Experience high country holidays and the wonders of winter


With an average of 100 plus inches of snowfall each year, Flagstaff is Arizona’s premier winter wonderland. This is the time to celebrate the holidays high country style or plan a weekend of snowplay on the slopes.

Winter in Flagstaff

Designated as Arizona’s winter wonderland, Flagstaff attracts visitors from all over to our snowy playground. Accumulating an average of 100 inches of snow annually in downtown, the surrounding ponderosa forests are blanketed with even more, welcoming winter enthusiasts to partake in a multitude of winter activities, such as skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and snowbiking.

Experience winter to its fullest:

• Grab your skis or snowboard and head up to Arizona Snowbowl for a day on the slopes.

• Visit the Arizona Nordic Village to experience cross country skiing and snowshoeing on the 25 miles of groomed trails. Or grab the sled and to have a fun day playing in the snow.

• Head indoors for some ice skating fun at the Jay Lively Activity Center or catch an NAU hockey game for an exciting family night.

• Take a trip to Mormon Lake lodge and hop on a snowmobile for a guided tour through the winter wonderland of the Coconino National Forest.

• Experience the variety of shopping, dining, and nightlife during a winter evening in the Historic Downtown Flagstaff.

• For a fun time check out the Flagstaff Snow Park for a winter experience complete with snow tubing, hot coco and outdoor fire pits.

9 ways to Winter Play

A zealous and fresh approach to the New Year always seems to be at the top of “must do” lists for most people in January. Escape and invigorate at 7,000 feet altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona. From the Great Pinecone Drop countdown to snowplay in Arizona’s official Winter Wonderland or a hike to get started on those resolutions, Flagstaff has the weather, the attractions, and many activities to say farewell to 2018 and welcome 2019. Get started with nine ways of winter play to start your New Year Flagstaff-style:

1. The Great Pinecone Drop became Flagstaff’s New Year’s Eve tradition in 1999 when the Weatherford Hotel rang in the new millennium and honored the Hotel’s 100-year anniversary. Since then, thousands gather in the streets for the countdown into the New Year and the lowering of the Pinecone followed by a brief firework display. Join the festive street party atmosphere at the corner of Aspen Avenue and Leroux Street in downtown Flagstaff at either 10 p.m. or 12 a.m. To elevate the Pinecone Drop experience tickets are available from the Weatherford Hotel for their New Year’s Eve Gala in the Zane Grey Ballroom and Bar with access to the balcony during the countdown.

2. Not able to have a white Christmas? Then come for a white New Year’s Day and start the year on the slopes with a day of snowplay or skiing in Flagstaff. For the most up-to-date information on conditions at Flagstaff area winter recreation sites call the snowplay information hotline at 1-844-256-SNOW and find directions and alternate routes to the sites on the free Winter Recreation Map which also can be found at the Flagstaff Visitor Center.

3. Get started on those New Year’s fitness resolutions and take your first hike of the New Year at one of the Flagstaff Area National Monuments. The Island Trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument offers a strenuous one mile hike with more than 200 stairs descending 185 vertical feet into the canyon or for a more leisurely option try the one mile Lava Flow Trail loop at Sunset Crater National Monument.

4. Enjoy Flagstaff at 7,000’ with 9 award-winning breweries and a beer tasting adventure to discover locally-brewed craft beer and delicious food in Arizona’s Craft Beer City. Flagstaff breweries have received national recognition from the World Beer Championships and the Great American Beer Festival. Visit to download a free Flagstaff Brewery Trail Passport and start your journey. Cheers!

5. Get adventurous with New Year’s Eve lodging and slumber in a yurt at the Arizona Nordic Village. This requires preparation and necessitates packing things from home including a sleeping bag. For those looking for more traditional hotel accommodations, Flagstaff is home to more than 5,000 hotel rooms for any style or budget.

6. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day then be sure to start the New Year with a hearty breakfast in Flagstaff at a local favorite including: Martanne’s Burrito Palace, Tourist Home All Day Café, Macy’s European Coffeehouse, La Bellavia, Brandy’s Restaurant, Mike and Ronda’s The Place or Northern Pines Restaurant.

7. Check it off your bucket list with a Grand Canyon sunrise and sunset to create a memory at Grand Canyon National Park, which is only 80 miles from Flagstaff. The Grand Canyon is often described as Earth’s greatest geological showcase, the breathtaking ensemble of colorful rock layers, impressive buttes and shadowed side canyons sets Grand Canyon apart.

8. Go stargazing in Flagstaff’s spectacular dark skies at Lowell Observatory for heavenly inspiration. Visit the instrument that helped Clyde Tombaugh discover Pluto, and peer through telescopes set up daily and nightly. Tour the observatory and experience the universe through multimedia shows, interactive exhibits and live presentations.

9. Grab your skis or snowboard and hit the slopes on New Year’s Day at the Arizona Snowbowl! Enjoy world class skiing at the top of Arizona. Arizona Snowbowl offers lessons and rental packages for individuals, kids and families for all levels. The Grand Canyon Express, Arizona’s first high-speed six person chairlift, opened in 2016-2017 and whisks riders up a 1,500 foot vertical in less than six minutes. The name of the lift is a nod to the fact that Arizona Snowbowl is the only ski area in the United States where riders can see the Grand Canyon in the distance from the chairlift. The addition of a new slopeside restaurant in 2018 doubled the dining capacity at the base area with 300 indoor seats, complete with a patio and a fire pit which is perfect for après ski. There is also a “beach area,” complete with Adirondack chairs and fire pits adjacent to Hart Prairie Lodge to take a break from skiing, have a drink, and take in the views.

Winter Festivities

*Please visit event websites for date, time and location

The Great Pinecone Drop

The historic Weatherford Hotel settled in the heart of downtown Flagstaff will be presenting a New Year’s Eve Tradition, the dropping of a six-foot tall Pine Cone. The Pine Cone will be displayed at an elevated three stories as a giant holiday ornament for the entire city to admire until the New Year. On December 31, there will be two lowerings of the Pine Cone, the first one beginning at 10 p.m., followed by the second one at midnight. Help countdown into a New Year!

The Polar Express

Based on the adventures of the classic children’s book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, the Grand Canyon Railway is taking you on a journey to the “North Pole!” Departing from Williams, this enchanting train will arrive at the “North Pole,” where Santa Claus and his reindeer will merrily be waiting to hand out presents. Hot chocolate and cookies will be provided by Santa’s chefs during the train ride. Those interested are encouraged to call early to make reservations. Departure times: 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 pm 

North Pole Experience

The North Pole Experience is an incredible opportunity for families to visit Santa in the “North Pole” during the Christmas season. When visiting Santa’s Workshop, families will be able to participate in a multitude of activities, such as building toys with the elves, touring the toy factory and meeting Santa for photos. Trips to Santa’s Workshop will depart via trolley from the Little America Hotel situated in Flagstaff’s ponderosa pine forest. Lodging accommodations can also be made through Little America Hotel. Tickets are expected to sell out early, so early reservations are encouraged. Departures: Day trips 8:00 a.m.-3:50 p.m. Evening trips 4-8:50 p.m. *Please visit website for specific dates of tours.

Holiday Tours at Riordan Mansion

The Mansion is festively decorated in turn-of-the-century style with wreaths, garlands, greenery and a towering fir tree trimmed with old-fashioned ornaments. Guided tours through Riordan Mansion State Historic Park include glimpses of folklore and traditions of Christmas, both past and present.

Holiday Champagne Brunch

928-779 7900
The Little America Hotel hosts its traditional Holiday Champagne Brunch with an array of tantalizing options including hand-carved meats, seafood, omelets, waffles crepes and chocolate fondue. 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

  • Thanksgiving Brunch, Thursday, Nov 22nd, from 10 a.m. – 3.p.m.
  • Christmas Brunch, Tuesday, December 25th, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Holiday Events Downtown


    • The Flagstaff Downtown Business Alliance (FDBA) sponsors free family holiday events for visitors and the community to enjoy historic downtown Flagstaff. Plan to visit Saturdays for the winter movie series at the Orpheum featuring Elf, Home Alone, Polar Express and the Grinch. A popular event is Breakfast with Santa and purchase early because tickets are expected to sell out. There is also the Winter Wonderland Tree Lighting, downtown Luminaria Stroll and the first annual Noon Year’s Eve event in Heritage Square.