Powder in Flagstaff means East Valley residents can play. Recent winter storms have blanketed Flagstaff with light, fluffy snow — the kind snowboarders and skiers crave.
Cross-country skiers are already traversing the trails at the Flagstaff Nordic Center, and Snowbowl, Flagstaff’s alpine ski area, will open Saturday.
As far as ski towns in Arizona go, it’s hard to beat Flagstaff with its unpretentious vibe, quaint historic downtown and college spirit.
“What you’ll find in Flagstaff is that it’s not inconceivable to find at some coffee shop a dirty mountain biker at one table, a professor at another and the head of some neurology department at another,” says Wendell Johnson, owner of the Flagstaff Nordic Center. “It’s what you won’t find in other places.”
Even if skiing isn’t your thing, there’s plenty to do in Flagstaff.
Cross-country skiing is a tradition at the Flagstaff Nordic Center. Skiers taking a break from the trails get warm by the fire while sipping hot cocoa bought in the lodge cafe. Rent skis or snowshoes and explore 35 miles of trails. Or take a 30-minute sleigh ride.
“It’s great mountain terrain,” says Johnson. “We get everyone from everyday people to athletes.” The Flagstaff Nordic Center is also the site of the Arizona Cup, a tradition Johnson says “local yokels” started to see who was the best skier in town.
The cup will take place Saturday, along with Snow-or-No-Snowshoe Race a day later.
Details: Flagstaff Nordic Center, Milepost 332, state Highway 180. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. $10-$12 for weekday passes, $12-$15 for weekend day passes, $10 half day (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.). $15-$20 equipment rental. (928) 220-0550 or www.flagstaffnordiccenter.com.
Seated at the tables of Cafe Espress is a microcosm of Flagstaff society. Angst-ridden intellectuals dressed in fleece and flannel sit in deep discussion at a table in the window, college students dish over coffee and bikers wander in for a short respite from the wind.
The cafe is a popular breakfast spot with college students. Lunch is on the gourmet side with plenty of vegetarian options.
Details: 16 N. San Francisco St. Winter hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. (928) 774-0541.
Flagstaff’s historic downtown is known for boutiques and historic buildings haunted by the past. Crystal Magic is one-stop shopping.
In this bookstore/jewelry store/gallery you can buy a stone for whatever ails you: citrine to bring wealth, amethyst to ward off psychic attacks (particularly from your boss) or angelite for enhancing creativity. Or you can commune with the ghost of a 12-year-old girl who was allegedly murdered in the basement. This mischievous girl is sometimes credited with misplacing items. She once sent a box flying past a clerk’s ear.
“You just kind of get used to it,” clerk Lenna Cherry says with a wry smile.
Books about American Indian, Eastern and New Age spirituality line the store’s shelves. Occasionally, clerks take some pretty bizarre calls and often refer those inquiries to Sedona.
“We are constantly getting asked for spell stuff,” says Cherry, who notes that while Crystal Magic sells spell implements, they don’t help with the creation of spells.
“We are not the Wicca help line,” she says.
Details: 5 N. San Francisco St. Winter hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (928) 779-2528.
On our recent trip, with the wind whipping through us, we stepped into the Weatherford Hotel to escape. Fate beckoned in a corner of this hotel built in 1897.
“Character reading for a penny,” the scale said. “Your wate, your fate.” I stripped off my coat, hat and gloves and stepped onto the scale. “Careful,” a clerk behind the front desk said. “It’s about 30 pounds off.” Fabulous. Thirty pounds off sounded nice, but once the scale gave a creaky whirl the result was 30 pounds in the other direction. And my fortune? “You give praise to those who deserve it.”
Details: Hotel Weatherford, 23 N. Leroux. (928) 779-1919 or
Flagstaff’s downhill ski area is scheduled to open 9 a.m. Saturday. The Hart Prairie beginner area and the Sunset intermediate terrain will open along with Hart Prairie Lodge. Other trails and lifts will open as more snow falls. All-day passes are $46 adults, $25 seniors or children ages 8-12. Half-day passes (noon to 4 p.m.) are $36 adults on the weekends, $31 adults midweek, $20 seniors and children ages 8-12. Information: (928) 779-1951 or www. arizonasnowbowl.com.
Take Interstate 17 north to Flagstaff. Follow the signs to Route 66 and downtown Flagstaff.
Little experience driving in the snow? Visit www.azdot.gov/knowsnow and learn about driving the snow-covered highways of Arizona’s high country.
The Flagstaff Nordic Center will host ski and snowshoe races. Information: (928) 220-0550.
Ski on illuminated trails through aspen forests, then warm up by the fire with hot chocolate and cider during Friday Evening Skiing 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. today. $10 (ski rental is an additional $10).
Compete for the coveted Arizona Cup during the Skate and Ski Race 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday. Events include a 10K freestyle skate and a 10K and 2K classic (diagonal stride). $35 adults, $20 children age 17 and younger. Enter one race and pay an additional $10 for another.
The Snow-or-No Snowshoe Race 8 a.m. Sunday will feature 2K, 5K and 10K races. $35 adults, $20 children age 17 and younger.