Joggers, walkers, trekkers, and slow strollers. Older people, young people, children, unborn children (pregnant mothers), and mothers pushing strollers with babies. These are the people I find at Buffalo Park. It is late morning, 9:00 a.m. The sky is clear. I am walking with Chloe, my cocker spaniel.
The views of the San Francisco Peaks are in the distance. Buffalo Park is a part of the Flagstaff Urban Trail System (FUTS). The loop around the entire park is about five miles. In 1963 it was a wildlife park. The first animal, a deer, arrived on January 31, 1964. The first buffalo arrived on April 8. There were more than 200 animals. Elk, antelope, Chinese and Golden pheasants, quail, wild ducks, sheep, llamas, hens, peacocks and barnyard animals.
A buffalo constructed of steel covered with wire mesh and coated with concrete and latex silicone mixture greets the visitors at the entrance to the park.
The park opened on May 30, 1964. Admission was $1 for adults and 50 cents for children. People could ride coaches, wagons, a mule train, or a surry for a 45- minute trip around the park. The tour included watching Navaho women weave blankets in front of four hogans, listening to the cowboy philosopher and storyteller O.T. Gillete, feed small animals, and experience the history of old Flagstaff.
The park had a very successful first summer. The next summer it went bankrupt. Heavy snows fell that winter. The animals escaped looking for places to find food. Some buffalo were found at a local school grazing.
In 1969 all of the animals were removed from the property. The park was left alone until 1986. Flagstaff residents voted to protect Buffalo Park. They wanted to ensure that people could use it as a place to hike, walk, trek, bike, and exercise.
The Nate Avery Trail is a two-mile loop. It sits on top of an ancient lava flow. The park includes stations where people stop to perform various exercises.
The Challenges are marked for Novice and Advanced levels
Frog Kicks (The ground is made of crushed wood chips)
The Maze: Mom and daughter doing sit-ups
Water fountain for dogs
The path is on a lava field. It becomes very warm in the late morning in the Summer months.
The Arizona Trail begins here and if you walk about 300 miles, you will reach the border with Mexico. Don’t do it the Summer!
Tips for visiting the park:
- Go in the early morning or late evening in the summer
- Wear steady walking shoes
- Carry water
- Wear a hat
- Dogs are allowed on leashes
I recommend this park for very active children and adults.
Note: Take a lot of water