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!
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!
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!
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?
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!
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 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.