The Snowbowl scenic gondola near Flagstaff, AZ takes adventurers up 11,500′ on Agassiz Peak. Pack a picnic lunch and get ready to experience expansive views, epic photo ops, and fresh air on this journey into the San Francisco Peaks area.
- Snowbowl scenic gondola quick info
- What to expect on the Snowbowl scenic gondola
- Map of gondola summit area
- Things to do at the top
- Walking path
- Is the gondola ride worth it?
- Practical Information for your trip
Snowbowl Scenic Gondola Quick Info
|Address||Snowbowl Scenic Gondola, Flagstaff, AZ 86001|
|Hours of Operation||Open Daily, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (subject to change)|
|Pricing (Summer Scenic Rides)||Starting at $19 and up (pricing subject to change, varies based on day visited)|
|Ride Time||Approximately 10 – 15 minutes each way|
|Sunset Tours||Limited sunset tours available during the summer season.|
|Things to do at the top||Epic views, a short walk, picnic benches, highest toilet in Arizona. Agassiz Peak is not accessible.|
What to expect on the Snowbowl scenic gondola (our experience)
Any chance we get, we’re always wanting to ride gondolas to the top of mountains (i.e. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway).
For our trip to Flagstaff, we were excited to ride up the Arizona Gondola and explore the walking path at the top.
After arriving at the base of the mountain, we purchased our tickets at the desk and headed outside for the ride up.
Note: There is an online option to prepurchase tickets, however, unless there’s a special event that day or you have an inflexible schedule, we recommend waiting to purchase your tickets until you arrive (this only applies to summer visits, we read online that winter sells out frequently). There are no refunds for any reason (including weather). The best they’ll do is give you a credit to return on another day within the same sesaon. We were also asked to provide our birthdates and sign a waiver before being allowed to ride.
When we visited, the resort was mostly empty and there was no line (it was also a weekday).
The ride is advertised to take 10 -15 minutes to get to the top, but it seemed a lot quicker than that to us (maybe 10 minutes).
Map of Snowbowl Scenic Gondola Area
Things to do at the top
After arriving at the summit, we decided to have a look around. A sign greeted us stating we had arrived at 11,500 feet in elevation, with Agassiz Peak coming in at 12,360′.
To the right of the gondola, you’ll find a group of picnic tables and a structure that contains that highest toilet in Arizona. A little play on words the friendly staff at the mountain love to tell their guests.
It wasn’t what I was expecting, but at least a silly story to tell at your next happy hour.
To the left of the gondola, you’ll find a few chairs, some informational signboards and amazing views of Humphreys Peak, along with the valley below.
The area immediately surrounding the gondola is pretty small, so we recommend taking the short walking path up to a slightly higher elevation.
Walking path above the Arizona Gondola
The walking path starts up a set of wooden stairs along the mountainside and curves back around in a gentle switchback to another landing area.
The walking path was around 0.4 miles round trip and approximately 75 feet in elevation gain.
You’ll arrive in a larger landing area which contains more picnic tables, additional informational signs and views of various mountains along with Flagstaff in the distance.
Many signs throughout the area warn visitors not to go off the path or they will face a $500 fine.
Continuing a short distance up the trail past the picnic tables, you will be met with a fence and be unable to go further.
Unfortunately, the area is closed due to the protection of a rare and endemic flower that grows in the area. The senecio franciscanus (aka packera franciscana) is native to the San Francisco Peaks area and doesn’t grow anywhere else in the world. The plant grows at a specific elevation (10,322′ to 12,576′) in harsh conditions amongst the talus you see strewn across the hillside. It is extremely fragile and easily destroyed by simple recreational activities such as hiking. The plant is on the endangered species list and protected by the government. You can read more about the plant here.
When at the end of the trail it looks really tempting to want to hop the fence and “summit” Agassiz peak. In the picture below, it looks like you’re only a couple hundred feet from the top.
We found out later the view from that area is a false summit and you’re not close to the peak at all. Agassiz Peak is 12,360′ and the summit of the gondola is at 11,500′. The picture below was taken from Humphreys Peak trail and shows how far away the summit truly is from that landing area.
Not to mention, the peak is officially closed and hikers will be fined if they try to summit Agassiz. We recommend climbing up Humphreys instead. Plus, Humphreys is 12,637′ in elevation, which is the tallest peak in Arizona.
Related: Read more about our trip up Humphreys Peak
After soaking up the views, we decided to head back down the path and catch a ride on the gondola back down the mountain.
Before we hopped on, a friendly staff member told us we had picked the perfect day to visit. They went on to tell us that leading up to our visit the monsoon season had filled the entire valley with rainy days and gray cloudy skies. It was the first day in a while that everything had been clear. We recommend only going up the mountain when the visibility is clear.
Is the Snowbowl scenic gondola worth it?
Rating: 4.5 Mooses
What we liked:
- The weather and visibility were amazing the day we visited and there were virtually no crowds.
- We enjoyed views of the valley and Humphreys Peak.
- We felt the ticket price was reasonable compared to other summer gondola rides we’ve taken.
- The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful.
What we didn’t like:
- We understand the need to close Agassiz Peak to protect the flowers, but were slightly disappointed we weren’t allowed to go to the summit.
- They didn’t have any sort of snack bar or treats for purchase at the top. You could purchase something at the base and bring it up with you or you’ll have to pack a lunch from home.
Verdict: We felt it was worth the price of admission and we’re glad we went.
Practical Information for your trip
Parking at the Snowbowl Ski Resort in the summer
In the summer months, parking is abundant and free at the Snowbowl Ski Resort.
You’ll want to drive to the end of the road as far as possible and park in one of the two closest lots to the ski lodge area.
Here’s a parking map on their website.
When we visited, monsoon season had just passed and the road was a little torn up but passable. We were in a sedan and didn’t have any issues, but keep in mind the parking area was dirt/gravel.
Other things to do at Snowbowl
In the summer, there are several other activities you may want to consider on your trip.
- Enjoy the Agassiz Restaurant and Bar at the base
- Relax around the fire pit
- Play different games including connect four, corn hole or checkers
- Play a round of disc golf (starting at the base)
- Hike several different trails in the area including Aspen Loop trail or Humphreys Peak
- Other activities for kids include the bungee trampoline, summer tubing, rock wall, treasure panning, or barrel rolling.