Thursday, October 26, 2006

Arizona Skiing

Ah, Arizona. Land of sun, scorching summer days and winter skiing fun. That’s right, skiing. Yes, Virginia, Arizona, known for tumbleweed snowmen, actually gets snow.

There are four ski areas to choose from in Arizona, all within a few hours drive from Phoenix, the capital of Arizona.

The most well-known of the ski areas in Arizona is located in northern Arizona, 7 miles north of Flagstaff. The Arizona Snowbowl offers 4 lifts and 32 trails for skiers and snowboards of all levels, and 2,300 feet of vertical drop. You can also test your freestyle skills at their Sunset Terrain Park which includes obstacles and spines. Lodging available in nearby Flagstaff or you can choose to stay at the ski resort at the Ski Lift Lodge & Cabins located at the base of the San Francisco Peaks. For reservations, call (928) 774-0729.

The largest ski resort in Arizona is located in McNary in Eastern Arizona. The Sunrise Park Resort is owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and is just a 4-hour drive from Tucson and Phoenix. You have for your skiing and snowboarding pleasure 800 acres on three interconnected mountains. Base elevation is 9,200 feet extending up to 11,000 feet. They offer 8 lifts and 65 runs for skiers of all levels, as well as a separate snowboarding area, cross country ski trails, and a Terrain Park featuring a snow half pipe, implanted wood and metal rails. The Sunrise Ski Resort is open from the first week of December through the first weekend of April. Night skiing begins January 2. Lodging is available at the 100-room Sunrise Park Lodge located on Sunrise Lake. Winter rates begin at $124 per night. Call (800) 772-7669 for more information.

Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is located on Mt. Lemmon just outside Tucson, which is the largest city in Southern Arizona. Though smaller than the Arizona Snowbowl and Sunrise Park Resort, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley offers 80 skiable acres, 3 lifts, 18 trails and a 907-ft. vertical drop. The longest run is 8,500 ft. Their trail ratings are: Easiest at 20%; More Difficult at 38% and Most Difficult at 42%. There is no cross-country or heli skiing available.

For those of you learning to ski, you might want to head up to the Elk Ridge Ski Area, formerly the Williams Ski Area located in Williams, Arizona, approximately 30 miles west of Flagstaff. The Elk Ridge Ski Area offers two lifts and seven trails. Elk Ridge is typically open Thursday through Monday, starting mid December. Thursdays is “skiing only” day. For more information call (928) 814-5038.

If you’re planning a visit to Arizona this winter, or if you live in Arizona, it’s nice to know a day of skiing is within driving distance. Who needs to hop a plane to Colorado or Utah when winter fun is right in your own backyard?

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