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Sunrise Ski School not only provides a variety of instruction levels for kids and adults, it also offers child care so parents can spend a day on the slopes without worrying about leaving the kids at home (the facility can handle children as young as two months). The course for beginners includes usage of a three-tower ski lift so novices can practice one of the more challenging aspects of the sport: Mastering the lift. Bill strongly encourages those new to the sport to invest in lessons rather than rely on a friend or spouse to show you the ropes. “I think skiing and snowboarding lessons have been the demise of many a relationship,” says Bill. “Take the time to take lessons.”
Sunrise received 300 inches of snow last year – a bit less than the resort’s early 1980s’ heyday, when 350 inches and 230,000 visitors weren’t unusual. The season typically begins the first weekend in December and lasts through the first weekend in April, though the resort has been open as early as mid-November. Bill says Sunrise has been making snow since the late 1970s but snowmaking is limted to Sunrise Peak only, and makes up about 15 percent of the mountain’s snow, mainly to supplement high-traffic areas. The resort sits at an elevation of 9,300 feet with a peak elevation of over 11,000 feet and 1,800 vertical feet. It all adds to up ideal conditions.
“We have good snow because of our high elevation and low humidity,” says Bill. “It’s usually light and dry. Being in the Southwest the sun provides a warmth you won’t find further north, in the Rockies.”
The park also offers activities for those not interested in strapping on skis or a snowboard. Located at the base of Sunrise Park Resort, Snowy Mountain Stables offers horseback riding in the winter – rides last anywhere from 30 minutes to a full day. The outfitters also offer romantic 20- and 40-minute sleigh rides. Sunrise General Store rents snow tubes – basically large inner tubes used instead of a traditional sled – with a tubing hill located behind Lake Ono, off the main entrance to the ski area. Sunrise includes more than 13 miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (lessons available). You can also venture out onto Sunrise Lake for some ice fishing or, if you’d rather try your luck at the blackjack table, Hon-Dah Resort and Casino is only a short drive away.
Sunrise Park Resort is located in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, on Hwy 273 near the town of Show Low. Call 928-735-7669 for information or visit www.sunriseskipark.com
• Usually open the first weekend in December through the first weekend in April
• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily; night skiing is offered four or five weekends each season, especially during holiday weekends
• Season passes range from $375 for children to $645 for adults; all-day lift tickets cost $49 for adults, $42 for ages 13 to 17, and $28 for children 12 and under
• The park offers skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback rides, sleigh rides, ice fishing, sledding and tubing, lessons, and equipment rentals
• Overnight lodging available at Sunrise Park Lodge, located on Sunrise Lake