In Arizona, outdoor adventure comes in many forms—and the fun can be found far beyond the Seventh Wonder of the World. The best part? You don’t need to be an uber-athlete, adrenaline junkie, or trust fund baby to partake. All you need is a healthy curiosity and a great guide. For the latter, we have you covered.
Mere hours away from Arizona’s major metropolitan areas you’ll find the state’s two biggest ski areas. Both offer a variety of terrain to suit beginner to expert skiers and snowboarders, as well as offering lessons, gear rentals, dining and drinking options, and more. Arizona’s ski season runs from mid-November through the end of April.
Just 14 miles northwest of Flagstaff in the San Francisco Peaks is Arizona Snowbowl, which boasts more than 777 skiable acres. Of the 55 runs, 22% are for beginners, 43% are intermediate, 22% are advanced, and 13% are expert runs. The longest skiable run is two miles.
In addition to lifts and runs, Snowbowl offers three terrain parks for freestylers looking to practice their skills, a roll-up rail garden with small and medium rails, and Sunset Terrain Park for expert riding and freestyle skiing.
Located in the northeast corner of the state, Sunrise Park Resort offers over 1,200 skiable acres with 65 trails and six lifts on three mountains. Of the terrain, 45% of runs are for beginners, 28% are intermediate, and 27% are advanced runs. Sunrise offers terrain parks with rails and jumps as well as ski and snowboard gear rentals and lessons.
So, clearly, if skiing is your thing, Arizona has you covered. But if you’re more about rising above it all, we have you covered there as well. Climbers take note: Arizona offers an adventure at breathtaking heights.
Rising nearly 7,000 feet above Tucson is Mt. Lemmon, part of the Catalina Mountain Range. This majestic beauty can be snowcapped in the winter while far below, Arizona’s stately saguaro cacti bask in the southwest sun. Climbers will appreciate Mt. Lemmon for its status as a “sky island,” an isolated mountain that rises out of the desert rather than the forest.
Mt. Lemmon offers some of the best climbing in Arizona with more than 2,500 climbing routes, making it one of the most popular and densely developed climbing areas in the state. With crags located at elevations ranging from 2,500 to 9,000 feet, it offers something for everyone with comfortable climbing temps year-round.
If climbing area names like Boneyard, Hooligan’s Hollow, and Prison Camp are any indication, adventurers are in for a great time.
Okay, so let’s say you don’t want to hang upside down from an inverted rock. Can’t blame you there. Arizona has plenty of boots-on-the-ground hiking adventures and one of the shining stars is located in southeast Arizona: the Chiricahua Mountains. This is truly a hiker’s paradise, where seldom-trodden trails climb through five undisturbed life zones, from the grassy scrublands of the desert up through the rarefied air of mountains thick with Douglas fir. Here, you can take your time discovering native wildlife, birds on migratory paths, and native history thick with frontier heritage.
And right in the heart of it all is the “Wonderland of Rocks,” the Chiricahua National Monument, known for its towering vertical columns of rock formations. Here, you can hike on 17 miles of trails, camp at Bonita Canyon Campground, or visit the Faraway Ranch—a two-room cabin built in 1886.
In Arizona, you can “saddle up” in any number of ways and one of the best ones is atop a mountain bike. If you are a two-wheeled enthusiast, head over to Lake Havasu City’s SARA Park, with its abundance of rocky terrain and miles of trails to ride, slide, climb, and jump through. This 1,100-acre regional park offers spectacular mountain views, rides for every ability level, and access to beautiful Lake Havasu. And because you likely won’t travel with your mountain bike, the area has many convenient bike rental facilities.
The best memories have spectacular backdrops. That’s what you’ll find in Unexpected Arizona.