Arizona ski areas are more plentiful than many people may first think. The southwestern United States actually features a range of alluring snowy destinations, whether in California, New Mexico, or Arizona. There are several Arizona ski resorts within easy enough driving distance of Phoenix and Tucson, so winter sports enthusiasts who live in Arizona will not be forced to fly to Colorado or any other far off destinations to enjoy some skiing and snowboarding. Although the two most well-known resorts are probably the Arizona Snowbowl and the Sunrise Park Resort, there are other places that are well worth checking out when it comes to skiing in Arizona. Just because parts of Arizona reach temperatures well into the 100s in the summer months does not mean that its highest peaks do not enjoy some serious snowfall in the winter.
The Arizona Snowbowl is one of the Arizona ski areas located about two and a half hours from Phoenix. It is situated in the fun city of Flagstaff. The resort features a top elevation of 11,500 feet and a 9,200-foot bottom elevation with a vertical rise of 2,300 feet. There are four lifts that serve the 32 trails at the Snowbowl. Beginner trails make up 37 percent of the runs, 42 percent for intermediates, and 21 percent for advanced skiers and snowboarders. The winter season generally runs from the middle to end of December to the middle of April. There is no lodging right at the resort, but there are some cabins within walking distance. The Ski Lift Lodge and Cabins are just seven miles away and there are over 4,000 rooms available in the city of Flagstaff. There are two restaurants on the mountain. This is one of the premiere places for skiing in Arizona.
The Sunrise Park Resort is the largest of all the Arizona ski resorts. It is situated in the town of McNary in the White Mountains of Arizona. Sunrise Park features a top elevation of 11,500 feet, a bottom elevation of 9,200 feet, and a vertical rise of 2,300 feet. The average snowfall in this part of the state is an impressive 250 inches annually. Ten lifts serve 65 trails over 800 acres of lovely terrain. Beginner trails are 37 percent of the total, 42 percent for intermediates, and 21 percent for experts. This is the place to go for serious skiing in Arizona. Even the most advanced riders will find the black diamond hills especially thrilling and challenging. Lodging is available here at the Sunrise Lodge and there are a range of other options located just a few miles from the resort.
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is the southernmost ski area in the entire United States. It is located in Tucson (believe it or not) in the Catalina Mountains. There is only one ski lift and eighteen runs, but you can ski and snowboard there. The Elk Ridge Ski Area is another of the Arizona ski resorts worth looking into. This one is geared completely toward beginners and intermediates. It is perfect for family ski vacations for groups that are just learning their ways around the slopes. There are seven runs and two lifts, as well as great lessons and instruction. It is located 30 miles west of Flagstaff on I-40.
Despite the often hot weather, there are in fact Arizona ski areas. You just have to know where to look to find great places for ski vacations in this state.
Image: Sunrise Ski Resort