The Grand Canyon State is more famous for its dry deserts than its snowy mountains, but if you know where to look there’s some excellent skiing for all, from first-timers to pros. We’ve picked out the top mountains to make it simple for you to tick Arizona off your ski trip bucket list!
Due to COVID-19, safety measures were put in place by the State of Arizona which impacted the 20/21 ski season. These included mandatory mask-wearing in certain counties, physical distancing and encouraging cashless transactions. In Coconino County which is home to Arizona Snowbowl, restaurants offering indoor dining were required to close temporarily in January 2021. Such restrictions are not anticipated to continue into the 21/22 winter season.
If you’re serious about skiing in Arizona then this is the destination for you! A new high-speed chairlift and gondola combo is coming for 2020/21, that’ll whisk you up 2,000 ft in just 7 minutes. From the top at 11,500 ft there’s a hike-to double black diamond trails in the Upper Bowl, steep groomers and powder-filled glades. The Hart Prairie novice area enjoys its own corner of the resort where beginners can practice their parallel turns in peace, plus the resort's stand-out terrain park on Sunset Boulevard has its own dedicated chairlift. A mountain lodge with cosy wooden cabins offers nearby accommodation, otherwise 14 mi away in Flagstaff you’ll find a wide range of places to stay.
Sunrise Park enjoys a prime spot in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, and offers a wonderful family-friendly ski experience for anyone prepared to make the journey here. There are seven lifts connecting 65 trails, with Apache Peak the largest of the three separate mountains at 11,100 ft. The ski school offers a kid’s ski program, plus childcare facilities are available right next to the slopes. Just 3 mi from the resort is Sunrise Park Lodge, offering comfy rooms, an indoor pool and hot tub, plus a free shuttle to the resort. If you don’t stay here the nearest accommodation options are in Pinetop-Lakeside, around a 45-minute drive away.
Carved out amongst the towering pine trees of Coronado National Forest, the slopes of Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley offer the closest skiing to Tucson. In little over an hours’ drive you can be high up in the Santa Catalina Mountains, with 22 trails serviced by one trusty double chairlift! There’s actually a surface lift and short chairlift too, but these are just for the bunny slopes. If you’re a first-timer, learning to ski at Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley offers great value for money. You’ll find no terrain park or snow tubing here, but kick back on the Grub Stake Grill patio to enjoy a rare view of snow-capped peaks above and sandy desert below!