As a resident of the Valley of the Sun, accustomed to the daily rays shining through the blue winter skies, a trip to play in the powder-capped White Mountains seemed invigorating.
Traveling Through the Mogollon Rim to Payson, Arizona
Friday night, we headed to Payson, our weekend base camp. As we pulled into town, a winter wonderland appeared to have already found us. Cozied up inside, we spent the night surrounded by the snow-covered pine trees along the Mogollon Rim. Waking up bright and early to head further north to the slopes, I admired a surprise dedication written in the snow written by my extremely thoughtful boyfriend. He had gotten up even earlier to present my name into the cold, white ground, which was for me to find. How unfortunate that he was too cold and tired to complete the intended message including his name…
It was just a two-hour journey to the ski slopes, and as we approached Sunrise Ski Resort we whizzed by at least a dozen cars parked along the shoulder. Spilling from their car doors, eager snow-goers stopped to rush into the freshly fallen powder, many racing to throw their very first snowball.
Skiing in at the Sunrise Park Resort
For many Phoenicians with dreams of wintery weekend wonderlands, this would have been enough. But my fantasy had not yet come to fruition. Thousands of snowflakes grazed our rooftop before passing the turn-off for Snowflake, AZ, and thousands more fell before finally pulling into Sunrise Park Resort. We geared-up to glide down from the top of the mountain, and watched as our legs dangled over the skiers below.
We awed at the layers upon layers of the whitest evergreen branches on what felt like the longest chair-lift ever. We paused for our own picture, and after strapping boots into bindings, the fantasy of coasting through alpine-lined trails across the mountainside was finally a reality.
Fellow snow enthusiasts are encouraged not to forget about the lesser-known, but nonetheless magnificent ski resorts Arizona offers during the winter months. While my adventure brought me to Sunrise, I’d urge visitors to consider Flagstaff’s Snowbowl, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley near Tucson, and Elk Ridge Ski Area near Williams.
Grand Canyon State resident for 10 years, Kara Woroniec loves to travel. She is a resident of Scottsdale, and enjoys visiting Northern Arizona to snowboard with friends and family.