Snowbowl – Flagstaff Arizona
The Snowbowl is Arizona’s top ski area, located on the western slopes of the state’s highest peak, Humphreys Peak. The area has an average snowfall of 260 inches and a vertical drop of 2,300 feet. The season for skiers and snowboarders typically runs from mid-December to mid-April. The Snowbowl has 77 skiable acres served by four chairlifts. A fifth of the 32 runs are advanced, with the rest split evenly between beginner and intermediate. There are two day lodges, Hart Prairie and Agassiz. The resort opened in 1938.
The western drought has hurt snowfall at the resort in recent years, but the Snowbowl has won permission to create artificial snow after a 30-year legal battle with Native American tribes that objected on religious grounds, with the Hopi tribe arguing that the ski area’s expansion would endanger the sacred home of the Hopis sacred kachinas, or spirits. As part of that project, the Snowbowl will be expanding its lodges, adding two new lifts, 10 trails and a halfpipe.
The 15-mile drive from Flagstaff is on paved roads that are generally plowed but can be hazardous during winter storms. In the summer, the Snowbowl runs a triple chairlift to the upper slopes of Agassiz Peak at 11,500 feet. From there, you can see the Grand Canyon’s North Rim more than 80 miles away and other landmarks in the San Francisco Peaks, including Kendrick Peak, Wild Bill Hill and Wing Mountain.
The chairlift is typically open from Memorial Day through October, when the fall color from the aspens in the meadows is at its peak. Jackets and sunscreen are advised even in summer because of the cold winds and bright sun on the peak. Trails up the mountain have been closed to repair damage to the fragile alpine tundra from past hikers.