You know snowmobiling has “arrived” when it’s (finally) mentioned on the state of Arizona’s official tourism website.
Maybe tourism officials are finally noticing something we’ve known for years: not only does it snow in the Grand Canyon state’s higher elevations, it snows enough that you can enjoy several weeks of snowmobiling during the dead of winter, and there are some diehard sledders who like winter in Arizona for more than just golf and sun.
The average snowfall each winter in most areas of Arizona where you can snowmobile is about 100 inches. Of course, snowfall depends on the elevation. For example, Pinetop-Lakeside, one of Arizona’s famous mountain retreats, sits at 6,800 feet and gets about 46 inches of snow a winter. Head a bit east and south to Hawley Lake (elevation 8,200 feet) and the snowfall more than triples to 168 inches a winter. Southeast a little more and you find Baldy Peak (11,590 feet) and the snowfall is more than 225 inches a year.
The snow falls on mountains that dissect Arizona from northwest to southeast.
Arizona’s snowmobile season isn’t as long as in other western locales, but when the snow does fall you can head to the high country and find lots of untracked snow.
There are no groomed trails in the state but there are plenty of old logging roads and forest service roads that crisscross the band of mountains that help form the Mogollon Rim and points northwest. This swath of mountains is about 250 miles or so from one end to the other.
Your best source of information on snowmobiling in Arizona is to go to www.fs.fed.us and navigate to Arizona’s national forests and look under the recreation section. The numbers listed in the chart under “Information” are also helpful.