Planning skiing in Arizona for a winter getaway this year? You are in the right place.
Arizona may not be the destination that comes to your mind when you think of winter sports and white mountain slopes, and believe me; when I moved to Arizona some years ago, I was under the same impression!
But there are a few Arizona ski resorts perfect for a romantic getaway.
If you want to spend a weekend in the ski resorts in Arizona enjoying skiing, snowboarding, and teaching your kids new skills!
Plus, unlike the other skiing destinations in the United States which are usually expensive, skiing in Arizona is also affordable.
All the equipment including rentals, lift tickets, and lessons are pocket-friendly too.
Having explored all these Arizona ski resorts(with a few being my regular favourite getaways), I have created this guide to help you know what to expect at the best ski resorts in Arizona.
ARE SKI RESORTS IN ARIZONA POPULAR?
Home to over 194 named mountain ranges, the Grand Canyon State offers the best ski experiences in the San Francisco Peaks, the Santa Catalina, and the White Mountains.
The elevation is between 9,000 to 12,000 feet, and these high altitudes mean abundant snowfall in the winter, creating the perfect conditions for all sorts of winter adventures.
The ski season usually lasts from November to April thanks to heavy snow accumulating in the mountains of central, northern, and southeastern AZ.
When the winter sets in and many regions get blanketed by snow in Arizona, skiing at Arizona Ski Resorts becomes the popular getaway for locals, as it is a fun pass time.
TOP PLACES FOR SKIING IN ARIZONA
Opening Months – Mid-November to Late May
Only fifteen miles and less than 30 minutes from Flagstaff, Arizona Snowbowl is one of the most popular resorts skiing in Arizona, located atop mountains formed by an eroded volcano millions of years ago.
It is a popular option for a day trip from Flagstaff and Phoenix.
Nestled in the majestic San Francisco Peaks, Arizona Snowbowl is known for its magnificent views of Humphreys Peak, the highest mountain in Arizona.
The weather at Snowbowl is pleasantly sunny, even during the winter. But notorious, unexpected snow storms lead to heavy snow quickly piling up.
Because of the cool weather and traces of snow still remaining, spring is also a popular time for skiing at Snowbowl.
The Snowbowl is also home to the only gondola in Arizona.
Also called Telemix, this lift combines eight-passenger gondolas, whipping you up 2,000 feet in just 7 minutes.
From the top, you will be treated to fantastic views of the valley below blanketed in snow.
From here, you can access the bowl area, glades, and all the intermediate runs.
Note that Weekends and powder days are generally crowded, and long queues for the lifts are common.
You can also hike along the diamond trails in the Upper Bowl.
With 777 acres of skiable terrain, this is the destination in the state you should visit if you’re serious about skiing in Arizona.
Considered by many to be the premier Arizona ski resort, its location at 11,500 feet makes for an epic ski experience since it boasts the best ski slopes in Arizona.
With five lifts serving 32 runs ranging from easy to complex, the Arizona Snowbowl is one of the most challenging ski areas in the West.
If you are a beginner or families with small children, head to the Hart Prairie Chair to enjoy a gentle slope with many wide-open spaces.
If you are a seasoned skier looking to up your game, head near the Humphreys Peak chair, the Grand Canyon Express or Sunset Chairs.
After you’ve made it up and down, head to the beautiful outdoor patio area, The Hart Prairie Lodge patio to relax.
Have your favourite drink amidst new fire pits, in your perfect lounging spot, soaking up the sun.
If you are serious about learning skiing, Arizona Snowbowl has an excellent ski school and is a perfect place to learn.
If you are over 13 years of age and new to skiing, Arizona Snowbowl has programs that will provide you with free or deeply discounted lessons.
Open to both skiers and snowboarders, Snowbowl also boasts a Terrain Park with rails and spines.
There are two mountain day lodges nearby with restaurants and lounges.
Usually on the weekends, the area becomes more bustling as ski races happen and live music and DJs play the latest hits, making it a fun holiday getaway.
HOW TO GET THERE
The nearest airport is Flagstaff Pulliam Airport about 20 miles away.
If you are flying to Phoenix(Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl. Airport), renting a car is the best option.
It will take around 3 hours on Interstate 17 and you will be treated to stunning views.
But note that the drive-up can be challenging on snowy days if you are driving. The road is filled with bends and steep, and chains are frequently required.
If you are driving from Sedona to Arizona Snowbowl, on Highway 89A up Oak Creek Canyon can be challenging on snowy days. This journey takes around 1.5 hours(longer if conditions are tricky).
If you are visiting during January and February, on the weekends, a free shuttle runs from downtown Flagstaff every 20 minutes from two locations in town.
WHERE TO STAY?
Flagstaff has many options for accommodation, from apartments to rental cabins.
Here are some of my best recommendations:
If you want a closer stay, check out the base camp at Snowbowl, on the way up to the ski resort.
There are 18 cabins and six hotel-style rooms, Basecamp at Snowbowl is pet-friendly for a modest charge, and the on-site restaurant serves up hearty fare guaranteed to keep you going no matter how deep the snow.
SUNRISE PARK RESORT
Located in the White Mountains about 200 miles northeast of Phoenix, Sunrise Ski Area is another among the premier resorts for skiing in Arizona.
Sunrise is a few miles east of Show Low and Pinetop Lakeside, perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway from both places.
Do you know? Sunrise Park is also the only resort in the state that offers night skiing!
Offering 69 runs and 1,200 skiable acres, it is Arizona’s largest ski resort.
This alpine ski resort, in Greer, AZ, near the New Mexico border, includes 69 skiing areas spanning three mountains – Sunrise Peak, Cyclone Circle, and Apache Peak.
Up high in Arizona’s White Mountains, Sunrise Park is a full-service winter resort, with a base elevation of 9,200 feet, and the top of the lift-serviced area is 11,000 feet.
Sunrise is the best place in Arizona for long, groomed runs and is ideal for beginners and experts.
Enjoy downhill skiing on the Sunrise Express High-Speed Quadlift.
Challenging trails are at Cyclone Circle, ideal for experienced skiers.
Head to TerrainPark for snowboarding in the implanted rails.
If you want something different, go on an exciting sleigh ride through the woods.
Or enjoy the Resort’s indoor swimming pool and spa.
Drink your hot chocolate lounging by the fireplace.
You can have a comfortable stay at this vast resort, with weekday rates approximately ranging from $70 to $200 per night, with higher range room prices also including VIP Lift tickets.
Opening months – Sunrise Ski Area is open seven days a week during the ski season.
HOW TO REACH?
Sunrise Park Ski Resort is located about 4 hours drive from Phoenix.
The closest town is Greer, the beautiful mountain town.
SKI RESORT ELK RIDGE
Located close to Williams and the Grand Canyon National Park, Elk Ridge Ski Area is one of the best family-friendly resorts for skiing in Arizona.
Elk Ridge Ski Area is located 30 miles west of Flagstaff in Williams and is a fantastic day trip option from either of the cities.
Elk Ridge Ski Area is a popular getaway for skiing, snowboarding and tubing for all ages.
This ski hill is 38 acres in size with 11 runs, with 3 km of slope available for skiing and snowboarding and is equipped with two ski lifts for transporting guests.
Located at the southern gateway to the Grand Canyon South Rim, Elk Ridge Ski Area has ideal slopes for beginners, and every Thursday is only for the skiers.
If you are traveling with children, secure family discounts.
There is accommodation available with a food bar.
MOUNT LEMMON SKI VALLEY
Opening months – Winter season – Jan to March
If you are looking for skiing in Arizona near Tucson, Mount Lemmon Ski Valley is the best.
Tucked up in Coronado National Forest in the Santa Catalina Mountains, the resort is only 25 miles north of Tucson AZ.
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is the southernmost ski resort in the USA.
Sitting high above the valley floor at over 9,000 feet, amidst the towering pine trees of Coronado National Forest, the slopes of Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley are ideal for beginners and experts alike.
22 runs are spread across 200 acres, with three lifts, open from mid-December to April, providing ideal space for large groups of crowds.
There are many expert trails for seasoned skiers looking for adventure in Mt. Lemmon.
With an annual snowfall of over 200 inches and a 950-foot vertical drop, Mt Lemmon Ski Valley is also a great place to learn skiing.
The runs are gentle, and the lessons are cheap.
In addition to the main double chairlift, another smaller double chairlift and a surface tow are available as the base area for the bunny slopes.
There is no snow tubing here unlike the other places.
After having fun, head to the Grub Stake Grill patio at the famous Iron Door Restaurant, to enjoy stunning views of snow-capped peaks above and the sandy desert below.
Opening hours – Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is open daily from 9 AM to 4 PM.
Passes are $69 for adults and $39 for children with special discounts for seniors. Note that you must buy tokens in person as online tickets are unavailable.
HOW TO REACH
Tucson International Airport is the closest airport about 1.5 hours away.
It is best to drive to Mount Lemmon’s Ski Valley along the windy roads through the Coronado National Forest from Tucson.
Check road conditions before planning your trip as heavy snowfall causes disruptions.
ARIZONA NORDIC VILLAGE
If you want to go beyond resorts for skiing in Arizona, Arizona Nordic Village is one of the famous places loved by outdoor enthusiasts.
Located in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff, Arizona Nordic Village features over 40 miles of groomed cross-country ski and snowshoeing trails.
You can even stay overnight at the yurt village overlooking stunning views of the surrounding forest.
The Arizona Nordic Village, with 40 kilometres of trails, is best known for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snow-biking.
Note that reservations for equipment rentals must be made by 3 PM three days before your visit.
Opening hours – 9 AM to 4 PM and 6 PM to 9 PM Fridays if conditions allow.