Flagstaff : City of Wonders

Flagstaff, also known as the City of Wonders, was on our list of places to explore during our travels along Route 66 in Arizona last summer. The town is located in the heart of Coconino National Forest, the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Wupatki National Monument, Sunset Crater National Monument and the Sab Francisco Peaks.

Western author Zane Grey loved Arizona, working on many of his books in a cabin near Tonto Creek and when he visited Flagstaff, he stayed in room 210 at the historic Monte Vista Hotel on San Francisco Street.

Photo Credit

The Monte Vista was the longest publicly held commercial hotel in the history of America until it sold to a private individual in the early 1960’s. In its first year of operation the hotel hosted Mary Costigan’s daily three-hour radio show from room 105. Mary was the first American woman to be granted a radio-broadcasting license.

Photo Credit

The Monte Vista was a favorite gathering place among the locals who coined the phrase “Meet me at the Monte V”. During prohibition the Monte Vista was Flagstaff’s most popular speakeasy. Then in the 1940’s and 50’s western movies became popular and over 100 movies were filmed in nearby Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon and a scene from Casablanca was filmed in one of the rooms. Many movie stars stayed at the Monte Vista during filming and the hotel began naming rooms after the actors.

As with many historic buildings, the Monte Vista is believed to be haunted. Zane Grey’s room was said to be haunted by the infamous phantom bellboy. John Wayne reported seeing a friendly spirit in his room in the hotel in late 1950’s.

My husband and I stayed the night in the Anthony Hopkins Suite. As you can see by the photo of our room it wasn’t much of a suite. The shower was so narrow that your elbows hit the walls when you tried to wash your hair. Sadly we did not encounter any ghosts in our room. See more stories about the ghosts who haunt the Monte Vista Hotel HERE.

I should mention the other historical hotel in Flagstaff—the Weatherford Hotel, which is said to be one of Wyatt Earp’s favorite hangouts while in Flagstaff. Hubby and I stopped at the hotel for a drink after dinner and learned from the bartender that Zane Grey would frequently work on his books in the Weatherford Ballroom attached to the bar on the second floor.


If you ever have the chance to visit Flagstaff be sure to take a peek inside both hotels and if you’re the adventurous type you may want to try one of these barcycles or pedal pubs!

I’d love to know if you’ve ever stayed the night in a famous hotel and where it was.

Until Next Time…Happy Trails!

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31 thoughts on “Flagstaff : City of Wonders”

  1. Wow, what a great trip back into history. I stayed a couple of times in a motel in Clinton, OK that advertised that Elivis Presley stayed at, but im not 100% sure if that was true or folklore. I just went with the take and enjoyed my stay. It certainly wasn’t very fancy in today’s standards, but I can see how in the 50’s & 60’s it was probably cream of the crop.
    Thanks for visiting and sharing your adventure.

    • Hi Tonya! I love Elvis and one day I hope to visit Graceland. I’d do exactly the same thing and just “go with it” and believe he did stay there-that’s all part of the fun 🙂

    • Hi Jerri! Stephenville sounds familiar but I can’t remember if we just drove through the town or if someone I know spent time there. Hmmm…I wonder if the Long Hotel is haunted 🙂

  2. I stayed in the Parker House in Boston. It was quite famous in its day. I am adding Flagstaff to my list to visit.

    • Debra, one of these years I’d love to take a trip back to the East Coast and explore. We lived in New Jersey for two years but the kids were toddlers and we were young and broke, lol, and had no money for vacations. There’s so much history back there to experience!

  3. The Gardner Hotel in El Paso, Texas is like stepping back in history. It has kept the antique furniture and decor from decades ago. It even has a hostile in part of the hotel now. El Paso has many old historical hotels where I have stayed, been to an event there, ate there or visited someone that was staying there. The majority of the historic hotels in downtown El Paso have changed names and some are no longer hotels since I lived there in ’88-’94. My MS memory is bad so I can’t remember the names of all the hotels or boasts but if you like to visit historical hotels El Paso has many. Loved your blog. I’ve never been to Flagstaff or many places in Arizona but we did cross cattle in Douglas, Arizona and it has a famous hotel that boasts many stories from the wild west. My father had an office and stayed there so did our family when we went there. It’s called the Gadsden Hotel. The original hotel unfortuneately burned down and was rebuilt in 1929 so you can’t stay in any of the rooms that famous gangsters, cattleman, lawmen and cowboys stayed in. Now I want to do a vacation of the USA and visit all the old hotels and tourist sights in the towns. If I was only wealthy. What an adventure that would be. Thanks for the historical trip!

    • Stephanie, I’ve driven through El Paso many times but have never stopped. The next time we plan a trip that takes us through the city, I plan to have a list of places to see. Of course it would be full of history just because of its location! I’ve heard of the Gadsden Hotel but have never been there-I should add that to my list of places I need to see in Arizona-thanks for mentioning it!

  4. I stayed at Hotel Galvez in Galveston Texas once. It was supposed to be haunted, but we didn’t find any evidence of it. There is a list of celebrities and presidents who have stayed there too.

  5. We stayed at the Copley Square Hotel, the second oldest hotel in Boston, named in honor of the American painter. The rooms were tiny but it was a really lovely stay nonetheless, and right in the heart of Boston and history, next to the Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, and Old South Church. Sadly, it has been extensively remodeled in recent times, not keeping with its older themes. Oh well, at least we got to stay there before that happened, right?

    We also got to visit a lot of authors’ homes over time, my favorite being in Concord: Hawthorne, Thoreau, Emerson and Alcott. The Old Manse. I also love the House of Seven Gables in Salem, Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, and of course the site of Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond. Based on the strength of local authors, Boston used to be the national hub for publishing–until NYC took over.

    • Eliza–wow!!! What a treat to visit all those famous author homes! One of these years I have to get to the East Coast and sight-see. So much history and then I need to travel to the deep South and tour the plantation homes and new Orleans. So many places to see in this country. If I ever win the Lottery we’ll have to rent a bus and do a Petticoats & Pistols historical tour with all of us!

      • Oh my, I only noted some writers. There’s also Longfellow, Dickinson, Frost, Wharton, Melville, Stowe… and others I’m likely leaving out. In these times New England is the the birthplace of Stephen King, John Irving and Dan Brown. Do you think it’s the NE soil or the spray off the North Atlantic? 🙂 They must have similar soil, though, in Oxford, Mississippi, the home of Faulkner and Grisham!

        Marin, when you do come to the Northeast, IMO, head straight for Boston and its environs where there is just so much history, so many authors and so much to see. Boston is a very walkable city (small as cities go although with just terrible traffic), surrounded closely by the likes of Salem, Plymouth, Lexington and Concord and so on.

      • Eliza, I bet I could spend an entire week in Boston and still not see everything. What I need to do is write a historical romance novel set along the East Coast and then scheduling a writing trip for month out there 🙂 And you never know maybe there’s something in the ocean spray that affects a person’s imagination and that’s why so many great writers found their way there!

  6. O love reading about old hotels and the people who stayed there. As well as those who decided to stay through time. 🙂 In Cape May, New Jersey there are so many beautiful and old Victorian homes. Some are said to be haunted. I ‘m up in northern Jersey and haven’t been there yet. My sister & niece live closer and spent a night at one. They slept peacefully through the night, no ghosts there.

  7. I’ve stayed in Bed & Breakfasts but I’ve never stayed in an historical hotel before.

    A friend used to manage the Brexton Hotel in Baltimore–it’s the hotel where Wallis Simpson was raised. Yes, that Wallis Simpson.

    • I think he alluded to a possible ghost there.

      It’s a really cool looking hotel, huge turrets, but it has limited parking. It’s in a bit of artsy section of Baltimore, not down near the harbor, so I think that leads to it’s struggles. He did his best when he was there.

      • I got to walk through Riordan mansion in 1993 when the state opened up the side where the 2 daughter lived. The windows in the game room had not been touched there was newspaper on them to try and protect them. Was amazing to see 9 national parks represented at that time only 5 were known. The place was amazing and free to the public then with a park ranger as a guide. One of the 3 granddaughters was alive then and living in what use to be servant quarters.

  8. Several years ago we stayed at a historic hotel. I don’t know how famous it is. The Sacajawea Hotel in Three Forks, Montana is a lovely old hotel built in 1910. The rooms are nicely appointed and the restaurant darkly paneled. The basement restaurant and bar are casual and have live music. It is a small town that has ties to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It would have been a nice romantic stay if we hadn’t had our 15 year old grandson with us on the trip. If we are through that way again, we might just give it another try.

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