Arizona's best, beautiful, biggest ski resort keeps me coming back

by: Brady82 - Jan 22, 2012

  • Overall Rating 4
  • Family Friendly 0
  • All-Mtn. Terrain 4
  • Terrain Park 4
  • Nightlife 3

    Pros: Little/no lines, 2 base day lodges w/rental shops, slopes not crowded, some night skiing

    Cons: No base "village", only 1 high speed lift, 30 mins from cities, 5 cross-peak runs

    Recommended For: Singles, Family Friendly

    Date Visited: Dec 1, 2011


Full review

I have been going to Sunrise once a year for four years. As a kid I skied in various places across multiple states, and I keep coming back to Sunrise for being decent, not crowded, beautiful, and relatively cheap. These park & area benefits make the 4-5 hour drive to Sunrise all worth it for 1.5-3 days worth of carving slopes. As long Phoenicians look at NOAA weather maps & ADOT traffic alerts, they can easily determine which of the two highway routes has better conditions.
On the weekend before Christmas, I did not have to wait more than one minute to get on their most popular lift, which happens to be their only high speed lift. No runs are crowded, and the more difficult the terrain, the more it seems like your private ski resort, especially on weekdays.
Although I did not rate "family friendly", there seems to be an ample number of such services to the park. I can confirm that the ski school was decent and professional. I took a group intro snowboarding lesson and a privte ski lesson to get acquianted with doing diamond (most difficult) runs, both of which were worth it for me.
I did not use the terrain park much, but I rated it 4 stars since they had most features (may vary with conditions) except a half pipe. Terrain variety amongst the 3 peaks is pretty good, where Sunrise has mostly Beginner-Intermediate and the other two peaks have mostly intermediate to expert (diamond) & expert only (a few double diamond) runs. However, the variety of cross-peak runs between apache and sunrise could be better, hence my 4 star rating. Three runs (not including Quakie which closed this season) go from Sunrise to Apache, while only one run/catwalk (Sidewinder) goes from Apache to Sunrise. If you are a snowboarder, make sure to get a good amount of speed before getting on the south part of Sidewinder.
Two Saturdays a month for 2-3 months, they have the only night skiing in Arizona for only a few dollars more than their day pass. The 1-2 paths that they have lit on Sunrise peak for this are mostly intermediate runs, but it is a very unique experience.
Overall, service at the park is pretty good, as the local Apache people that happen to work everywhere except the ski school are very respectful.
Sunrise is on an Indian reservation and it is 30 minutes to the nearby cities of Greer or Showlow/Pinetop. An indian casino is a little closer, so count on those for your "night life." I can't speak to the Sunrise hotel 5 minutes north of the park, as I have only ever stayed in Greer lodges or Pinetop, but I strongly recommend a Greer lodge as that area is more beautiful than the Showlow/Pinetop city in my opinion.

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