Sawmill Multicultural Art and Nature County Park
New Storybook Path to be Installed at the Park
Coconino County Parks & Recreation and The Literacy Center are partnering on a new amenity, a storybook path, at Sawmill County Park. The path will feature the book “Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match” by local author Monica Brown, and the book’s pages will be set on pedestals at intervals along the path. Visitors of all ages, but especially younger visitors, will have the opportunity to read the book, which includes both English and Spanish, and hear audio versions in English and Spanish by scanning a QR code on their phone. This new feature will be available at the park in early October.
Incorporating a new amenity that combines being outdoors in nature and learning is especially appealing to Coconino County Parks and Recreation as the department plans for and provides a variety of recreational, cultural, historic, and educational opportunities throughout the county, in developed and future parks as well as natural areas. As evidenced by the department’s new Master Plan, which was adopted in spring 2020, residents of Flagstaff consider more educational programs for kids a key opportunity for parks and recreation. Storybook paths, also called storybook trails, have been growing in popularity across the country, and are often the result of a partnership between local parks and recreation agencies and libraries or non-profits.
Sawmill Multicultural Art & Nature County Park was built on a "brownfield" where one of Flagstaff's first sawmills operated from 1908 to 1993. The logging and lumber industry shaped the structure of Flagstaff by attracting Mexican, African American, Swedish, Polish, and Italian families to work at the mills.
The park offers recreational and educational opportunities. Meander around the backyard wildlife habitat gardens and see how a contaminated industrial site can be transformed into an environmental and aesthetic amenity. Its public art celebrates the diversity of the surrounding community.
Willow Bend Environmental Education Center
The mission of the Willow Bend Environmental Education Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, is to provide education outreach services that build environmental awareness and an ethic of responsible stewardship of our natural and cultural resources.
Willow Bend Environmental Education Center was founded in 1978 by Jim David, a schoolteacher, and Jim Alam, a supervisor with the Coconino Natural Resource Conservation District (CNRCD). Since then it has served as Coconino County’s only year-round full time environmental education center.
Friends of Willow Bend Gardens
The Friends of Willow Bend Gardens is an all-volunteer organization whose primary purpose is to support the Willow Bend Environmental Education Center by restoring the habitat demonstration gardens used in its programs.
You can read more about their work in 2018 restoring the habitat gardens at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center with their 2018 Accomplishments and Plans for 2019 (link to PDF, 2.2 MB).
Interested in volunteering? Check out Willow Bend Environmental Education Center's Facebook page for upcoming events.
Experience Watchable Wildlife Opportunities
Sawmill Multicultural Art and Nature County Park is one of 30 wildlife viewing sites within 30 miles of Flagstaff.
Visit Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience to plan your visit and to find other watchable wildlife sites in northern Arizona.
- 2 acres
- Backyard habitat demonstration gardens
- Performance stage
- Art wall for community painting
- Sculpture walk
- Ponderosa Ramada
- Willow Bend Environmental Education Center green building
- Picnic tables
- Restrooms and drinking fountain
- Adjacent to FUTS trails system
- Lawn area
- Limited parking
- Storybook path
For more information on making reservations for the Ponderosa Ramada or if you have questions, please email our Special Events Coordinator, at parksrec(at)coconino.az.gov
Reservations are limited to Saturday and Sunday only in May, September, and October.
Park maps & information to host a Special Event