Snowbowl Scenic Gondola Summit

Riding the Snowbowl Scenic Gondola

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

AddressSnowbowl 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 TimeApproximately 10 – 15 minutes each way
Sunset ToursLimited sunset tours available during the summer season.
Things to do at the topEpic views, a short walk, picnic benches, highest toilet in Arizona. Agassiz Peak is not accessible.
Note: We have no affiliation with Snowbowl Ski Resort. Our thoughts / opinions are our own. We paid full price for our tickets.

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.

Snowbowl Scenic Gondola Information board
Reader board near ticket counter at base of Snowbowl Ski Resort

When we visited, the resort was mostly empty and there was no line (it was also a weekday).

Snowbowl Arizona Gondola at base flagstaff
Entrance to Arizona Gondola
Snowbowl Ski Resort Arizona Gondola Instructions and Warnings
Instructions and warnings for gondola riders

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).

Appraoching Snowbowl Scenic Gondola Summit
Appraoching Snowbowl Scenic Gondola Summit
Nearing the gondola summit of 11,500′
Snowbowl Gondola Car

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′.

Snowbowl Scenic Gondola 11500 feet elevation

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.

Picnic Tables at Snowbowl Scenic Gondola
Picnic Tables
Arizona Snowbowl 11500 feet Top of Gondola

It wasn’t what I was expecting, but at least a silly story to tell at your next happy hour.

Highest Toliet in Arizona
Highest toilet in Arizona

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.

View from Arizona Gondola Summit
View from the summit of the gondola
Snowbowl Scenic Gondola Summit
Looking out over the valley
Humphreys Peak seen from Agassiz
Humphrey’s Peak seen in the distance
Information board on Snowbowl Arizona Gondola summit
Information boards

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.

Path above snowbowl scenic gondola
Trail at the summit of Arizona Gondola
Headed up the walking path
Walking path on Arizona Gondola Summit
Switchback (with gondola in the distance to the right)

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.

The view from the peaks snowbowl gondola arizona
Information sign at the high point
Fire and Ice Sculpted Peaks
Informational sign boards
Top of Arizona Gondola Picnic Area
Looking down towards the picnic area
Near Agassiz Peak Snowbowl Scenic Gondola
View from the highpoint along trail above the gondola
Snowbowl Gondola Summit with Flagstaff Arizona
Flagstaff seen from scenic gondola path

Many signs throughout the area warn visitors not to go off the path or they will face a $500 fine.

Agassiz Peak closed 500 dollar 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.

Agassiz Peak closed due to Senecio Franciscanus
Area closed due to protection of senecio franciscanus

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.

Yellow flowers native to San Francisco Peaks
Senecio franciscanus | Photo by: US Forest Service, Public Domain

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.

Agassiz Peak closed to hikers
View of a false summit of Agassiz (closed to hiking)

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.

Agassiz Summit

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.

Snowbowl Scenic Gondola in summer
Walking down the trail towards the gondola

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.

View from the gondola at Snowbowl ski resort
Heading back down the mountain
Snowbowl Gondola
Final approach to the base

Is the Snowbowl scenic gondola worth it?

Rating: 4.5 Mooses

4.5 Mooses Rating

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.

Welcome to Snowbowl

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.

Snowbowl Ski Resort Parking Area
Parking on a summer day

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.

Road leading to Snowbowl

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.

More Information for your trip to Flagstaff