (Historic Downtown, Haunted Downtown, University, or Craft Beer & Wine), request a custom tour, experiment with the 16-person Party Peddler, or just rent a bike and explore on your own. In any case, a bike tour is an economical and intimate way to explore an unfamiliar town. AZ Pedal Tours is located at 106 W. Aspen Avenue in Flagstaff. Get more info at and/or call to book a tour or reserve a bike at (928) 699-1307.