The southwestern states are commonly thought to be dry and arid year round but, in Arizona, this stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. While cities like Scottsdale and Mesa and national parks like Death Valley are known for their scorching temperatures, Northern Arizona rarely sees days that are hotter than 98 degrees.
In fact, Northern Arizona sees heavy snowfall and is the ideal place for winter recreation. With activities like skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, and even winter camping, this part of the country is a destination for cold weather enthusiasts. For those who live in Forest Lakes in the Mogollon Rim Country, there is an abundance of things to do this winter just a short distance away. Keep reading for the top things to do in northern Arizona this winter.
Things to do in Payson
This historic city is just a 45 minute drive away from Forest Lakes. While many of the attractions here are available year round, they make for a perfect day-trip that doesn’t require much time spent outside. Escape the cold and explore the past in this charming town.
The Payson Candle Factory
Admire the process of candle making with a trip to the Payson Candle Factory. This local gem is a destination for many travelers as they sell handmade candles and even teach visitors how to make their own.
The Mogollon Rim
While it is possible to hike to the top of this beautiful natural landmark, many prefer to drive during the colder months of the year. Whichever you prefer, you will be greeted at the top of the Mogollon Rim with extraordinary vistas of Rim Country that are worth seeing no matter the time of year.
The Zane Grey Cabin and Museum
Learn about local history at this charming museum dedicated to the author Zane Grey. Tour the exhibits as well as a replica of the cabin he built in Rim County in 1921.
Things to do in Flagstaff
For those who enjoy outdoor recreation in the winter, the ultimate destination in northern Arizona is Flagstaff. With an average annual snowfall of just over 100 inches, this city comes alive in the colder months of the year. Winter recreation includes skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding and local amenities like coffee and comfort food. Flagstaff is certainly a go-to spot for travelers and northern Arizona residents alike.
The Arizona Snowbowl
This high-altitude ski resort sees an average of 260 inches of snow each year, making it one of the most popular winter destinations in Arizona. Grab your skiis and take advantage of the high-speed, 6-person chairlift that will deliver you to the top of the mountain in no time. If you prefer to move at a slower pace, snowshoe or cross-country ski along the trails at the Arizona Snowbowl. The landscape here transforms during the winter months. With snow-covered pines and a view of snow-capped mountains, you’ll be persuaded to stay all day.
Hotel Monte Vista
When your fingers and toes have turned to ice and it’s time to go inside, drop by the popular Hotel Monte Vista. This historic site in downtown Flagstaff is known for being one of the most haunted hotels in the country. Built in 1926, Hotel Monte Vista is home to Rendezvous Coffee & Martini Bar, a quaint shop serving up local coffee from Firecreek and alcoholic beverages. After you’ve finished your warm caffeinated beverage, saddle up to the bar to enjoy one of the Rendezvous’ famous martinis.
Flagstaff is also host to several holidays events throughout the month of December. The North Pole Experience at the Little America Hotel is perfect for bringing the kids to meet Santa, attend Elf University, and bring in the holiday cheer.
If you’re looking for a New York-style New Years Eve Experience, head into town for the Great Pine Cone Drop at the Weatherford Hotel. Every year, citizens from all over the Northern Arizona region drive into town to meet in downtown Flagstaff to watch a giant, lit up pinecone drop as the clock counts down. It’s one of the most popular ways to bring in the new year in Arizona.
Things to do in Sedona
Not far from Flagstaff is Sedona, another one of Arizona’s major tourist attractions and a beautiful place to visit in the winter. While many of the attractions in Sedona remain the same year round, you are sure to find the best rate on lodging in the winter months, making this an ideal time for locals to visit.
The Red Rocks of Sedona are a natural landmark that draws in visitors nationwide. These red rock buttes were once sandbars that protruded from the ocean during the prehistoric era. Due to water and wind erosion, they’ve been transformed into the breathtaking scenery that they are today.
Native Americans consider the Red Rocks to be a sacred and mystical site, and many New Age groups believe they emit electromagnetic fields of energy that offer healing powers. We recommend a visit during the holiday season to witness the incredible Red Rock Fantasy in which local families create magical holiday displays.
Written by Lexi Carr for the Walters Realty Group