Arizona Snowbowl

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Arizona Snowbowl
Peaks winter.jpg
Location Coconino County, Arizona, United States
Nearest city Flagstaff, Arizona
Top elevation 11,500 feet (3,500 m)
Base elevation 9,200 feet (2,800 m)
Skiable area 777 acres (3.1 km2)
Runs 32 total
37% beginner
42% intermediate
21% advanced/expert
Longest run 10,560 feet (3,219 m)
Lift system 5 total 2 triple chairs, 2 double chairs, 1 Surface)
Terrain parks 1
Snowfall 260 inches (6.6 m)/year
Web site http://www.arizonasnowbowl.com
Snowbowl Ski Lift, 2008

Arizona Snowbowl is an alpine ski resort located on the San Francisco Peaks, 7 miles (11.2 kilometers) north of Flagstaff, Arizona. The Snowbowl is a long-standing center of controversy regarding its effect on Native American sacred sites and religious practices. Numerous protests and arrests occurred in 2011.

The base elevation of the facility sits at 9,200 feet (2,804 m) and the resort receives an average annual snowfall of 260 inches (650 centimeters). It has a 2,300-foot (700 m) drop, the largest in Arizona, and has 5 lifts servicing the mountain. Two lodges, Hart Prairie Lodge and Agassiz Lodge, are located at the ski area. Arizona Snowbowl has been in operation since 1938.

Summer activities[edit]

Arizona Snowbowl is open year-round. Summer activities include:

  • Scenic Skyride: During the summer months, the Agassiz chairlift takes visitors to an elevation of 11,500 feet (3,505 m) for views of the surrounding area including the Grand Canyon 70 miles (112 kilometers) to the north.
  • Disc golf course: An 18 hole disc golf course winds among the ski runs.
  • Hiking: Several hiking trails begin from Arizona Snowbowl providing access to the Coconino National Forest. Trails include the Humphreys Peak Trail, a 4.5 mile (7.2 km) hike to Humphreys Peak, the highest point in the state of Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,850 m).

Development controversy[edit]

The Arizona Snowbowl operates under a 777 acres (3.14 km2) special use permit issued by the US Forest Service. In 1938, the Forest Service allowed the construction of a ski lodge and access road on the western slopes of the San Francisco Peaks. Full-scale development, with shops, restaurants, and lodges were first proposed in 1969, but the opposition of several tribes and community groups delayed this project.[1]

In 1979, the Forest Service approved a new lodge, a paved road, expanded parking, four new ski lifts and 50 acres (200,000 m2) of trails to be added to the existing ski area which would grow to 777 acres (3.14 km2). The Native people of the area protested that this invasion harmed sacred areas and imperiled their religious freedom. As the chairman of the Hopi tribe warned, “If the ski resort remains or is expanded, our people will not accept the view that this is the sacred home of the Kachinas. The basis of our existence will become a mere fairy tale.” Despite Hopi and Navajo protests, the Forest Service regional supervisor in 1980 approved the paving of an access road into the ski area. The Hopi and Navajo filed separate lawsuits to stop the development, while the Forest Service argued that religious rights would be unimpeded, and even facilitated, by the ski lifts—a concept that the tribes rejected. Three years later (the suits having been consolidated into one case, Wilson v. Block[2]), the Hopi and Navajo were unable to convince the District of Columbia Circuit Court that the Peaks were "indispensable" to their religions, and the suit was denied. According to the judge, permitting the Snowbowl expansion may have offended their beliefs, but the Forest Service had met the basic provisions of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978.

In July 2008, a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the tribes.[1] However, this decision was reversed by the full court.[3] The court allowed the Snowbowl to use "Class A+ reclaimed water" [4] to produce man-made snow, and to add upgrades of 2 new lifts, 10 more trails, and lodge expansions. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on January 5, 2009. The Supreme Court denied the tribes' petition for certiorari, allowing the Snowbowl to continue with their proposed updates to the resort.[5]

2011 Protests[edit]

Following the onset of the reclaimed water pipeline construction in 2011, activists have launched ongoing protests against the Snowbowl. 25 people were arrested between May and August 2011, including author and NPR commentator Mary Sojourner[6] and Klee Benally, Diné singer/guitarist for the rock group Blackfire, who has been arrested twice since protests began.[7][8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°19′40″N 111°41′43″W / 35.32778°N 111.69528°W / 35.32778; -111.69528