Often associated with the desert, those hoping to spend some time at a ski resort will be happy to know that Arizona is home to a handful of locations. With runs on the side of a volcano, skiing or snowboarding in the state is an amazing experience. No matter where you head, you’re sure to shred.
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Arizona Ski Areas by City
While there are only 4 ski resorts in the state, if you’re willing to drive, you can enjoy a day in the snow near Arizona’s most popular cities. While some locations may be a few hours, or states, away, true winter sports enthusiasts will be willing to make the journey. If you plan a trip near one of these AZ destinations, you’ll have a great time on the slopes.
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Guide to Arizona’s 4 Ski Areas
Naturally, skiing and snowboarding isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when visualizing the state of Arizona. Instead, it’s more reminiscent of a hot, dry, desert landscape, yet for many Arizona natives, skiing at Arizona Ski Resorts is a favorite pastime!
In fact, the first of Arizona’s ski areas was opened in 1938. But skiing was introduced to Arizona much earlier than this, in 1915, when Ole and Pete Solberg used homemade wooden skis to glide down Mars Hill in Flagstaff.
The four-corner state, diagonally adjacent to Colorado, is famous for its deep canyons, high and low-elevation deserts, natural rock formations, and volcanic mountain ranges — some of which you may find yourself skiing down if you decide to hit the slopes in the Arizona mountains.
Out of the 194 named mountain ranges in the “Grand Canyon State”, some of the best ski experiences are found on Mt. Humphrey’s in the San Francisco Peaks, Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains, as well as Sunrise Peak, Cyclone Circle, and Apache Peak all located in the White Mountains.
Top elevations range from 9,000 to 12,000 feet. Some of the highest even hold snow-capped peaks all summer making for a long, fulfilling ski season, despite its southern location.
High altitudes, abundant snowfall, and cold steady temperatures in the winter create the perfect environment and conditions for some legendary skiing and snowboarding. The ski season usually lasts from November to April thanks to heavy snow that accumulates in the mountains of central, northern, and southeastern AZ.
Arizona is home to 4 impressive ski resorts that offer plenty of skiable terrain, high peaks, and slopes for all experience levels.
Nestled on the western side of Mt. Humphreys in the majestic San Francisco Peaks, Arizona Snowbowl is just a 7-minute drive from Flagstaff, the state’s top ski town. The top elevation of 11,500 feet makes for an epic ski experience and arguably has some of the best ski slopes in the state.
Not to mention you’d be skiing down the side of an ancient volcano. You can plan to ski and stay since this resort offers customers plenty of lodging and dining options.
Sunrise Park Resort
This alpine ski resort in Greer, AZ includes 3 different mountains; Sunrise Peak, Cyclone Circle, and Apache Peak. This resort holds the title of Arizona’s largest ski resort, offering 65 runs and 1,200 skiable acres. It’s also one of the only resorts in the state that offers night skiing, so you can’t go wrong skiing at Sunrise Park Resort!
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley
Positioned in the Coronado Forest in the small mountain town of Summerhaven, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley offers a much smaller resort than others in the state. With 200 skiable acres and 22 moderate/difficult runs, it’s the ideal place for seasoned skiers looking for a challenge. If you’re visiting from out of town, the nearest major city for lodging is Tucson.
Elk Ridge Ski and Outdoor Recreation
This resort has been a commercial skiing and sledding area since the 1960s. Located in the town of Williams, it provides beginner skiers with 37 acres of terrain to learn the basics of skiing and just to have fun in the snow. Although this resort is temporarily closed, the owners plan to maintain Elk Ridge as an affordable, family-friendly ski area.
Skiing Nearby States
If you’re up for a road trip, there are other awesome ski resorts to check out in the neighboring states. And depending on where you are, it may just be a morning drive but if not, you won’t regret making it a weekend getaway!
Lee Canyon Resort in Nevada is just a 5.5-hour drive from Phoenix and offers some unique snow sports aside from just skiing and snowboarding.
There’s also Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort in California. It’s about the same distance from Phoenix but definitely worth the drive to experience the adrenaline rush that comes with skiing down the 1,665-foot vertical drop!
One thing’s for sure, whichever resort you choose, it’s sure to be an incredible winter adventure for all ages.