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Trip Report: Flagstaff

Trip Report: Flagstaff


When I say we rarely get snow in Phoenix, I mean it. The only time I remember snow on the ground in Phoenix was when I was in high school. I took the day off, it was such a momentous occasion. (I probably would have had more fun if I’d gone to school that day, but hey, that’s what hindsight is for, right?)

Go North!

Anyway, all we Phoenicians have to do is head north to find snow. It frequently snows in Flagstaff over the winter, plus nearby communities get snow, like Prescott, Payson, and the White Mountains. Flagstaff is just the easiest to get to, and I lived there for three and a half years in college, so there’s that.

Getting Ready for Snow

I kept watching the weather reports on my app, waiting for snow to pop up in the forecast. We haven’t played in snow in awhile. You could tell by the size of the snow boots I had gotten on clearance for the kids a few years ago, it must’ve been, because Carter couldn’t have fit into Maggie’s girlie ones if he had wanted to. He decided his fuzzy lined rubber boots would do, and Maggie and I went to Target to find some for her. They didn’t have her size, so I bought some that were a bit big for me and gave her mine. It’s crazy to think that we wear almost the same size!

Memory Lane

We were a little slow in getting it together in the morning. No matter. We hit some flurries in the air as we drove up the mountain. We decided to stop at my alma mater, Northern Arizona University, first to poke around until it was time for lunch. It was fun to see the old haunts and marvel at the new additions. We bought the kids a couple of trinkets in the bookstore and headed to lunch at a diner near our hotel, Northern Pines. The snow was coming down a bit harder as we were going in, and really picked up while we were eating.

Snow Play

The kids were anxious to play in it, so we went across the street to check into our hotel, Little America. As I said before, I’ve always wanted to stay here. When I lived in Flagstaff, it seemed like the place to be. The grounds are beautiful, with the trees all strung with lights. There’s a heated pool, playground, hot tub, and several hundred acres of backwoods. We had to wait a bit for our room, but got settled, bundled up, and went to check everything out. The kids played on the playground, and then we decided to walk the nature trail. It states that Loop A is a little over a mile, but I didn’t tell anyone that because I wanted to walk the whole thing, and I didn’t think the kids would be in for a mile, as they say. Well, we did end up walking the whole thing, much to the kids’ chagrin. By the time we were on the way back, the snow really started coming down and it was getting dark.

Cheap Dinner, Expensive Dessert

After a little picnic dinner in the room courtesy of our cooler from home, we ventured back out to find fresh powder on the ground. We walked over to the restaurant in the main building, but we were looking at an hour’s wait just for dessert. We ordered a selection of delectable desserts and hot chocolate for the kids and went back to our room to enjoy.

All to Ourselves

An early bedtime meant an early wake time, which was great for us, because no one else seemed to be up, and we had the woods to ourselves. The kids found a small hill, but only went down on their sled a couple of times. They tried making snowballs and snowmen, but the snow was hard to stick together since it was so powdery. After playing, we had just enough time to pack up the room and check out right at noon. Lunch was at La Fonda’s nearby, and we were ready to head back down the hill to Phoenix.

Fort Tuthill

On the way, we decided to stop at Fort Tuthill, the Coconino County fairgrounds, where the kids and I have played in the snow in years past. At that time, they had a giant cinder hill covered in snow and ice that everyone was climbing up and sledding down. As we approached the first parking lot, the sign indicated that the “Snowplay” lot was full, but that was a separate area that you had to reserve online ahead of time. Note to self for the future! We had a lot of fun in the informal area. Everyone was sledding off of the steep embankment made by the horse race track, making snowmen and having snowball fights. The snowfall picked up again as we were playing, and everyone had a great time.

Perfect Quick Trip

This trip was a perfect way to break up the doldrums of winter break and have some fun without spending too much money. The hotel cost us $33.63 out of pocket, plus 15,000 in Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which are worth $225. (You can read my breakdown on booking through the Chase Travel portal in this post.) We didn’t get any kind of discount on our other expenses, but we did save by bringing our own food for dinner and breakfast in the room, plus NOT booking the hotel’s North Pole Experience, which would have been $170.

The Nitty Gritty

Here’s the link to the spreadsheet of our expenses, or you can view it below.

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