phoenix Archives - Urban Outdoors
Tag

phoenix

Browsing

Phoenix is notorious for its hot weather, and there’s nothing worse than baking in the sun all day slipping off some sandy desert rock climb. Obviously, the best solution is to head indoors. Regardless of what level you’re climbing at, or if you’ve never climbed at all, this comprehensive list of rock climbing gyms in Phoenix, Arizona will have you scaling the walls in no time.

The Phoenix Arizona is surrounded by climbing, but the heat and be too much. So escape to an indoor climbing gym and crush with the Phoenix community.
Escape the desert, head to your local climbing gym and throw shapes on plastic holds. These climbing gyms in Phoenix will have you sending in no time.

Rock On With This List Of The Best Rock Climbing Gyms In Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix Rock Gym

  • Location: 1353 E. University Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Lead Climbing

No worries for new climbers, there are plenty of learning opportunities at Phoenix Rock Gym that’ll get you sending on their 56 top ropes and hanging around the gym in no time. Plus, two floors of bouldering provide enough blocks for pure bouldering sessions. However, if being high up is all you’ve been thinking about, not to worry! The roped walls are 30ft tall and there are plenty of them, with 17,000 sq. ft. of climbing wall to scale. If you fancy climbing in Phoenix this gym won’t disappoint!

Black Rock Bouldering Gym with slabs and overhangs so anyone can rock climb
Black Rock Bouldering Gym’s various angles

Black Rock Bouldering Gym

  • Location: 10436 N 32nd St, AZ 85028
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering

Black Rock Bouldering Gym features the more modern, 15 foot tall, no ropes approach to climbing. With plenty of new-school blocks to choose from this climbing gym offers some of the best routes in Phoenix. Plus, there are regular yoga classes that’ll keep you limber for those big moves, and climbing classes for those looking to bump their grade to the next level. About more than just climbing, this gym will get you fit and flexible in no time.

Focus Climbing Centre

  • Location: 2150 W Broadway Road Suite 103, Mesa, AZ, 85202
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Autobelay, Lead Climbing

Focus Climbing Centre is a super diverse range of climbing from slabs to caves, this gym features everything you need to become a crusher on the Phoenix scene. All the taller walls feature autobelays, so you can forget about your flaky belayer and rock up whenever you want to. However, you’ll still be able to lead as the walls do feature quickdraws. Lessons for all ages are available to help you progress and find your groove. Plus all their matting is seamless lowering the potential for sprained ankles.

Climbmax Gym

  • Location: 1330 W. Auto Drive, Suite 108, Tempe, AZ 85284
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Lead Climbing, Weight room

All types of climbing are on offer at the Climbmax Gym. Featuring 2 floors of bouldering that get reset weekly, 150 top rope routes, 45 lead climbing routes, and dedicated training areas. Their Climbing 101 class will get anyone new comfortable with the ropes, while their Lead Climbing classes teach you not just how to climb but also how to belay with a variety of devices. Additionally, the gym has a gear shop, so you can pick up what you need for your next climbing adventure in Phoenix.

Ape Index Rock Climbing Gym

  • Location: 9700 N 91st Ave, Peoria, AZ 85345
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Lead Climbing

If you like to top rope Ape Index Rock Climbing Gym in Phoenix is for you. With belay devices on the hanging ropes all you need are shoes and your harness. But, if you’re new that’s no bother, rental equipment and lessons are readily available. Plus there are training and bouldering areas for getting stronger and climbing through the grades. Their climbing tunnel can get you feeling confident on those roof climbs with safe falls the whole way up. Further, if you’re looking to get climbing outside for the first time their private lessons can give you the skills you need to be safe.

AZ On The Rocks

  • Location: 16447 N. 91st Street, Suite 105, Scottsdale, AZ 85260
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing

Whether you’re a rock novice or a stone master AZ On The Rocks has got everything you want. Not just all the climbing you could imagine, but all the extras that climbers love: Slacklines, ninja courses, rappelling, and yoga. This climbing gym also has full gear rentals including ropes which I will say can be difficult to find in a gym. Their shop will keep you stocked on gear and mid climbing session snacks — An essential part of the send.

Additional Resources for Climbing in Phoenix

What to Bring

Everyone’s checklist

  • Clothes – There’s no best outfit for climbing and figuring out what to wear is always a little tricky when you’re just starting. Shorts or trousers? Honestly, just dress for the temperature and any sportswear will do. Although protecting your knees is often a good idea, and going from climbing to casual without changing in a good pair of trousers can save you space in your gym bag. Honestly as long as it’s stretchy you’ll be fine, but if you can get a pair with a diamond gusset like Hippy Tree’s Sierra Pants or Patagonia’s Venga Rock Pants, you won’t regret it. Shorts wise, anything baggy or stretchy would also be fine, but I have noticed the cool kids do like to wear Prana’s Mojo Shorts. IF IT IS YOUR FIRST TIME – BRING SOCKS (those rentals aren’t getting any newer)
  • Water – Any respectable athlete will tell you that staying hydrated is really important, and any climber will tell you there are 3 options for bottles, all of which you must plaster in stickers. They are: The old reliable BPA free Nalgene, the elite Hydroflask, and finally the eco friendly Klean Kanteen.
  • Snacks – There is quite frankly nothing better than a little nibble when you’ve been trying hard, but a full meal will probably derail your journey on the send train. Personally, I always carry some sort of cereal bar to keep me going mid session such as Cliff Bars or RXBARs.
  • Tape – I’m talking good sticky zinc tape. Offered by a host of climbing brands and easily bought at your local gym, tape is used to save some skin or seal up that flapper. Metolius makes my favorite, but there’s plenty of options out there.
  • Hand Balm – There’s plenty on the market, but I’ve had the same nub of climb on for a couple of years and it’s doing me good. Although, I did recently get a tub of Joshua Tree and that stuff really works.
  • Nail clippers – Now this is super underrated and honestly the last thing you want is to be the one making horrible scratching noises every time you crimp. Additionally, long toenails can make squeezing your feet into already tight climbing shoes all the more painful, so be sure to pick up a pair and throw them in your bag.

Established climbers checklist

  • Climbing Shoes – The staple of all climbing, a great selection can be found online here. Picking the right shoe can be really tricky, but look out for our future advice article.
  • Chalk Bag – Sweaty hands are the bane of a climbers existence. We carry chalk to quickly deal with those sweaty tips and up the friction. Chalk comes in balls, loose, bricks, or liquid, whilst the bags come in all shapes and sizes. Boulderers might prefer ‘buckets‘ to avoid losing your chalk in a tumble.
  • Harness – These are much of the same, but some are particularly light to help you hit the higher grades, though they often end up losing a couple of features. Some of the best do-all harnesses include Petzl Adjama, Black Diamond Momentum, and Mammut Sender Fast Adjust which feature enough gear loops for getting into more complex climbing, as well as adjustable leg loops for when you need to layer up.
  • Belay Plate – There are really only 3 factors to consider when choosing one of these; what you learnt to use, where you want to take your climbing, and the cost. Standard ATC, Guide ATCs and Assisted Braking Devices all work, but it’s really all down to personal choice. The flexibility of guide plates make them a favorite amongst those looking transfer their knowledge outdoors, while assisted devices can feel more secure to beginners.
  • Brush – You only need a small personal brush for when the chalk has built up and make the holds smooth, a lot of gyms do provide them so you don’t need one. Saying that, why not accessorize your chalk bag with a colorful brush like these Lapis Boar hair brushes!
  • Rope – When you get to leading you’ll probably want your own rope, but if you’re climbing indoors avoid making the ‘I need a light skinny rope to send’ mistake. You’re going to be running loads of laps, so get a good thick dynamic rope like this 9.9mm aptly named Workhorse rope from Mammut or even a fat 10.2mm from Black Diamond that’ll stand up to heavy gym abuse. Also, since you’ll be indoors you can skip any dry treatments that push the price upwards.
  • Backpack – You’ll need a gym bag of sorts to help you lug all this around, and how big you go is totally up to you and what you’re going to be carrying. If you’re just hitting up the bouldering gym, or don’t mind wondering around with the rope on show, then a good 15-20L bag like the AR 20 from Arc’teryx is ideal. Plus it’ll suit all your future fast and light days. Going up to 20-35L, will let you start packing those extra layers and maybe get the rope inside your bag too. At this size Patagonia’s Crag Smith is full of features and makes a great all round day pack!

Post send and extras

  • Belay Gloves – By no means do you need belay gloves, but some people like to keep their hands a little safer just in case (some people do let go if the rope starts to burn their hands). The trick to these gloves is leather palms to achieve the right friction. Outdoor research make a great set called the Fossil Rock Gloves, and they’re fingerless for both breathability and style points.
  • Crack Climbing Gloves – If you’ve been inspired by the Wide Boyz, but are tired of ripping tape off the back of your hands then a pair of the new Black Diamond Crack Gloves or Outdoor Research’s Splitter Gloves could be for you.
  • Skin File – If your calluses are getting a bit dry and you’re starting to get the equivalent of a hangnail in the middle of your finger, this is a sure fire way to end up with one big flapper. You can file it down with one of Climbskin’s portable solutions and avoid that week of taping up an avoidable mistake.
  • Shoe deodorant – Climbing shoes get notoriously smelly, lucky I’ve got 2 great solutions for you – Boot Bananas and Disinfectant spray, I genuinely use these and they work a treat and when I run out the shoes stay out my bag.
  • Acupressure Ring – Who knows if these work or not, but I’ve been using one religiously on a pulley injury and I think it’s helped a lot. They’re pretty cheap, so why not?
  • Long Term Antiperspirant Treatments – Good skin care is important to keep you in top climbing shape. Rhino Skin Solutions are a great brand, endorsed and used by all the big names in climbing, with the big benefit of reducing sweating. I mean the less time you’re hanging around chalking up, the more energy you’ll have to send. The job lot Skin Abuse Pack and their Tip Juice might help you push your grades sooner.

Related Articles

Whether you’re local to the Phoenix area or are visiting to escape the winter and enjoy beautiful weather, there are TONS of outdoor activities waiting for you. One of our favorite things to do is to go hiking in Phoenix, on one of the many stunning trails that call the city home. Many trails offer jaw-dropping views of Arizona’s signature rock formations, the famous saguaro cacti, and the surrounding mountains nearby. If you’re looking for the best hikes in Phoenix, our detailed guide to nearby trails has you covered!

Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite hiker? Here’s a comprehensive list of our
35 favorite (practical) gifts for hikers, updated for 2020!

Easy Hikes in Phoenix

Lost Dog Wash Trail

  • Trail Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Location: McDowell Sonoran Preserve

One of the most beautiful, easy hikes in Phoenix is the Lost Dog Wash Trail, which brings hikers around a loop full of wildflowers, cacti, and mountain views in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The trail is fairly flat and easy, but provides stunning vistas of the desert area, especially at sunrise or sunset. It’s also dog friendly for those wanting to enjoy an adventure with their fur babies! Visitors love that the trail feels fairly removed from the city, despite being just minutes away. They also mention that the trails here are quite rocky, so watch your step.

Photo Credit: Take a Hike Arizona (Flickr CC)

Granite Mountain Loop Trail

  • Trail Distance: 5.1 miles
  • Location: McDowell Sonoran Preserve

If you’re looking for a trail for hiking in Phoenix that has it all, head over to Granite Mountain Loop in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. In this diverse area, there are trails that lead you to stunning rock formations, fascinating desert plants, and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and mountains. Suitable for all levels of hikers, the Granite Mountain Loop boasts well-maintained trails with little fluctuation in elevation. While this is an easy hike, it is over 5 miles, so it’s best to make sure you carve out half a day or so and avoid the direct sunlight of the mid-afternoon.

Photo Credit: Midnight Believer (Flickr CC)

Double Butte Loop at Papago Park

  • Trail Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Location: Papago Park

For views of the Sonoran Desert’s famous rock formations, there are few better places to go hiking in Phoenix than at Papago Park. The Double Butte Loop is an easy, accessible, and well-maintained trail that brings you right up to these beautiful natural landmarks. While it’s not as far removed as some of the preserve hikes, Papago Park is pretty easy to get to and is very scenic despite its urban location. Don’t miss the famous Hole-in-the-Rock view that the park is known for!

Photo Credit: Kevin (Flickr CC)

Treasure Loop Trail

  • Trail Distance: 2.3 miles
  • Location: Lost Dutchman State Park

In our opinion, Treasure Loop Trail is one of the most scenic hikes in Phoenix on our list. Locals agree, as this park area tends to get very crowded on weekends and holidays! Located in Lost Dutchman State Park, the trail offers spectacular views of the Superstition Mountains and its beautiful rock formations, as well as an accessible adventure for hikers of all levels. We’d recommend getting here as early as possible to see the rocks illuminated in the early morning sunlight.

Pinnacle Peak in the morning hours

Moderate Hiking Trails in Phoenix

Pinnacle Peak

  • Trail Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Location: Pinnacle Peak Park

As one of the most popular hikes in Phoenix, Pinnacle Peak is technically not actually a summit hike, but rather a hike alongside the stark rock formation you see upon arrival at the trail head. Regardless, it offers studding views of nearby boulders and rock formations, as well as Scottsdale’s golf courses and nature areas spread out below. While most of the trail is accessible to beginners, there are parts toward the end that are quite steep, so proceed with caution!

Holbert Trail

  • Trail Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Location: South Mountain Preserve

For a fun challenge rewarded with stunning views, look no further than the Holbert Trail. Located in South Mountain Preserve, this spot for hiking near Phoenix isn’t far from the city center, and is therefore a fairly popular local trail. If you start the hike early, you may have the trails to yourself! Along the way, you’ll find historic ruins, amazing rock formations, and sunrise/sunset views that will truly take your breath away.

Photo Credit: Take A Hike Arizona

Tom’s Thumb

  • Trail Distance: 4 miles
  • Location: McDowell Sonoran Preserve

As one of the most beloved hikes in Phoenix, Toms Thumb takes hikers through the Sonoran Desert to a strange, thumb-shaped rock formation atop a mountain. From the top, you can catch views of the Phoenix skyline, as well as glimpses of the McDowell Mountains and the surrounding rock formations. The trails here are catered to all levels of hikers, and are well marked to provide guidance up to the top. If you’re planning to tackle this hike, be sure to bring lots of water and start early to avoid the harsh mid-day sun and crowds.

Massacre Falls Trail

  • Trail Distance: 5.8 miles
  • Location: Lost Dutchman State Park

Bet you didn’t expect to find a waterfall trail in the middle of the desert, did you? Well, think again! The Massacre Falls Trail is a moderate hike through the Superstition Mountains that culminates in a cliffside waterfall. Despite its violent name, the area actually has lots of cool legends to it – this trail in particular is said to be the site of a massacre of gold miners in the mid-1800s by local indigenous people.

Not only will you feel the mystery and grandeur of this state park, but you’ll get lovely views of the Superstition Mountains’ rock formations. To maximize your chances of seeing a larger waterfall, try to hike this trail after a rainy day or in the springtime.

Photo Credit: Patrick Finnegan (Flickr CC)

Butcher Jones Trail

  • Trail Distance: 4.9 miles
  • Location: Tonto National Forest

There are few hikes near Phoenix that have vast waterfront views, and Butcher Jones Trail in Tonto National Forest is one of them! While the trail does have some beautiful rock formation and mountain views, the real spectacles here are the beautiful views of Saguaro Lake. The cool, blue water surrounded by towering rock formations creates the perfect blend of earth, water, and sky. Note that there’s a fee to enter Tonto National Forest, but for a manageable, beautiful hike that’s different than the others on this list, it’s absolutely worth the cost!

Wind Cave Trail

  • Trail Distance: 3.2 miles
  • Location: Usery Mountain Regional Park

For another short, manageable hike that has some challenging spots, check out the Wind Cave Trail. At just over 3 miles in length, the hike might not seem like much, but it’s got some pretty steep climbs toward the end that will give you a run for your money! Along the trail, you’ll pass by massive rock overhangs known as the wind cave, which feature stunning views of the Phoenix area and the surrounding rocky terrain.

Photo Credit: neepster (Flickr CC)

Peralta Canyon Trail to Fremont Saddle

  • Trail Distance: 5.8 miles
  • Location: Superstition Mountains

Shh, don’t tell anyone, but the Peralta Canyon Trail to Fremont Saddle is probably our favorite of all 17 hikes near Phoenix that we’ve listed here! Not only will you see some of the most beautiful parts of the Superstition Wilderness area – ahem, Weavers Needle (pictured above) – but you’ll also pass by fields of wildflowers and some of the park’s strange, eerie rock formations. The trail is long and steep enough to pose a fun challenge to all levels of hikers. Note that the road to the trail head is rock and gravel, so driving an SUV or 4WD is encouraged.

Photo Credit: Cobalt123 (Flickr CC)

Challenging & Strenuous Hikes in Phoenix

Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon

  • Trail Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Location: Echo Canyon Park

If you’re an experienced hiker and you only have time for one trail, Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon is the one we’d recommend. As one of the quintessential hikes in Phoenix, this short trail packs a punch in terms of rock scrambles, steep terrain, and gorgeous views for miles. The trail can get extremely busy, especially during the winter, so most locals recommend getting there at dawn and hiking with the rising sun. Be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots – the rocks and loose gravel here can be tricky to navigate without any tread!

Photo Credit: Bill in Arizona (Flickr CC)

Flatiron Summit via Siphon Draw

  • Trail Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Location: Lost Dutchman State Park

If you enjoy adventures that require a good scramble, the Flatiron Summit via Siphon Draw trail is one of the most fun and challenging hikes in Phoenix. While this 5.5 mile trail may not seem like much, the ascents are steep and rocky, with many sections that require you to use your hands and feet to climb the boulder-filled paths. From the summit, you’ll find jaw-dropping panoramic views of the desert and nearby rock formations.

Pro tip: Go as early as possible to avoid direct sunlight and crowds – this trail has very little shade in the mid-day hours!

Photo Credit: Trevor Huxham (Flickr CC)

Piestewa Peak

  • Trail Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Location: Phoenix Mountain Preserve

Piestewa Peak is one of the closest spots for hiking near Phoenix, and a great place for time-crunched hikers wanting a good challenge. As another short, sweet, and strenuous trail, the peak offers steep inclines, some scrambling, and a beautiful rocky outcropping at the top overlooking the city and its surrounds. Many locals call this trail a “stairmaster” because it’s got consistent, step-wise inclines great for working out your legs.

Photo Credit: Al_HikesAZ (Flickr CC)

Picketpost Mountain

  • Trail Distance: 3.9 miles
  • Location: Tonto National Forest

For scramble-happy adventurers, Picketpost Mountain is a fantastic hiking trail for you. This shorter trail has tons of steep scrambles to get to the top. We wouldn’t recommend this for first-time hikers or those who have never done rock scrambling before, but if you’re a seasoned hiking aficionado, you’ll definitely enjoy the challenging terrain that Picketpost Mountain has to offer. While dogs are allowed on the trail, we’d recommend leaving the pups at home for this one, since the terrain can be dangerous for them.

Skull Mesa Trail

  • Trail Distance: 12.3 miles
  • Location: Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

The Skull Mesa Trail is a fantastic, day-long hike for those wanting to spend more time outdoors. With a variety of terrain, you’ll cross creeks, wander through forests, and scramble up a rocky pass to the top of the summit. Definitely not a hike for the faint of heart! If you head out on this hike in the early morning, you may come across some local wildlife, like javelina, foxes, or quails. Additionally, there are extraordinary views from the top of the surrounding mountains.

Superstition Ridgeline Trail

  • Trail Distance: 10.7 miles
  • Location: Lost Dutchman State Park

Perhaps the hardest and most rewarding spot for hiking in Phoenix is the Superstition Ridgeline Trail, located in Lost Dutchman State Park. This absolutely breathtaking trail is a point-to-point adventure (meaning you’ll want to take two cars or organize transportation some other way beforehand). You’ll scramble, you’ll climb stairs, and you’ll escape the crowds of all of the more popular hikes on our list. However, experienced hikers who make it through will get some of the most unique, magical views of the Superstition Mountains along the way.

If you plan to take this hike, be sure to bring PLENTY of water and snacks, and block off the whole day. This is definitely a long adventure, but one worth taking if you are an experienced hiker ready for a blissful challenge.

Additional Resources for Hiking Near Phoenix

What to Bring

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

Related Articles

The Southwest is home to many gems for ski and snowboard enthusiasts, and even the heat of Phoenix doesn’t have to prevent you from enjoying the snow this winter. While Arizona isn’t a typical hotbed for winter sports, there are a surprising number of ski resorts near Phoenix that are accessible within a day’s drive. We’ve compiled the best places to go snowboarding and skiing near Phoenix so you can plan a perfect winter getaway and hit the slopes!

Best Places to Snowboard and Ski Near Phoenix

Arizona Nordic Village

  • Distance from Phoenix: 160 miles/3 hours (Flagstaff, AZ)
  • Ability Level: All levels
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Arizona Nordic Village is to drive. However, there is also a public bus that goes right into the Nordic Village, routes 2 and 3.

Originally known as the Flagstaff Nordic Center, the Arizona Nordic Village operates under a philosophy of increasing outdoor education. It also just so happens to be the closest area to go skiing near Phoenix. The Arizona Nordic Village offers skiing, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing for people of all levels. On the property, there are 19 trails with a mixture of difficulty ratings, and there are group and private lessons available for first timers.

Visitors to Arizona Nordic Village love the atmosphere here, citing it as a “hidden gem” in the Flagstaff area. There are also yurts and cabins for rent on-site, which is perfect for turning your ski trip into a fun weekend getaway.

Where to Stay near Arizona Nordic Village

Arizona Snowbowl

  • Distance from Phoenix: 158 miles/3 hours (Flagstaff, AZ)
  • Ability Level: All levels
  • How to Get There: If you are driving, Take the I-17 N for 144 miles to Flagstaff. Drive on S. Milton Rd. for 1.7 miles, and make a left turn onto N. Humphreys Street. Drive for another 0.7 miles and turn left onto Fort Valley Road. Drive for another 6.7 miles, and then make a right onto N. Snowbowl Road. Drive 6.6 miles until you reach the resort entrance. If not driving, there is a bus from Phoenix to Flagstaff (3 hr, $21), then a short drive to the actual mountain (7 miles).

Located 7 miles north of Flagstaff on the western slope of Mount Humphreys, the Arizona Snowbowl sits atop an ancient volcano within the San Francisco Peaks. The resort’s slogan is “where Arizona goes to ski,” and its 55 trails across all levels make this idea truly come to life. It’s true – the resort boasts the largest area of beginner terrain in Arizona, as well as the longest ski season. From the top of the slopes, you can even see out to the Grand Canyon!

On-site, the Ski Lift Lodge is the perfect spot to book a weekend getaway. Many visitors recommend the Aspen Loop run for skiers, and the Sunset Terrain Park as a fun option for advanced skiers. The whole area has a very “ski town” feel, making it an accessible change of scene from the heat of the Arizona desert.

Where to Stay near Arizona Snowbowl

On Site: There’s a hotel on-site – Ski Lift Lodge & Cabins – that offers comfortable accommodations at decent rates.

Nearby Hotels: For a variety of hotel options, you can opt to stay in nearby Flagstaff. There are several hotels, ranging from large resorts and major chain hotels to locally-owned B&Bs and guesthouses.

Cabin Rentals: There are tons of beautiful cabins for rent in Flagstaff that are great for couples or groups. Below are a few of the best options:

Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley

  • Distance from Phoenix: 152 miles/3 hours, 15 minutes
  • Ability Level: Intermediate & advanced
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Mt. Lemmon from Phoenix is to drive. If you are driving, start on I-10 E to E Catalina Hwy, then Mt Lemmon Hwy to Ski Run Road.

Located in the Santa Catalina Mountains, north of Tucson, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley is one of the ski resorts near Phoenix that’s better for intermediate and advanced skiers. This resort has a fascinating history, as it was founded during WWI by a diverse group of ski enthusiasts. With 22 trails that are largely rated as intermediate or advanced, there’s plenty of adrenaline-inducing slopes for more experienced skiers. There’s also a ski school with lessons for beginners and first-timers. You can expect picturesque views here, as the resort is part of the Coronado National Forest.

Where to Stay Near Mt. Lemmon

Nearby Hotels: While there isn’t a full-service hotel on-site at Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley, you can stay at a hotel in nearby Tucson.

Cabin Rentals: There are tons of cabins for rent in the Mt. Lemmon area that are great for couples or groups and are much closer to the resort than hotels. Below are a few great options:

  • For those on a budget, this cute tiny home is just minutes from the resort and is the perfect place to rest your head after a day on the slopes – plus it’s very affordable!
  • For larger groups, this spacious, bright A-frame cabin sleeps 6 and has lots of open common areas to relax in.

Elk Ridge Ski Area – Currently Closed

  • Distance from Phoenix: 178 miles/3 hours
  • Ability Level: All levels, family oriented
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Elk Ridge from Phoenix is to drive. If you are driving, start on I-17 N, then I-40 W towards Williams, the Historic Route 66 to Ski Run Rd.

Located just minutes away from Williams, AZ, Elk Ridge Ski Area is a neighbor to the southern part of the Grand Canyon. This resort is fairly small, with just 11 trails across 37 skiable acres, and has mostly beginner-friendly and intermediate runs. There are also many options for skiers and snowboarders with disabilities. According to visitors, the conditions here are admittedly not great except in the coldest part of winter because the weather is generally warm.

The resort is part of the Kaibab National Forest, and it’s a really pretty part of the state. While Elk Ridge is probably not a ski resort you’ll stick around at for days on end, it’s a great stop to pair with a trip to the Grand Canyon or a drive on Route 66 if you’re craving some snow.

Sunrise Park Resort

  • Distance from Phoenix: 220 miles/4 hours (Greer, AZ)
  • Ability Level: All levels
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Sunrise from Phoenix is to drive. If you are driving, start on I-10 E to AZ- 87 Towards the White Mountains, off of 200 Hwy 273.

Owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe, Sunrise Park Resort is a fantastic ski resort that spans 3 peaks: Sunrise Peak, Apache Peak, and Cyclone Circle. Located in the heart of the White Mountains, there’s a lot to do here for winter sports enthusiasts across the resort’s 40 acres. Trails span all levels of experience, from beginner to expert. Coined the “Aspen of Arizona,” this picturesque ski area is surrounded by forests and mountain terrain. The resort stays true to its origins with the Sunrise Mountain Pow Wow, a perfect way to get involved/observe Apache traditions and dance during your stay.

Holders of the Indy Pass can enjoy access to this resort as well as 40+ resorts around the USA and Canada. Additionally, the resort grounds are home to tons of species of wildlife, including elk, horses, and wild turkey. Don’t miss the annual Yeti Fest event, which is a local favorite featuring dog sledding!

Where to Stay at Sunrise Park Resort

On Site: There are accommodations available at the Sunrise Park Hotel, which is the on-site lodge at the ski resort.

Nearby Hotels: If you want to save some money or stay off-site, the nearest town to the resort is Greer, AZ. There are a few hotels in this town that you can choose from.

Cabin Rentals: There are tons of cabins for rent in Greer that are better for larger groups or families. Below are a few great options:

  • With some of the best reviews in the Sunrise Park area, this scenic log cabin sleeps 6 and is just a few minutes’ drive from the resort.
  • For groups, this large, bright A-frame cabin offers 3 bedrooms that can accommodate 10 – perfect for families that require a lot of space.

Lee Canyon (Nevada)

  • Distance from Phoenix: 349 miles/5 hours 40 minutes
  • Ability Level: Mostly intermediate and advanced
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Lee Canyon from Phoenix is by car, or by flying into Las Vegas (LAS) and then driving.

Lee Canyon Ski Resort is a ski area near Las Vegas that caters mostly to intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. While it’s not the closest of the ski resorts near Phoenix, we’ve included it because it’s still very accessible from the city (and is just an hour away from the Las Vegas Strip).

The resort boasts 445 acres of skiable terrain, with 26 trails. Ponderosa Glade comes highly recommended by visitors and locals as the most beautiful glade to ski on the mountain. While there’s no lodge on-site, there’s currently one under construction and there are plenty of hotels nearby.

Where to Stay Near Lee Canyon

Nearby Hotels: There isn’t an on-site lodge for accommodations at Lee Valley, but you can stay nearby in Las Vegas. We’d recommend staying at a hotel in Northwest Las Vegas for the closest access to Lee Canyon.

Cabin Rentals: If you’ve got a group, your best bet is to get a cabin rental on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Hotels in the city can be quite pricey, especially in the winter, so a cabin rental may end up being a much more affordable option. Here are a few good options:

Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort (California)

  • Distance from Phoenix: 350 miles/5 hours, 40 minutes
  • Ability Level: All levels
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Big Bear from Phoenix is to drive or fly into LAX and rent a car

Big Bear Mountain Resort is a small but mighty ski area that packs a punch among the places to go snowboarding and skiing near Los Angeles. At 5 hours from Phoenix by car, Big Bear is best done as a weekend getaway or paired with a road trip through California.

At Big Bear, the majority of the 26 runs are rated as blue, or intermediate level. However, there are a handful of trails in the beginner, advanced, and expert categories. For more experienced skiers and snowboarders, Bear Peak features the highest, steepest, and most challenging peak in Southern California. If you’ve got a winter birthday, you’re in luck: you can get a free lift ticket on your birthday! For apres-ski, there’s plenty to do in nearby Big Bear Village, including tons of boutiques and shops.

Where to Stay Near Big Bear Mountain

Nearby Hotels: Big Bear Mountain is located near the town of Big Bear Lake, and there are lots of places to stay in the area. Big Bear Lake is a year-round resort area, and you’ll find a variety of hotels and resorts at every budget level here.

Cabin Rentals: For those coming from Phoenix, cabin rentals are a great option for larger groups or families. There are plenty of cabins in the Big Bear Lake area, and here are a few good options:

  • This centrally-located cabin is walkable to the ski slopes and comes equipped with a cozy wood burning furnace, perfect for enjoying a drink after the slopes.
  • Or, if you’ve got a larger group, this gorgeous, spacious cabin sleeps 8 and is walkable to the ski slopes within just a few minutes!

Angel Fire Resort (New Mexico)

  • Distance from Phoenix: 447 miles/7 hours
  • Ability Level: All levels
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Angel Fire is to drive from Phoenix or fly into Santa Fe/Albuquerque then rent a car. If you are driving from Phoenix, start on I-40 N towards Santa Fe, then NM-68 towards Sandia, to NM-585 onto Mountain View Blvd to Angle Fire resort.

Located in the Southern Rockies, Angel Fire Resort is a scenic ski area that often gets overshadowed by its big and famous neighbor, Taos. However, don’t knock this little gem before you learn more – it’s actually one of the most beloved ski resorts for beginners in the Southwest region. Because it’s lesser known than some of its nearby counterparts, you’ll escape huge crowds and find easy, leisurely slopes for learning. There are a whopping 80+ trails at the resort, ranging across experience levels from easy to expert.

In the winter, Angel Fire has an extensive snow-making capacity, which offers fresh powdered snow every day. Much of the resort consists of very accommodating and easy beginner to intermediate runs, and is family-friendly.

With its ski school for beginners and three levels of all-in-one beginner packages, Angel Fire is a great beginner-friendly ski resort that’s a great alternative to the more intimidating Taos. (Yes, we love it so much we included it in our list of the top beginner-friendly ski resorts!)

Where to Stay Near Angel Fire Resort

On Site: There’s a large lodge on site at Angel Fire Resort that’s got comfortable rooms and ski in/ski out access. This is the resort’s official accommodation, so it can be a little expensive, but it provides the best convenience to the slopes.

Nearby Hotels: Outside of the ski resort, there’s a small town called Angel Fire that has several hotels and accommodation options at more affordable prices.

Cabin Rentals: There are plenty of cabins for rent in the Angel Fire area that are suitable for larger groups. Here are a few good options:

Taos Ski Valley (New Mexico)

  • Distance from Phoenix: 568 miles (~9 hr 20 min)
  • Ability Level: All levels
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Taos is to drive from Phoenix or fly into New Mexico then take the shuttle. If you are driving from Phoenix, start on I-10 E to I-40 E to Nm-240 E to NM-150 N to resort.

One of the big names in skiing in the United States, Taos Ski Valley is one of the most beautiful and coveted ski areas in the country. Most recently, it won the USA Today Readers’ Choice Award for Best Ski Hotel. Home to the indigenous people of the Taos Pueblo, the site is the longest continuously inhabited Native American community in the US, and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With a whopping 110 trails ranging from beginner to expert level, there’s no shortage of adventure here. There’s a lot of snowmaking capability, keeping trails nice and crisp during the peak season. Experienced skiers especially love the variety of challenging trails throughout the resort, and beginners can find ski lessons, rentals, and more available. As a family-friendly resort, there’s tons to do on-site at the resort as well as in the surrounding areas.

Deer Valley (Utah)

  • Distance from Phoenix: 670 miles/10 hours
  • Ability Level: All levels
  • How to Get There: If you are driving, start on I-15 N then I-40 E towards Albuquerque, then US-189 to Deer Valley Dr. You can also fly into the Salt Lake City airport and take a direct shuttle to the resort.

Deer Valley Ski Resort is one of the most popular and well-known ski resorts in the Park City area, and while it’s not one of the closest ski resorts near Phoenix, it’s definitely worth the day-long trek. Home to the 2002 Winter Olympics, we know this resort will give you plenty of adventure opportunities. With over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain, this large resort spans 6 mountains in Utah’s Wasatch Range. The resort focuses on providing skiers with a very luxurious, upscale experience, from well-groomed trails spanning all levels to car service to the lodge and more.

Visitors to Deer Valley love the variety of terrain and the on-site amenities, including a unique “ski with a champion” program that enables guests to book ski sessions with Olympic athletes. There are also snowmobiling tours, on-site fine dining options, and more for those who are not planning on skiing.

Alta Ski Area (Utah)

  • Distance from Phoenix: 665 miles/10 hours
  • Ability Level: All levels
  • How to Get There: If you are driving, start on I-15 N to US-89 N, to UT- 71 N to UT- 210 to resort. You can also fly into Salt Lake City (SLC) and take a shuttle directly to the resort.

Located in the Wasatch Mountains, Alta is one of the larger resorts in Utah, clocking in at 116 trails across 2,614 acres. It’s a local favorite for skiing due to its variety in terrain and incredibly well-groomed trails with fantastic snow.

Alta is a ski-only resort with some of the best snow in the country that caters largely to more experienced skiers, with over 80% of trails rated as intermediate or advanced. There are other cool options at Alta for the adrenaline junkie, like helicopter skiing and back-country adventures. For beginners, they do offer various ski lessons as well.

Park City in the summertime (Photo Credit: Kay Rodriguez)

Park City Mountain Resort, UT

  • Distance from Phoenix: 669 miles/11 hours
  • Ability Level: All levels
  • How to Get There: If you are driving, start on I-15 N, then US-89 to UT-248 W to resort. You can also fly into Salt Lake City (SLC) and take a shuttle from Salt Lake City airport directly to the resort.

We’ve, of course, saved a whopper for last: Park City Mountain Resort, one of the most massive ski resorts in the country with over 7,300 acres of skiable terrain. There are over 330 trails across 17 peaks in this expansive resort, 115 which are open for night skiing. Park City Mountain Resort is especially catered toward intermediate to expert-level skiers, with 90%+ of the trails ranked as intermediate or harder.

Originally a silver mining town, Park City Mountain Resort offer year-round outdoor activities. In the winter, you’ll find a seemingly endless amount of trail options, 8 terrain parks, and a variety of resources for beginner skiers. The upscale on-site resort is a great spot for a family vacation activities, with plenty of non-ski activities like winter zip lining, snowmobiling, and mountain tours.

What to Pack

  • Waterproof outerwear – Possibly the most critical pieces of clothing for your ski trip packing list is durable, waterproof outerwear. Burton and Helly Hansen are famous ski brands for having best-in-class clothing that will keep you warm in the coldest, snowiest conditions. Click here to shop ski jackets and compare prices.
  • Thermal layers – Thermal baselayers are absolutely critical for a smooth skiing experience, as these will keep you warm and dry underneath your outerwear. The best kinds of thermal baselayers are made of Merino wool, which is moisture-wicking and comfortable. Our favorite brand of thermal layers is SmartWool – their tops and leggings are soft, lightweight, but warm and durable for all kinds of outdoor activities, including skiing. Click here to shop thermal tops and leggings and compare prices.
  • Ski goggles – No ski trip packing list would be complete without a pair of fog-resistant ski goggles, especially if you’re going somewhere that makes artificial snow. Ski slopes often have snow blowing into the air several times a day and it can be hard to keep freezing snowflakes out of your eyes, even during clear days. We use and recommend these ski goggles. However, you can shop ski goggles and compare reviews/prices here.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive list of things to pack, read our guide on What to Wear Skiing & Snowboarding and our Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List to view our full packing list and gear recommendations for the slopes!

Related Articles