Snow… in Arizona?? Most people don’t think of skiing and snowboarding when they think of Arizona. How is it possible to have snow in the desert? I get that question a lot! Well, one of the reasons our home base is in Arizona is because of how easily we can get to the beach, hiking, lakes, and snow! We are able to drive to almost any climate in about 5 hours, making it the perfect place to lay roots if you’re an adventurer.
So, back to the snow… Flagstaff, Arizona is only about 3 hours from the Phoenix area. It is home to NAU, craft breweries, and Arizona’s most popular snowboarding destination – Arizona Snowbowl. Snowbowl is definitely not the best mountain for skiing and snowboarding, but it’s close and scratches that snowboarding itch we get a couple times a year. You can see how much the snow conditions vary from our pictures over the last couple years. We love Snowbowl, however, hotels in Flagstaff are typically way overpriced for what you get, which made us reluctant to stay overnight in the past.
We used to do Snowbowl day trips – drive 3 hours, snowboard for 6 hours, and drive home 3 hours (it was actually our first date!). Luckily, this changed with Snowbowl’s Stay Free package! Most people I know in the Valley have no idea that this package even exists. With the purchase of two full price lift tickets, you get a free night at one of Flagstaff’s participating hotels. So, instead of doing the trip in one day, we now rent gear on Friday in Scottsdale at Ski Pro, drive up Friday after work, spend the night in the hotel, and head up to the mountain bright and early with a full night’s sleep and complimentary breakfast!
I use this package each year – either with my sisters or with Mike. It’s great for a romantic couple’s getaway or with a small group. Since we already have gear and lift tickets, we just need to hop on the first lift we see! Then, we choose whichever unlucky person gets to drive the 3 hours back to Phoenix.
There are several hotels that participate in this Stay Free package, and the list has grown each year. The whole point of this blog is to share our top three hotels to take advantage of this Stay Free package.
This is the BEST place to use the Stay Free package. It is located right at the base of the mountain, and it’s about 30 minutes closer than any other hotel. It’s not your typical hotel – you actually get a cute log-style cabin with a fireplace. It’s super cozy and romantic. Perfect for a couple’s getaway (ironically, this was the time I went with my sister). The on-site restaurant has great service, food, and ice cold beer.
We choose this as our second favorite Stay Free package option not because of the location (it’s about 30 minutes from Snowbowl) but because of how nice the hotel is! It is clearly newly renovated and very modern. The complimentary breakfast was really good and had several options for a continental breakfast. The staff was extremely friendly and provided us with anything we needed.
One drawback is that the only place available to eat later at night is Oregano’s, which is in the same parking lot as the hotel. We still had a great time here, but it is the only food option. It was definitely a perk that we could just walk back to the hotel after splitting a few pitchers of beer. There is also a gas station/corner market next to the hotel. We stocked up on snacks and drinks before heading up the mountain. This saves a couple bucks since the gas stations close to Snowbowl are usually overpriced.
We love this hotel because of the staff. Everyone we spoke to was nice and fun. The rooms are pretty big, which was one of the reasons we chose it since I went with two of my sisters to this one. The restaurant on site was really good and upscale, but pretty pricey. It takes a little bit longer to get to Snowbowl from here, but it’s similar in distance as Hampton Inn. Unfortunately, the time we used this hotel for the Stay Free package ended a little short after my sister broke her arm on the slopes!
We hope this helps motivate you to hit up Arizona’s slopes! It really is the perfect weekend getaway! Make sure to book Stay Free packages FAR in advance. They book up quickly, especially when it recently snows in Flagstaff. We had to call about 8 different hotels to find one with an available room this year. Some of the hotels didn’t really know what package we were referring to when we asked about the Stay Free package. I often find that the package has a different name in their system, so if you just keep describing it in different ways, eventually they find it.