In honor of Throwback Thursday, here’s a throwback to 2017 with a photo from

This time (while visiting Flagstaff, Arizona) I got the chance to stay at the Hotel Monte Vista, a hotel known in recent years for being haunted.  Built in 1927, the Hotel Monte Vista hosted many stars, ranging from Bob Hope to Debbie Reynolds and Jon Bon Jovi.

They host a variety of activities every night including karaoke to live music and a cocktail lounge and restaurant.  The hallways were definitely giving me Haunted Mansion vibes. There are a lot of shops and restaurants in downtown Flagstaff.  I had an amazing mocha and chocolate croissant from the vegan and gluten-free coffee shop, Macy’s.  

The new adventure was to Bearizona.  Arriving at the front gate and while the cashier was explaining how the car windows should be closed while driving through the bear and wolf sections and how the car should not stop because the bears could climb on the car, all I could think about was how this was a miniature Jurassic Park. You literally drive through the animal enclosures, checking them out behind the safety of your car windows. There were about eight different sections, each section had its own animals; the deer section, burro section, wolves, bears, and bison.  

At the end, on the other side of the last gate is the parking lot where people can get out and go inside to the park’s walk-thru zoo.  The gate is connecting the cars from the last bear section to the parking lot, the only thing separating you is an electric fence which the bears have learned not to cross. Of course, you’re not supposed to stop while in this bear section, but the cars get backed up at the gate where a park employee is passing out stickers to cars as they cross through the gate.  While waiting to get through the gate, a bear walked right by our car, sniffing it and checking it out. The bear stopped at the gate, looked at the park employee passing out stickers and then casually walked away from the gate.

It’s just crazy to think how the open gate is the only thing separating the park attendants from the parking lot.  Once we safely made it through the gate, we got out to explore the walk-thru zoo.  There were foxes, otters, goats, and a jaguar, all within their own enclosures.  I put my electric scooter to good use in the zoo, it was so much easier to get through all the exhibits.  At the end, where the jaguar was, you go through a huge gift shop that has been made to look like you’re underground.  You go through the park’s restaurant and on the other side is the jaguar enclosure. I’m really happy I got to go to Bearizona; it’s worth the $20 per person entry fee!

After Bearizona, we headed to downtown Williams, the gateway to the Grand Canyon (that always reminds me of the train at Disneyland that goes through the prehistoric Grand Canyon section).  It is a really cute downtown with shops and restaurants and old Route 66 charm.  We had dinner at an Italian restaurant and then took a tour of the town, another optimal time to use the scooter. We then drove the thirty-minute drive back to Flagstaff and rested up for the next day.

The next adventure had some off-roading for the scooter. First, we drove through Wupatki National Monument, where we first stopped at the pueblo ruins. The trail to the ruins is not paved and in some places, there are some larger rocks that the scooter needed some help getting over, but with some clever maneuvering and help from the bro and dad, I got through the trail and to the pueblo without stairs. We kept driving and came to the walk-up above the grasslands. This was paved part way and was very steep and with no rail to save you from going off the edge, I needed help again maneuvering the scooter, but we made it and the views were really beautiful.  

We continued our journey to Sunset Crater Volcano, where almost everything under the volcano is covered in dried black lava rocks.  All of this was on the south side of Flagstaff and right next to the Navajo reservation.

The rest of our time in Flagstaff, we spent our time downtown. On the third, we took a tour of NAU because there have been so many remodels and new buildings put in since my brother started going there. Later, we went to a fireworks show that was on a closed golf course. It had a small town feel, with blow-up slides and games for the kids and also had food booths as well as drinks and desserts. Everyone found a spot on the grass and hung out before the half-hour fireworks show. On the drive home, we drove part way on Route 66, through the town of Seligman, which was used along with other Route 66 cities to help create Radiator Springs for the movie, Cars.

We also drove through Peach Springs, another city loosely represented in Cars, but there wasn’t much there at all.  From what I could see, they probably just based the name of Radiator Springs on this town. There were some old closed buildings and motels, but Seligman had a row of cars from the movie, including an old tow truck that they put eyes and teeth on to look like Mater.

As of the day of this post, May 9, 2019, my brother has graduated from NAU. All of the times we visited were fun. I really enjoyed touring around each time we visited.

2 responses to “Bearizona Is A Miniature Jurassic Park With Bears Instead of Dinosaurs”

  1. Tom Avatar

    Loved your post Elissa! You have a gift for making the reader feel like they are at the places in your story. Way to go!!


    1. elissabarton Avatar

      Thank you!


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