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Who are the Experience Arizona Adventurers?

Matt Marine

Matt Marine is an Arizona resident who loves exploring Arizona's wonderful outdoor adventures. To find out more about Matt, click the link below.

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Cat-Dog is my faithful trail companion. Her real name is Cammie. Why do I call her Cat-Dog?

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Sara Harelson

I’m Sara! I’m 21, a senior in college, and a journalism major.  I love to read, write, travel, and listen to music.  I’m always on to my next adventure.


See Intern Page for previous interns

Scenic Chair Lift: A Ride Into Fall

By Elisabeth Morales

“Bundle up! It’s cold,” read the sign at the front of the shop where you purchase tickets. “Blankets $19.99, enjoy your ride!”

The short but winding drive to the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, Arizona was incredibly serene. Coming from Northern Arizona University it’s a short ride through downtown following San Francisco St. and Butler Ave to the Historic Route 66. From there, hop on the US 180 to Snow Bowl Rd and that will lead the way to mountains perfect for skiing and snowboarding at Snowbowl.

But it’s barely October, so what could someone possibly be doing heading towards the snowless peaks?

Taking guests up the western side of the San Francisco Peaks, Snowbowl offers scenic chairlift rides throughout the summer season so visitors can take in the expansive surroundings and vibrant fall color changes.

It was a mixture of my anticipation for the upcoming snowboarding/skiing season and the desire to see trees with actual fall colors that drove me to try this scenic ride, despite my slight fear of heights. The base of the mountain sits at 9,500 feet elevation and is accompanied by the Peak Side Café, where you can relax and grab something to eat inside or out on their large patio leading up to the scenic chairlift. Strung lights and heaters decorate the patio, and of course the jaw dropping view of the peaks is nice too.

Walking up to the lift, it was surprising to hear so little. Everything always seems much quieter in the mountains and this was no exception, even with the chair lift operating.  Soon I was standing in the exact spot I was told to, in the shoe prints marked on the mat, and waiting for the lift to come swoop me up 2,000 feet higher than I already was.

“Lift your legs up and pull that bar down!” instructed the ride operator as I was swept away. She was referring to the one bar above and in one swift movement it was easy to pull down. That’s all there was to save a passenger from slipping out the bottom, but it wasn’t as terrifying as I had imagined it as. This was mostly thanks to the surrounding environment’s distractions.

Trees covered in bright yellows, burnt oranges and forest greens seemed to touch the sky. I could hear only the wind whistling through and the occasional bird chirping. The ground was never too far, no more than about 50 feet away and as the lift climbed higher and higher the wind chill became colder and colder. My sweatshirt and pants were no match - the wind was blowing right through them and I had to pull my sweatshirt over my ears at one point to protect them. As a sign at the mountain base pointed out, the weather had indeed changed rapidly.

After about 25 minutes it was time to dismount the lift and scurry as fast as possible to the right so as not to be knocked down by the continually moving chair. At 11,500 feet, the rest of the world was breathtaking. Sedona’s red rocks and the walls of the Grand Canyon were among my view and the clouds so close they almost felt touchable.  A Forest Service interpretive specialist was one of the few atop the mountain answering visitor’s questions on the history, geology and biology of the region and he had gathered a small crowd paying careful attention to him.

The cold wind chill was only bearable for so long and I began to wonder if it would be hard to drive home with frozen fingertips. Soon it was time to be carried back down the mountain another 2,000 feet. The lift back was just as serene as the way up with visitors traveling up the mountain waving and saying hi to those going down and vice versa. I sat there listening to the birds, soaking in the silence and beauty, fully aware I would miss this back in the desert. I watched as each pole passed with signs on them indicating the decreasing elevation. 11,000…10,500…10,000…9,500.

“Alright put your feet down and run as fast as you can past the yellow line,” instructed a different operator this time. Thankfully, it wasn’t as hard as it sounded.

At the base, the temperature was barely warmer than the top and the wind chill had found its way down here as well. I had expected the temperature to warm up as afternoon approached, but it only dropped and I couldn’t help but feel bad for the people just beginning their journey to the top. My ears, toes and fingers were bright red and almost impossible to move - maybe next time the blanket from the shop would be a good purchase. Some gloves and a scarf probably wouldn’t hurt either. But any way you look at it, the trip was well worth it.

Snowbowl Chair Lift Information:

9300 N. Snow Bowl Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86002
Telephone: 928-779-1951
Hours: 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. 7 days a week through Fall Color Change in MidOctober - Reopens Nov. 11, 2016

Junior (6-12)


Adult (13-64)


Senior (65 & up)


5 & under


For more information, please visit their website at:
Arizona Snowbowl


Have you been on this adventure? What did you think? Comments and updates welcome by clicking here.

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