Close to Flagstaff at 6900 feet, Kelly Canyon is a convenient and cool place to camp among lovely ponderosa pines. The canyon lies within the Coconino National Forest and there's plenty of places to explore here. Hiking the trail through Priest Draw is a must do for scenic views of the unique limestone rock of the Kaibab Formation. Other great places to see include nearby Coulter Park and Coulter Hill.
Campsite GPS Coordinates: N 35 03.504’ W 111 40.948’
Elevation: 6892 feet
Campsite Directions: From Flagstaff take I-17 south to Kelly Canyon Road, exit 331. Turn left (east) onto Kelly Canyon Road (FR 700H) and drive up the hill until you reach FR 703 on your left. Turn here and you'll find the campsite on the left just a short ways down the road.
This campsite is not the most scenic, I-17 traffic is audible, and there is a shooting range nearby. That being said, there’s great weather at this elevation (highs around 80, lows about 50), no biting insects (no juniper gnats here!), and it’s close to town (Flagstaff is only a 10-15 minute drive away). It’s a convenient place to camp.
There’s not much traffic on this road, which is nice. Clouds and thunderstorms are beginning to roll through here, more so in the afternoons. I’ve had hardly any rain, though there was a light rain yesterday for an hour – the most I’ve seen in a few months. It sounds like August is when monsoon season really kicks in. Right now, it’s almost always sunny.
I’ve seen elk, deer, coyote, lizards, squirrels, several birds including robins and one with a red head, yellow body, and black wings - probably a western tanager. There are also many cattle here. The area is tall ponderosa pine forest. I do see some cacti here and there, and a few oak trees. Priest Draw (northeast of here) and Coulter Hill (southeast of here) are the neatest areas I’ve seen so far.