Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid singing the Jingle Bells song. Just when I thought that my dream would never be realized in Arizona, Windmill Ranch south of Flagstaff on I-17 at Exit 328 started offering exhilarating sleigh rides through the snow – in a two-horse drawn sleigh (sigh!) You’ll be transported – laughing all the way – to a hidden campsite in the Coconino National Forest for hot cocoa around a toasty campfire. And then you’ll be jingled o’er the fields back to the rustic ranch.
Your spirits will be made bright when Arizona Nordic Village (formerly Flagstaff Nordic Center) makes snowshoeing easy peasy. You can rent snowshoes and explore miles of groomed trails that meander through the Ponderosa pines. If cross-country skiing is something you’ve always wanted to take a crack at, then rent skis, boots and poles at the Arizona Nordic Village or Mormon Lake Lodge. Enjoy the pristine backcountry on groomed, snowy tracks that make memories and fabulous selfie ops.
Speaking of memory-making, I can’t wait to try out the new sledding and tubing area at Flagstaff Snow Park located near the Pulliam Airport I-17 exit. The 15-acre area includes several sledding hills, a general snowplay area, a kiddie snow zone, food trucks and the all-so-essential fire ring. Wing Mountain Snow Play Area is another playful option and located just three miles northwest of the Snowbowl Road junction on Highway 180. Be forewarned, only soft snow-play items are allowed; no wood, metal, or fiberglass sleds or snowboards are permitted.
While I am at the cautionary stage of this blog post, please be reminded that stopping or parking on I-17 is prohibited and totally unsafe. With more than a dozen places that offer fun and safe winterplay opportunities in Flagstaff, there is absolutely NO need to stop your vehicle on the freeway and no need to let your family play in the snow along I-17.
On a happier note, did you know that Arizona Governor Ducey designated Flagstaff as Arizona’s Winter Wonderland? Flagstaff gets an average of 100 inches of snow every year in this snowy playground that keeps Arizona Snowbowl hopping. Located on the awesome San Francisco Peaks, the downhill ski resort gets over 260 inches of the fluffy stuff at its elevation of 9,500 feet above sea level. Whether you’re an expert, Black-Diamond skier or boarder, or you’re new at the sport, Arizona Snowbowl has something for you: 40 runs, rental equipment, knowledgeable instructors or happening sundecks.
But if you’re not a high-adrenaline sort of person, Flagstaff offers plenty of other winterplay opportunities that are calling your name. Make a snowman at any of the city’s parks including Foxglenn Park, Buffalo Park, and Thorpe Park, or strap on skates at Jay Lively Activity Center and ice rink.
Lastly, dress warmly in layers. Really, you’ll enjoy dashing through the snow so much more if you’re wearing protective or water repellant clothes designed for winter activities including a helmet, protective eye wear, warm pants, sweaters or sweatshirts, heavy socks, gloves, and boots that grip the ice and snow. This Flagstaff snow bunny is saying, “Apply your sunscreen, drink your water and put on those cool shades.”
Check road conditions by dialing 511 in Arizona or check online at http://az511.com or azdot.gov/knowsnow.
Check out these other winterplay safety tips or call the Flagstaff Winter Snowplay hotline at 1-844-256-SNOW.
Download Flagstaff snowplay maps here or visit Flagstaffarizona.org.
Tags: arizona, Arizona Nordic Village, Arizona Snowbowl, Coconino County, Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff, Jay Lively Activity Center, Mormon Lake Lodge, San Francisco Peaks, Snowplay, Windmill Ranch, Wing Mountain Snow Play Area, Winter