Celebrating Snowbowl’s 80-Year History

This season marks Arizona Snowbowl’s 80th anniversary! Established in 1938, Arizona Snowbowl is one of the longest continually operating ski resorts in the country and to celebrate, we’re hosting an on-mountain party and a free concert in downtown Flagstaff on February 23rd and 24th!

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Skiers enjoy the snow in the bowlside during the 1950's

Skiers enjoy the snow in the bowlside during the 1950’s

After 80 years of hard work and dedication by the Flagstaff community, this is our chance to celebrate our mountain’s history! From the early days when skiers made their own equipment and hiked uphill to the establishment of Flagstaff High School’s very first ski team in 1940, it’s been a long and exciting 80 years on the mountain.

Did you know the original ski area, owned by the Flagstaff Ski Team, was on lower Hart Prairie near present-day Aspen Corner? In 1938, there was a rope tow for skiers to practice for competitions against teams from Prescott and Phoenix!

The original 1940's ski lodge

The original 1940’s ski lodge

A few years into the Ski Team’s history, Arizona Snowbowl officially got its name (after a contest held by the 20-30 Club). Other contenders were Alta Vista and Winter Haven.

In the 40’s, Snowbowl was largely shut down due to World War II. In 1946, a businessman from California, Al Grassmoen, bought Arizona Snowbowl and eventually built Agassiz Lodge by hand. While changes have been made since then, the original structure he built stands to this day!

The original Agassiz Lodge before the patio expansion and other additions

The original Agassiz Lodge before the patio expansion and other additions

After a decade of skiing on rope tows and a poma lift, the original Riblet Lift was installed in 1962. Not until 1988 was Sunset chairlift built! Who remembers when the towers were flown in by helicopter?

Skiers using the original rope tow lift

Skiers using the original rope tow lift

 

Snowbowl Road being paved in 1990

Snowbowl Road being paved in 1990

In the 2010’s, an effort was made to improve the largest beginner terrain in the southwest. Two conveyors were added in Hart Prairie, along with a dedicated Kids’ Zone and many more runs. For expert skiers, the region’s steepest groomed run, Upper Volcano, was added as well!

Modern moving conveyors like Big Spruce have revolutionized the beginner learning experience

Modern moving conveyors like Big Spruce have revolutionized the beginner learning experience

Since 2012, Snowbowl has added snowmaking infrastructure, which revitalized the ski resort.  Snowbowl now has more consistent slope conditions, and longer and more reliable seasons. Guests are able to plan winter trips, including spring break vacations in March and April with more confidence.

Snowmaking isn’t the only major improvement at the resort. Over the past three years, Snowbowl has added a new lift every year. In 2015, Snowbowl opened its first new chairlift in 30 years, the Humphrey’s Peak Quad, which serves popular intermediate trails. In 2016, Arizona Snowbowl installed its first high-speed lift, the Grand Canyon Express, which is the only high-speed six-person lift in Arizona.

In 2016, concrete was flown in by helicopters for the top terminal of the Grand Canyon Express

In 2016, concrete was flown in by helicopters for the top terminal of the Grand Canyon Express

In 2017, Snowbowl’s old double Hart Prairie chairlift was replaced by a new quad chairlift with a loading conveyor, which makes loading the lift easier and more efficient, especially for beginners. Also new this winter, Snowbowl is opening a new 300-seat restaurant, doubling the dining capacity at the base area. Plus, a new pedestrian overpass now connects the Hart Prairie Lodge with the Grand Canyon Express and Sunset chairlifts, eliminating the previous crosswalk, and helping reduce traffic and improve flow up to the Agassiz Lodge.

These are the memories, achievements, and people that made our mountain what it is today! To celebrate our 80th anniversary with us, come join us on February 23rd and 24th! Learn more about the event here.