Arizona: An Unexpected Winter Wonderland

Most people don’t associate snowy scenes and experiences with the great state of Arizona, but a slightly closer look reveals the Grand Canyon State offers plenty of wintertime activities that require warm jackets, gloves and hearty boots. You just have to know where to look!

“Arizona is unexpected in so many ways,” says Lisa Urias, CEO/EDD of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “One of my favorite ways to surprise people is to share our wealth of winter recreation activities both in northern – and yes – even Southern Arizona!”

Get your warm clothes and hot chocolate ready to discover a breathtaking Arizona winter wonderland! 

Ice Skate in Downtown Tucson


Tucson Holiday Ice offers Tucsonians and visitors of all ages an opportunity to enjoy skating on a real outdoor ice rink in the heart of downtown. The event runs through Jan. 8 and it’s Southern Arizona, so you only need a light jacket!
Cost: $22 per 90-min. session for adults; $15 per 90-min. session for kids. Must purchase online.
For more information:

Hit the Slopes at Ski Valley at Mount Lemmon

Tucson Area

Located near Tucson, Mount Lemmon Ski Valley offers skiers and snowboarders 22 trails to explore at the southernmost ski area in the United States. The area, which typically opens for skiing and snowboarding later in the season, also includes a casual indoor restaurant, a fudge shop and a general store with a gift shop in the small mountain town of Summerhaven.
For more information:

Arizona Snowbowl

Tackle the Trails at Arizona Snowbowl Winter Resort

Flagstaff/30 minutes from Downtown

Arizona Snowbowl Winter Resort is less than half an hour from historic Downtown Flagstaff and offers skiers and boarders of all levels more than 50 trails and an adaptive program (with optional two- and four-hour lessons) gives riders of varying abilities the chance to hit the slopes with confidence. There are also three terrain parks for freestylers who want to hone their skills. Snowbowl also has the distinction of being the only resort that offers views of the Grand Canyon, which you can see from the top of the Agassiz Chairlift.
For more information:

Trek the Arizona Nordic Village

Flagstaff Area

For snowshoeing, snow-bike riding and cross-country skiing adventures, Arizona Nordic Village in Flagstaff offers 25 miles of multi-use trails, as well as ski rentals and lessons if you’re new to the sport. The Nordic Village allows guests to stay overnight in yurts and cabins in both frontcountry and backcountry settings. It’s a choose-your-own adventure style, with yurts or cabins either being 100 feet from the parking lot, or one to three miles from the parking lot!  
For more information:

Family Fun Awaits at Sunrise Park Resort


Sunrise Park Resort in the White Mountains near Greer is a spectacular place for skiing, snowboarding and family snow activities. There are also opportunities for ski biking, a great snow tubing hill, cross-country skiing and they even offer lessons for all ages. The more adventurous can take advantage of a rare opportunity to ski or snowboard under the stars with night riding available from Dec. 26 through Dec. 31. Those who are there on New Year’s Eve even get fireworks!
For more information:

Saguaro National Park

Marvel at Snowy Saguaros


Heading over to Saguaro National Park right after a winter storm has rolled through Southern Arizona can reveal a unique desert experience – Arizona’s iconic saguaro cactuses capped with snow! It’s rare, but it’s worth the opportunity. Be sure to follow the park’s social media channels for the best chance to catch this phenomenon.
For more information: Follow saguaronationalpark.

Experience a Turn-of-the-Century Christmas at Riordan Mansion State Historic Park


The Riordan Mansion in Flagstaff is decorated for the holidays in turn-of-the-century style with wreaths, garlands, greenery and a towering fir tree trimmed with old-fashioned ornaments. Arizona State Parks & Trails Guided rangers offer guided tours that include glimpses of folklore and traditions of Christmas past and present.
For more information:

Follow the Path Less Traveled at Grand Canyon National Park

Tusayan Area

As colder temperatures, shorter days and snow bring a slower pace to one of the nation’s most-visited parks, savvy visitors can use that for a unique Arizona winter experience at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Dramatic storms bring several inches of snow to contrast with sunny days, creating a perfect scenario to walk along the rim. Crisp air and a dusting of snow bring a new perspective to the temples and buttes emerging from the canyon floor. Guests should be prepared for snow and ice, and remember that only the South Rim is open during the winter.
For more information:

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