The quintessential American road trip has to be the scenic byways of ol’ Route 66. I have road tripped throughout the state of Arizona, but one place I’ve not explored in a long time is Flagstaff. I thought it would be fun to head to the highest city along Historic Route 66 and discover the top winter activities.
Many people think of Arizona as a desert landscape, but the state is actually quite diverse. Flagstaff has an elevation of 7000’, which makes this mountain town a great reprieve for desert dwellers in the summer, and a winter wonderland for snow enthusiasts.
I spent five fun-filled days driving from one end of town to the other in search of the most popular and exciting winter activities in Flagstaff. Be sure to watch the video below as I run down the following list:
1) Snow may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of Arizona, but Arizona Snowbowl accumulates an average of 260 inches each winter. While the area receives a lot of snow, the sun is never far away. Skiing and snowboarding are likely the most popular winter activities in Flagstaff, and with a new quad-chairlift, snow making equipment and many new runs, the Arizona Snowbowl is more exciting than ever.
2) My next activity was just southwest of town at the Mormon Lake Lodge, where I went on a snowmobiling adventure. There are miles of pristine back-country trails to explore on either a one or two hour tour. There are a number of other activities at the Mormon Lake Lodge, so you may want to stay the overnight in one of the cozy cabins.
3) Kids and adults alike will have a blast sledding at the Wing Mountain Snow Play area. There are several hills with different heights and elevations you can choose depending on prowess and nerve. I learned that the cheaply made sleds available at the nearby gas station or at the Play Area, have a tendency to break if you catch some air and hit a bunny hill on the way down. Tubes seem to provide the biggest adrenalin rush as they have less friction and really move down the hill.
4) Just down the road of the Snow Play sledding area is the Nordic Center, where they have a number of activities for the snow bound enthusiast. From nordic or cross-country skiing, to exploring through the forest on snowshoes, they also have the newest trend in mountain biking, the fat-tire variety for riding in the snow…so much fun! The facility also offers several cabins and yurts for overnight camping, each with a real wood-burning fireplace.
5) Right in town, perched on a hill overlooking Flagstaff, is the Lowell Observatory, well-known for discovering Pluto. This celestial venue has a museum, artifacts, and of course many telescopes for discovery and star-gazing. Interesting to note that Flagstaff was the world’s first international dark-sky city.
6) My next stop was a special activity for families and those looking for a creative and romantic gesture…a horse-drawn sleigh ride. At the Hitchin’ Post Stables you can take a horse-drawn sleigh ride (actually wheels) out to their campsite an up into the nearby hills for some hot cocoa and a warm bonfire. The authentic looking western camp has a number of covered wagons, artifacts and some tents set up for a dinner service.
7) There is a bevy of craft beer in Flagstaff with many award-winning breweries in town. As a matter of fact, there’s a Flagstaff Ale Trail, which is a self-guided beer tasting adventure.
8) Over at the Jay Lively Ice Arena, nothing says winter more than donning a pair of blades and gliding across the icy smooth surface. While not all of us can look like a figure skater, it’s still a whole lot of fun. The arena has a number of programs; you can drop in for open skating, private lessons or even ice hockey.
9) At the Little America Hotel during the holiday season, the property is decorated with millions of lights creating a stunning display. The hotel is situated on 500 pine-covered acres with a great view of the San Francisco Peaks. In addition to all of the holiday lights, visitors will see many other holiday exhibits, such as Santa flying through the trees in his reindeer sleigh.
10) Little America also serves as the trolley stop for the North Pole Experience. Visitors are transported from Flagstaff to the North Pole through a magic portal. Once at the North Pole, Santa’s guests can walk through the workshop where all the gifts are made, packaged and readied for the massive delivery around the world. This is such a fantastic experience for the kids, and adults with kids.
That’s a look at the top-10 winter activities in Flagstaff, Arizona. If you have some other favorites that didn’t make the list, please post a comment below and share with other readers. Click the following link to see more of my pictures of Flagstaff.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a couple of great places to eat in Flagstaff, I highly recommend BRIX for fine-dining, Pizzicletta for some wood-fired pizza, and MartAnne’s on Historic Route 66 for breakfast.