Hitting the Slopes in Arizona
Sunrise Park Resort, photo courtesy of Sunrise Park Resort
By Lauren Wong
The wonderful thing about Arizona is that you can start your day poolside, working on your tan, and end your day a few hours north on the slopes, surrounded by snow. Arizona is the place to be if you’re a lover of both summer and winter sports. With the winter months among us, take a weekend out of your busy schedule and take a trip up to one of Arizona’s highly-regarded ski resorts. The ideal time to book is from mid-November through the end of April.
Whether it’s for a day or a weekend, secure yourself in the ski lift, and test out your skills up in the mountains.
Arizona Nordic Village
16848 U.S. 180, Flagstaff
Photo courtesy, Theo Callan
Although it’s not your classic Ski Resort/Lodge, the Arizona Nordic Village provides you with an experience like no other. Visit in the summer to hike the trails, or come in the winter for skiing and snowshoeing. Though it will probably be too cold to book one of their campsites during the winter months, their unique yurts and cabins start at $40. If you’re looking for ski runs, this isn’t the place for you. They offer cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Ditch your traditional hotel, and become one with nature by booking one of their 12’ backcountry yurts. Located about two miles from the lodge at the base of the 35-mile trail system of Arizona Nordic Village, each yurt sits on a private trailside location. Every rental has a wood stove and sleeping pads.
Rentals are available for half day and full day. You can rent out skis, poles, boots, a pulk sled (for younger guests), and snowshoes. Get back to the basics and learn classic Nordic skiing (cross-country skiing) by signing up for one of their Classic Ski Lessons. You can also take Skate Ski Lessons. A slightly different technique, Skate skiing is considered a step up from classic skiing. It’s technique is similar to ice-skating, making it the more athletic style of Nordic skiing.
If you want to explore the snowy trails by foot, rent or bring your own snowshoes.
9300 N Snow Bowl Rd, Flagstaff
Located on an extinct volcano on the western slope of Mount Humphreys, the tallest point in the state that was formed 500,000 – 1,000,000 years ago, sits the Arizona Snowbowl. With a base elevation of 9,200 feet, there are 777 acres of skiable terrain surrounded by breathtaking views of the whole state.
Out of the 55 runs, 22% are beginner level, 43% intermediate, 22% advanced, and 13% expert. The longest run is two miles. If you’re not confident in your skills, sign up for one of their classes. You can rent skis, snowboards, helmets, and Ski Bikes (Sno-Gos) on site.
Stays: Basecamp is located at the base of Snowbowl Road, seven miles from both Downtown Flagstaff and Arizona Snowbowl. Book one of their 26 newly remodeled, non-smoking, cabins or rooms. Choose from 18 cabins, 6 hotel-styled rooms, a suite, or a studio. Their restaurant on-site offers a full service bar. Other convenient options include any of the Flagstaff Partner Hotels. Close by Downtown Flagstaff, Sedona, Williams, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and more, it’s location is central to so many beautiful places just waiting for you to come and explore! Check out their events calendar online and book your stay around one of their music and mountain events.
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley
10300 Ski Run Rd, Mt. Lemmon
Photo courtesy, Nicholas Aldinger, Operations Manager, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley
Sitting 9,157 feet above sea level with 21 runs on 200 skiable acres, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is the southernmost ski destination in continental United States. With their longest trail measuring a bit over a mile and a half, 20% of their trails are suitable for beginners, 38% for intermediate, and 42% for expert level.
Tickets are only sold at the resort and must be purchased on site. If you’re looking to partake in a ski lesson, call (520) 576-1321 to choose from the variety of lessons and packages they offer. You’ll also call that number if you’re in need of rental equipment. Rentals include adult skis, boots, and poles, child skis, boots, and poles, snowboards, and helmets.
For a breathtaking view of the Coronado National Forest, purchase a ticket to ride their 30 minute Sky Ride that takes you right up into the mountains. The Iron Door Restaurant offers breakfast and lunch options on site. If you’re craving something sugary, stop in the Miner’s Sweet Tooth Fudge Shop and choose your treat from over 10 fudge flavors. For 15 years they’ve been perfecting their beloved homemade fudge. The shop also offers coffee, soda, fresh popped popcorn, and more. For a quick in and out meal, check out Grub Stake and grab yourself some pizza.
If you want a souvenir to bring home with you, the Motherlode Gift Shop sells stickers, sweatshirts, beanies, gloves, shirts, etc.
Stays: A short five minute drive from the slope is the Mt. Lemmon Hotel. The hotel offers private individual cabins that hold up to five guests. Other options that are less than 10 miles away include the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Miraval Arizona, and the Catalina Inn.
Sunrise Park Resort
200 Highway 273, Greer
Photo courtesy, Sunrise Park Resort
Looking to ski, snowboard, tube, cross-country ski, or hop on a ski bike? Sunrise Park Resort has it all. Spanning over three mountains; Sunrise Peak, Cyclone Circle, and Apache Peak, the resort sits atop the Colorado Plateau. Offering lessons for all ages, the resort has the most ski runs and acreage in the state. This makes it a perfect destination for those traveling with groups consisting of individuals with a wide range of experience and skill levels.
They ask that you purchase your day pass ticket ahead of time online to reserve your spot. If you need rentals you’ll be able to pick them up there, choosing between their packages. They have the Adult Ski Package, Jr Ski Package, Adult Snowboard Package, and Jr Snowboard Package. You can purchase additional rentals if you want a helmet, snow pants, or a jacket (goggles and gloves are available for purchase in the lodge.) If you are an avid skier or snowboarder and have your own equipment, bring it to the Ski and Board Service shop and get your gear ready for this year’s winter season. The Ski and Board Service offers a full tune-up, edge and wax service, mount bindings, and switch bindings.
Once you’ve exhausted all your energy on the slopes, or are in need of a break, stop in one of the on site restaurants. The resort has three lodges, the Sunrise Day Lodge, Cyclone Day Lodge, and Apache Peak Lodge. There are also two cafés which include the Midway Café (Sunrise Midway) and Eagle’s Nest (Sunrise Peak). Last, but not least, there is a Burrito Barn and Crown Dancer Café situated at the base.
Stays: January 2022 marks the reopening of the Sunrise Park Resort Hotel featuring newly remodeled rooms, an indoor pool and hot tub, restaurant, bar, and lodge. Located only a few minutes from the slopes, this is the most convenient option in terms of proximity.
Located 30 minutes from the resort is the Hon-Dah Resort Casino. This is a great option for those looking for more to do during their get-away. The hotel offers 128 luxury rooms, a year-round pool, live entertainment, the Indian Pine Restaurant, over 800 slot machines, and poker and blackjack tables. Check out what events will be going on and shows, at the Timbers Showroom, that’ll be offered at the time of your booking.
Another option is to look into rentals in Pinetop-Lakeside. The town is about 45 minutes from Sunrise Park Resort and has been voted the #1 Cabin Region in the United States. Personalize your stay by finding a rental that has all the amenities you’re looking for.