Top Ten Arizona Adventures

Off the Beaten Path: Ski the San Francisco Peaks
By Tyler Williams

The snow-capped San Francisco Peaks incongruously jut out of the otherwise flat terrain of the southern Colorado Plateau. An extinct volcano, the peaks once rose to more than 14,000 feet. But with the original top long since blown off, today we're left with a summit of 12,633 feet—still high enough to hold snowfields into June.

The Arizona Snowbowl provides lift access to the west side of the mountains, but backcountry skiers will want to focus their attention on the east- and north-facing slopes of the inner basin. Here, skiers will be treated to broad bowls, steep chutes, and gentle aspen glades. Come prepared with forecasting skills for avalanches. Regardless of the ski conditions, the views from the top are spectacular, including the North Rim of Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert.


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