About The Arb

The Arboretum at Flagstaff’s mission is to increase the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of plants and plant communities native to the Colorado Plateau.


Our Mission

The Arboretum at Flagstaff’s

Our mission is to increase the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of plants and plant communities native to the Colorado Plateau.

Identify, evaluate, display, and introduce plants adapted to the climatic and soil conditions of the Flagstaff environment.

We strive to:

Seek innovative solutions to conservation issues by engaging in scientific research involving our high altitude environment.

Develop educational programs that encourage others to become wise stewards of our natural environment.

The Arboretum at Flagstaff’s Rich History


Frances McAllister founded the Arboretum as The Transition Zone Horticultural Institute in 1981.

The Walter Reichardt House, where we currently house our gift shop, visitor center, administration offices, and rental space, was Frances’s home starting in 1967.

Frances passed through Flagstaff on the train in the early 1930’s, and later her husband, John Vickers McAllister, gave her a rustic cabin on a parcel of land near Woody Mountain Road as a wedding present. Frances and her family traveled from Los Angeles every summer to spend time in their cabin with its marvelous vista of the San Francisco Peaks.

They also purchased the land where the Arboretum sits today which was a working cattle ranch.


After her husband’s passing, Frances moved to Flagstaff permanently. She and had her new house built on the land that is currently The Arboretum. She also had the old log cabin moved from its previous site to their new property – it was taken apart piece by piece and reassembled where you see it now near the meadow!

Frances’ love of native plants began as a small child and she pursued her passion for gardening in her new home. She found that gardening at 7,000 feet was a challenge compared to gardening in southern California. She had more success with native species and adapted exotic plants from other high, dry locations. Her experimentation’s and success in gardening prompted her to want to share her gardens and research with the community.


Frances McAllister was a well-known philanthropist in the Flagstaff community, and provided significant support to several nonprofits in addition to The Arboretum including The Grand Canyon Trust, The Museum of Northern Arizona, Lowell Observatory, NAU’s history and biology departments, and The Arizona Community Foundation’s p-12 educational fund.

Frances passed away in 2008 at the age of 97. She left a legacy of service and philanthropy still felt by the entire community.

Original Frances McAllister log house

The log house moved to The Arb grounds from acreage that Frances sold nearby when she moved to Flagstaff full time in the late 1960’s and had the Reichardt house constructed. Photo by Jared’s Detours. Check out Jared’s Travel blog for more amazing Arizona adventures:

The Arb Staff

Thank you to our 2024 Sponsors!

Click below to become a sponsor, if you have questions about sponsorship email: nate.omeara@thearb.org

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