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THE DESERT DWELLERS GUIDE TO REAL WINTER PLAN YOUR OWN SNOW DAY BY AIMEE WELCH

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ere in the Valley of the Sun, “winter activities” means something a little different than in most of the country. When winter finally arrives, we’re digging out our hiking boots and soccer balls instead of ski boots and sleds. Don’t get me wrong, Phoenicians love our shovel-and-freezing-pipesfree version of winter, but we love to play in the snow as much as the next guy. That’s what makes Arizona so great. We can enjoy the sunny, warm days in the Valley all winter long, but “real winter” in all its snowy glory is just a short drive away! NORTHERN ARIZONA Located at an elevation of approximately 7,000 feet, Flagstaff is one of the most popular and closest places Phoenicians go to play in the snow. Mount Humphreys towers above the city at an elevation of 12,633 feet and is home to Arizona Snowbowl, the state’s largest ski resort with eight chairs, three terrain parks, and 55 trails spread across 777 skiable acres. There are runs suited for beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders, so everyone in the family can enjoy themselves. For adaptive lesson facilitation or for those who prefer a sturdier ride, ski bikes are one of the newer options on the mountain. If you love the snow, but tearing down a steep mountain while standing up isn’t your idea of fun, there are plenty of other great options. Mormon Lake Lodge is a short drive from town and allows backcountry sledding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Flagstaff Snow Park is a great place to go snow tubing (eight runs), build a snowman, and spend the day enjoying the scenery. Then you can grab some marshmallows and warm up around the outdoor fireplaces. Dogs are allowed to play in the snow on a leash, but no tube riding for your furry pal. Just up the road, 15 miles northwest of Flagstaff in the Coconino National Forest, Arizona Nordic Village (formerly The Flagstaff Nordic Center) offers groomed trails for cross country skiing, multi-use trails for snowshoeing and snow biking, yurts and cabins for glamping, ski lessons, and more. Flagstaff is approximately 150 miles from Phoenix, making it a great destination for a day trip or weekend getaway. We’re all green here, but just a reminder that Flagstaff has a “leave no

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greenliving | February 2019

trace” policy meaning you need to take everything you bring back with you (including sleds that have crashed and burned!). EASTERN ARIZONA Greer, Arizona, around 226 miles east of Phoenix, is home to Sunrise Park Resort. With 65 trails, eight lifts across 800 acres, there’s plenty of mountain to explore on skis, snowboards or a snow tube. Private and group lessons are available, and there are a variety of lodging options within a short drive of the resort. It’s a little further of a drive than Flagstaff, but the runs are long and definitely worth the drive when the conditions are good. SOUTHERN ARIZONA Believe or not, you can head south of Phoenix and find ski resorts too! Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is located in the Coronado National Forest, just above Tucson. With 22 runs, three lifts, ski school, restaurants and shopping, Ski Valley is a great place to spend your snow day. COLORADO If you don’t mind a longer drive or a quick flight, our neighbor to the north is teeming with incredible places to play in the snow! Purgatory Resort in Durango, Colorado is the closest — about an eight-hour drive from Phoenix but worth every mile. With 1,605 skiable acres, 101 trails and seven terrain parks, as well as plentiful lodging and dining options, kids’ lessons and activities, it’s a great place to take the whole family. No matter where you decide to go out and play in the snow, be sure to call or visit the website in advance to check weather conditions and hours of operation. Just because some of us dig out our most wintry heavy jackets and wool hats when the temperature drops below 60 degrees (if the snowshoe fits…), many desert dwellers miss the all-bundled-up, runny nose, freezing toes days of “real winter.” Snow day, anyone? Aimee Welch is a writer and editor from Ohio, where she gained a lot of experience in “real winter.” She loves to snowboard, visit snow, hike in the snow, and take pictures of snow as often as possible. She now lives with her family in Chandler, AZ so she settles for rain.

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Green Living February 2019  

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