Skiing and snowboarding in Arizona? Absolutely!
Located on the magnificent Mount Humpreys in the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona Snowbowl is just 2 hours from Phoenix and 4 hours from Tucson.
Originally opened in 1938, Arizona Snowbowl is 777 acres of skiing and snowboarding bliss. With 55 runs and 8 lifts, there’s something for every skier. Whether this is your first time skiing or you are seasoned on the slopes, Arizona Snowbowl has a lot to offer – including the longest skiing season in the state!
Flagstaff receives natural snowfall (about 260 inches per year) due to its elevation at 9,200 feet, but Arizona Snowbowl also makes use of a state-of-the-art snowmaking system in order to “provide consistency” and to “allow guests to plan their vacation with confidence.” As a result, Arizona Snowbowl is able to stay open from late November to mid-April.
WHAT TO WEAR
One of the most important things to consider for your skiing or snowboarding adventure is what to wear – and not for fashion reasons! The amount of fun that you (and your kids) have will be directly tied to if you are able to stay dry and warm throughout the day.
If at all possible, DO NOT wear jeans, sweats, or leggings.
- BOTTOM: base layer pants, leggings, or long underwear covered by waterproof pants or bib
- TOP: base layer long-sleeve shirt, light sweatshirt/sweater, and waterproof snow/ski jacket
- FEET: one pair of warm boot socks
- HANDS: waterproof gloves
- HEAD: a helmet and goggles
If you don’t own everything on the above list, consider borrowing from a friend or family member.
Helmets are available to rent at Arizona Snowbowl for $10 per person per day, but it would be more economical to borrow one from a friend or to purchase a used helmet at a local sports shop. eBay is another option, where ski helmets can be found for $18-$50+.
Goggles are NOT available for rent at Arizona Snowbowl so be sure to borrow or purchase a pair before your trip. While goggles are not required, they improve your visibility on the slopes, reduce any glare from the sun, and keep snow drifts from slamming into your face as you descend.
Arizona Snowbowl has rental packages available for both children and adults.
- Full-Day Rental for Adult (ages 13+): $39
- Half-Day Rental for Adult (ages 13+): $30
- Full-Day Rental for Child (ages 12 & under): $29
- Half-Day Rental for Child (ages 12 & under): $25
Rentals include: boots or board, skis (if applicable), and poles (if applicable). Rentals DO NOT include helmets or goggles. Be sure to know the weight, height, and birthdate of every person in your party.
Helmets are available for rent at a rate of $10 per person per day.
If you have boots but need to rent skis & poles (or vice versa), there are reduced rental rates available.
The rental area is open from 8:00am to 4:30pm daily. Last rentals at 2:30pm. Equipment is due back by 4:30pm. A $10 late fee applies.
Arizona Snowbowl also has a store where you can purchase coats, bibs, gloves, goggles ($40-$300), helmets ($80-$200), hats, and almost anything else you may have forgotten.
WHAT TO BRING
Here is a short list of what to bring with you for a day of skiing or snowboarding at Arizona Snowbowl:
- Sunscreen: It’s easy to get duped into thinking that sunscreen is unnecessary on cold or snowy days. In fact, the opposite may be true. A higher elevation, combined with sunshine reflecting on the snow, may make you more susceptible to sunburn. Apply before you hit the slopes and try to remember to reapply at midday as well. Same goes for chapstick.
- Snacks: Like any athletic endeavor, skiing and snowboarding will likely make you hungry. It is a good idea to pack dried fruit, beef jerky, nutrition bars, or another snack of your choice. As far as we could tell, snacks were permitted inside the restaurants and in the outdoor dining areas – but most people were also purchasing meals, candy bars, or drinks on-site.
- Water Bottles: Water fountains (including water bottle filling stations) are available at Arizona Snowbowl. You can bring your own refillable or disposable bottles. Otherwise, expect to pay $2-$4 for a water bottle, a soda bottle, or gatorade at one of the on-site restaurants.
Parking is free at Arizona Snowbowl. There are nine lots, but they sometimes do fill to capacity on holidays, busy weekends, and powder days.
While the parking can be pretty convenient, depending on where you park, you are almost certainly going to want to rent a locker instead of walking back-and-forth to your car. Lockers can be rented for $10 per day. We rented a locker for our family and were able to put in: four pairs of boots, extra layers, snacks, and a bag.
- Arrive early – especially on weekends and holidays. Like most attractions, the ski resort will be most crowded midday. In order to avoid long lines, give yourself plenty of time – especially if you are new to skiing. The lodges and rental areas open at 8:00am.
- Hydrate ahead of time. Drink lots of water the night before and throughout the day to stay energized and strong on the slopes.
- Wear layers. Freezing temperatures? You may be surprised to find that you get…hot! Be sure to wear layers so that you can shed some clothing, if necessary.
- Make reservations for Ski School in advance. Walk-ins are available on a limited basis, but it is best to book ahead of time. See below.
If you and/or your kids have never skied before or are new to skiing, you may want to consider the Arizona Snowbowl Ski & Ride School.
You can spot the certified ski and snowboard instructors by their royal blue jackets.
Children are grouped by age and ability level – SkiWee program for ages 4-7 and the MiniRider program for ages 8-12. On weekdays, lessons are available as follows: 2-hour morning (10:00am-noon), 2-hour afternoon (1:00-3:00pm), or 4-hour (10:00am-3:00pm, lunch included). There are more lesson options available on weekends and during holidays.
Reservations are strongly recommended. If you drive up the mountain on the day of and expect to enroll your kids in ski school, you may be disappointed. Walk-ins are sometimes available, but on a very limited basis.
Q&A About Children’s Ski School at Arizona Snowbowl
How far in advance should I make reservations for ski school?
As early as possible – especially for private lessons and the 4-7 year old SkiWee program! Reservations are recommended for all ages on busy weekends, but Mountain Kid (8-12), Teen, and Adult group lessons do accept walk-ups based on availability.
What should my child wear?
All children are required to wear waterproof pants, a waterproof jacket, a hat or helmet, waterproof gloves or mittens, and sunglasses or ski goggles. Please label all items with your child’s name.
Does my child need to have a helmet?
Helmets are recommended for safety reasons, but are not required. If possible, borrow from a friend or purchase one of your own at a sports shop. Helmets are also available for rent at Arizona Snowbowl for $10 per day.
What is the difference between a ski helmet and a bike helmet?
Ski helmets have more coverage, are warmer, and generally include earmuffs. Most ski helmets are also designed to be used with goggles, which is evident in the shape as well as the goggle retention strap/clip at the back of the helmet. Bike helmets have a large number of ventilations holes which allow snow to get in and they do not protect the ears like ski helmets do.
Does my child need to have goggles?
Goggles are recommended, but not required. Note that goggles are not for rent at Arizona Snowbowl. You will want to borrow or purchase a pair before you come.
Will I be able to see my child while they are at Ski School?
The slopes can get very busy – especially during holidays and peak seasons. You will check-in your child at the designated time and then pick them up when the lesson ends. They won’t necessarily stay in the same area the entire time so it may be difficult to keep eyes on them for the entire duration of ski school.
What kind of lunch is provided for the 4-hour ski school?
Lunch generally consists of pizza, a side of fruit, and hot chocolate (depending on availability). For those with allergies and/or other dietary restrictions, alternatives can be arranged at check-in.
Lunch/snacks are not provided for 2-hour ski school lessons.
Which chairs/slopes are recommended for a child’s first day(s) of skiing?
The Little Spruce conveyor is where the children’s ski school is located. After that, try the Big Spruce conveyor, Aspen chair, and – finally – Hart Prairie lift. That would be a good progression to gradually increase difficulty.
How old/tall does my child need to be to ride each of the lifts?
There are no age or height requirements, however children must be independent and cannot be in backpack style child carriers.
BABIES & TODDLERS AT ARIZONA SNOWBOWL
Bringing a baby or toddler with you to Arizona Snowbowl? There won’t be much for your little one to do.
If it’s a cold or blizzardy day, you’ll likely find yourself inside at one of the lodge restaurants – which can get crowded and aren’t especially clean due to people tromping about in muddy and/or wet boots.
If the sun is shining and the temperatures are moderate, you can bundle up your baby/toddler and play in the snow outside or watch other family members as they descend the slopes. Note that sleds and tubes are not permitted on Arizona Snowbowl.
One of our top suggestions for the Arizona Snowbowl management team is to build a distinct area for parents of young children. For example, AZ Snowbowl could create a private lounge where fathers and/or mothers with young children could feed, change, and care for their babies & toddlers. This would allow parents to more easily “trade” off skiing and/or experience skiing as a family.
Can my toddler/preschooler go skiing?
Kids must be at least 4-years-old in order to enroll at ski school at Arizona Snowbowl. That being said, you are welcome to rent/bring equipment and to attempt skiing with your little one on your own.
Is there a family restroom anywhere on the property?
Are there changing tables in the restrooms?
Yes – but in the women’s restrooms only.
Is there an area where I can nurse my baby or pump?
Unfortunately, the lodges and common spaces can get crazy-crowded on weekend. Privacy will likely be hard to come by. That being said, there are benches and chairs in the restaurants (see picture below of the restaurant at Hart Prairie Lodge) and locker rooms.
Can my baby or toddler ride in the ski lift with me?
There are no age or height requirements. Note that babies cannot be in backpack style child carriers.
There are three restaurants at Arizona Snowbowl: Hart Prairie Lodge, Agassiz Lodge, and Freemont Restaurant & Bar. A food truck (Trails End) is also open on the weekends.
Hart Prairie Lodge is a cafeteria-style restaurant and bar with a central location, which makes it easily accessible from all slopes. There is plentiful outdoor seating and AZ Snowbowl bills this restaurant as “great for families with a rustic, mountain lodge feel.” If you are enrolling in ski school or if you are a beginning skier, you may find that Hart Prairie Lodge is your “home base” for the day.
Agassiz Lodge is a cafeteria-style restaurant and bar, located in the upper base area next to the Agassiz lift. Indoor seating is limited, but there is a large deck with great views of the peaks and surrounding runs. Agassiz is popular with younger groups, couples, and solo skiers. Fewer families convene at this location.
Fremont Lodge is the newest restaurant and has a modern, airy feel. This is still fast-casual service, but you’ll find some higher-end menu options such as Kobe Beef hot dogs and Elk Sausage.
All three restaurants are ultra-casual and offer both breakfast & lunch entrees – burritos, sandwiches, burgers, chicken tenders, pizza, chili, etc. – at typical amusement center prices ($7-$15/meal).
While there are no children’s menus, most of the entree choices are items that are often found on standard kids menus – pizza, grilled cheese, tenders, etc.
NON-SKIERS AT ARIZONA SNOWBOWL
If you are visiting Arizona Snowbowl but do not plan on skiing (for example, your teens are skiing but you are not), you will probably find yourself at one of the lodge restaurants. Be sure to bring a water bottle, a book, and/or some other hobby.
Are any of the lifts open to non-skiers?
In the winter, the Grand Canyon Express (Arizona’s only 6-person high speed chairlift) offers scenic chairlift rides on Saturdays and Sundays. However, scenic chairlift riders must ride separately from skiers/snowboarders and cannot unload at the top.
HOTELS/LODGING AT ARIZONA SNOWBOWL
Arizona Snowbowl does not have an on-site hotel or resort. Never fear though! Flagstaff is less than 30 minutes away and there are lots of options there.
SKIING DEALS & PROMOTIONS
There are so many excellent deals to be found at Arizona Snowbowl! In fact, you may be surprised at how affordable it can be.
Current promotions include:
- FREE Kid’s Season Pass (really!): Children, ages 10 and under, receive a FREE season pass that is good every day at Arizona Snowbowl, Purgatory Resort (same owner), and three other mountains during the 2019-19 winter season. No purchase necessary!
- World’s Best Spring Break: Beginning in March 2019, receive tickets for as low as $29 per day with the option of adding lessons + rentals for just $10 each – which means you could be out on the slopes for less than $50 a day! Plus, each purchaser receives a FREE $15 gift card to spend during their day on the mountain – AKA free lunch!
- Stay & Play: Stay free at select Flagstaff hotels when you buy two full-day, full-price adult lift tickets.
- Ski FREE – On Your Birthday: Receive a free lift ticket on your birthday. Must present an ID at the ticket window to redeem.
- Military Ski Free on Tuesdays: Active duty military ski free every Tuesday (non-holiday). Must present military ID.
Be sure to check the Arizona Snowbowl specials page for complete details. Some promotions require online/advance purchase. Select blackout dates may apply.
Because Flagstaff is such a short drive from Tucson, a season pass or POWER PASS may be well worth the price – especially if you would like to return many times throughout the year. With a season that extends from November to April, you should have plenty of opportunities to practice your skiing or boarding skills!