The mountains are calling.
Photo courtesy of Taos Ski Valley
Phoenix averages temps in the 60s throughout what you could call a “winter” season, if you’re feeling generous. And while there’s a slim possibility of snow in our winter forecast (although it has happened before), you don’t have to go far to find it. Arizona is home to three ski resorts. And just across state lines you can find some of the best skiing in not just the Southwest, but the entire country. Whether you’re jet setting or road tripping, these ski destinations check all the boxes for unforgettable wintertime adventures suitable for seasoned skiers who can finesse black diamond runs with ease and bunny hill rookies hitting the slopes for the very first time.
Distance from Phoenix: 158 miles, 2.5 hours
Arguably the most popular, and certainly busiest, ski destination in the state, it’s really no wonder why this North Arizona draws in the biggest crowds. Just 14-miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona Snowbowl is relatively easy to access. Not only is getting there a breeze, it pulls rank as Arizona’s largest ski resort. Arizona Snowbowl is perched on top of a dormant stratovolcano called Humphrey’s Peak, which happens to be the largest mountain in the state. And it’s home to the largest beginner terrain in the Southwest. There are 55 runs, the longest stretching 2-miles, across Snowbowl’s 777-acres of skiable area. And while any of the six aerial chairlifts or two conveyors can get you around, the brand new Arizona Gondola can get you there the fastest. One of only six in the country, this high-speed lift covers 2,000-feet of vert in just seven minutes. And it carries more passengers than the previous lift, which ultimately means shorter lines and more time on the slopes. Flex your freestyle skills at Round Up Rail Garden and Sunset Terrain Park, two of Snowbowl’s terrain parks. Beginners and intermediate skiers have options, too. Point your skis to Hart Prairie Start Park or Humphrey’s Progression Park for small and medium rails and approachable boxes and jumps. When your legs get tired a cozy cabin is waiting for you just down the mountain.
Find Airbnb nearby: Search Flagstaff area
Distance from Phoenix: 155 miles, 3 hours
Located in the Santa Catalina Mountains just northeast of Tucson, Mount Lemmon Ski Valley is the southernmost ski destitionation in the country. Sure, temps may be mild enough to peel off some layers throughout the season, but at 9,157-feet above sea level snow is certainly not a problem—annual snowfall clocks in around 180-inches. There’s about 200-acres of skiable terrain with 21 runs that range from beginner to expert. And two lifts and a convenient tow can move you around the mountain. While there’s no lodging options atop Mt. Lemmon, nearby Summerhaven offers no shortage of mountain cabins and Tucson, where you could quite literally take a swim in a resort pool and hit the slopes on the same day, is just an hour’s journey away.
Find Airbnb nearby: Search Tucson area
Distance from Phoenix: 219 miles, 4 hours
A trio of mountains (Sunrise Peak, Cyclone Peak, and Apache Peak) make up the terrain at this Eastern Arizona Ski Resort. Positioned on the Colorado Plateau and situated atop the White Mountains, Sunrise Ski Park provides excellent alpine skiing conditions throughout the winter season. With 65 total runs, advanced riders and adrenaline junkies can barrel down Tempest or Thunder while those just getting their ski legs can coast down Clear Cut or Aspen Trail. There are nine lifts that can get you where you need to go across the three mountains. There’s something for every skier or snowboarder here, whether you’re working up confidence to hit the terrain park or taking it slow in the cross-country skiing areas. Sunrise Ski Park also offers night skiing throughout the months of January and February so you can seize the Arizona ski season to its fullest potential. Greer is a mountain town and it’s pretty remote, meaning your options are somewhat limited far as accommodations go. But limited doesn’t mean nonexistent, there’s a no-frills lodge nearby and a handful of rustic cabin rentals in the area.
Find Airbnb nearby: Search Greer area
Distance from Phoenix: 484 miles, 8 hours
Just eight blocks wide and 12 blocks long, Telluride may be a small mountain town, but it’s got a big history, big slopes, and big opportunity for winter season fun—dog sledding, fat tire bike rides, nordic skiing, helicopter skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and even sleigh rides, are just some of the activities you can add to your itinerary. Telluride was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 for its prominent role in the history of the American West, and today its historic buildings, Victorian-era homes, and clapboard storefronts provide a winter wonderland-esque backdrop suitable for a ski trip for the ages. Great snow conditions and crowd-free runs are just two reasons why Telluride consistently ranks as one of the nation’s top ski destinations. The weather is also primo, with 300 days of yearly sunshine to bask in. Add 300-inches of annual snowfall and 2,000-acres of incredible skiable land and you’ll find there’s simply no question why this small ski town is such a big hit. Stay awhile, Telluride’s accommodations come in no short supply. And you can also find a cozy place to stay at Mountain Village, where slope-side access is readily available and just a free scenic gondola ride away from the excitement in Telluride.
Find Airbnb nearby: Search Telluride area
Distance from Phoenix: 612 miles, 9.5 hours
California’s famous for its surf culture. But The Golden State has a solid ski culture, too. And there’s no better way to come to know it than at Mammoth Mountain. Offering a uniquely California ski experience, Mammoth Mountain has over 300 days of annual sunshine on its slopes. The unique terrain that envelops 3,500 skiable acres, 400-inches of annual snowfall, and a long season that kicks off in November and stretches well into June doesn’t hurt either. Mammoth Mountain offers a shortlist of accommodations in the heart of it all, but if you find yourself staying in town you can easily get to the slopes by hopping a ride on the free mountain shuttle, which has pickup and drop-off locations at all four mountain base lodges. From there you’re just a lift ride away from blood-pumping runs like Wall Street and Lost in the Woods. Tusks Bar at the Main Lodge has a mean happy hour and you can find California BBQ at The Mill, a slopeside bar with an open-air sun deck that’s been dubbed the best patio on the mountain.
Find Airbnb nearby: Search Mammoth Lakes area
Distance from Phoenix: 567 miles, 9.5 hours
Sure, to outsiders New Mexico might conjure up images of old pueblos and vast sprawling deserts, but point your GPS towards Northern New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains and you’ll find snow-covered peaks, alpine forests, and quite possibly the best skiing conditions in the Land of Enchantment. Taos Ski Valley was founded over 60 years ago by Swiss German ski pioneer Ernie Blake. Today, much of Blake’s legacy, charm, and hospitality still remain. Located adjacent to Lift 1, The Blake, an 80-room alpine guesthouse and nod to the original owners, makes an unbeatable homebase. From here you have seemingly instant access to bone dry powder shots, steep chutes, two terrain parks, and an abundance of cruiseable, well-manicured slopes. In total there are 110 trails and 14 lifts to get you to ‘em all. When your stomach starts rumbling glide into The Phoenix Grill for marshmallow and chocolate syrup-topped hot chocolate or park yourself at Whistlestop Cafe for awhile and devour crepes of both the sweet and savory variety before making your triumphant return back to the slopes.
Find Airbnb nearby: Search Taos area
Distance from Phoenix: 660 miles, 10 hours
A single day at America’s largest ski resort just isn’t enough. Plan accordingly and make time to explore all that Park City Mountain has to offer. Activities run the gamut from guided snowshoe tours, dog sledding, and horse-drawn sleigh rides to snowmobiling and heli-skiing, ice skating, and of course you’ll have to make time to get acquainted with the après-ski scene. But first you’ll want to get acquainted with the fresh powder. Take the Town Lift, it makes getting to Park City Mountain insanely easy—it loads right on historic Main Street. Admission is typically included in your hotel stay or you can pay the fee to ride all day. Once you’ve reached Park City Mountain an explorable 7,300-acres and 348 trails across 17 mountain peaks is right at your ski tips. Set your sights on Jupiter Peak and tear through some expert-only double black diamonds, catch a gondola ride over and traverse your way to Cloud Dine for lunch on the mountain or post up at Lookout Cabin and soak in some epic panoramic views while simultaneously siping spiked drinks and planning your next move. Any of the mountain’s eight terrain parks are solid options and are ideal for riders and skiers of all abilities.
Find Airbnb nearby: Search Park City area
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