Does It Snow in Arizona? Snowiest Places and Average Amounts

Arizona snow
© Monica Lara/Shutterstock.com

Written by Joyce Nash

Published: December 6, 2023

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Arizona’s landscape is dominated by deserts, and it is the only state to contain all four of the deserts found within the United States. The Sonoran Desert encompasses the southern region of the state and the cities of Tucson and Phoenix. The Mojave, Chihuahuan, and Great Basin deserts all stretch into corners of the state. With so much desert terrain, does it snow in Arizona?

Although deserts are known for sweltering high temperatures and low precipitation, yes it does snow in Arizona! Snow is most common in the state’s northern highlands, with some areas receiving over 100 inches of snowfall each year. Keep reading to learn all about the snowiest places and average snowfall amounts in the Grand Canyon State.

Flagstaff

Snow covered San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff Arizona

Snow can last on the San Francisco Mountains through June.

©Kyle Benne/Shutterstock.com

Sitting among the San Francisco Mountains at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, Flagstaff tops the list as one of the snowiest places in Arizona. Thanks to its elevation, Flagstaff experiences all four seasons and averages around 100 inches of snow each year.

Snow can begin falling in Flagstaff as early as November and can remain on the San Francisco peaks through June. During the winter, temperatures in Flagstaff reach an average high of 38 to 40 degrees. Due to the arid climate, nighttime temperatures can drop by at least 20 degrees, although the temperature rarely drops below 10 degrees.

The Flagstaff Snow Park is a popular destination to enjoy the wintry conditions. However, visitors may need a 4WD vehicle and snow chains to reach the facility. Visitors can enjoy playing in the snow, tubing down snow-covered slopes, or staying warm near an outdoor fireplace.

Prescott

A fall view of the prescott square

Arizona’s “Christmas City” receives an average of 5-6 inches of snow each December, January, and February.

©Allison J. Hahn/Shutterstock.com

Founded in 1864, Prescott is one of Arizona’s oldest cities and gained early prominence as a site for gold and silver mining. The city’s history is entwined with tales of the Wild West, and it was even the home of famed outlaws Doc Holliday and Virgil Earp. Today, Prescott is home to around 46,000 residents and is known as the state’s “Christmas City” due to its regular annual snowfall.

Sitting at an elevation of 5,200 feet, Prescott receives an average of 5-6 inches of snow each month from December through February. During these months, temperatures generally range from the low 20s to the mid-50s, making Prescott an excellent destination for winter recreation. 

While the city typically sees around 15-20 inches of snow per year, in 1967, Prescott received 17 inches of snow in a single day! However, that snowfall pales in comparison to 1949, when Prescott saw a total annual snowfall of over 51 inches.

The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park in Winter

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon receives around 12 feet of snow each year.

©Kobby Dagan/Shutterstock.com

The Grand Canyon is one of the snowiest places in Arizona. The canyon’s North Rim receives an average of 142 inches of snow each year! Snow can begin falling as early as November and is a regular occurrence through December and January. 

The canyon stretches for over 270 miles with elevations that span from around 2,000 to 8,000 feet. Due to its shape and intense elevation changes, the canyon influences the weather inside and around it. In general, the temperature in the Grand Canyon is higher at lower elevations. When snow falls, it typically turns into rain before reaching the bottom of the canyon.

While the North Rim can receive nearly 12 feet of snow each year, the South Rim sees an annual average of 58 inches, or about four and a half feet, of snow. The South Rim remains open year-round to visitors while the North Rim is closed from December through May. If you’re planning a winter visit to the Grand Canyon, be sure to pack layers of clothing, trekking poles, and emergency supplies since conditions can quickly change.

Greer

The scenic nature of Little Colorado River in Greer in the morning, Arizona

The Little Colorado River flows through Greer, Arizona.

©Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock.com

Located in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Greer is Arizona’s highest-elevation town at 8,356 feet above sea level. Greer sees an average annual snowfall of eight feet — nearly 100 inches. Snowfall can begin as early as October, and the area typically gets at least 10 inches of snow each month from December through March.

The Sunrise Ski Park in Greer is the state’s largest skiing area and is a popular destination for winter recreation. The park offers downhill and cross-country skiing, in addition to snow tubing, snow biking, and sledding. 

While Greer is used to snow, it was walloped by winter weather during the blizzard of 1967. Just a few days before Christmas, the city was blanketed by 8.25 feet of snow that was the result of a slow-moving, high-pressure weather system known as an “omega block.”

Phoenix

Phoenix Maricopa County Arizona

Records from 1898 indicate that Phoenix saw heavy snowfall that year, although it melted before it could accumulate on the ground.

©Amine Abassir, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Although snowfall is a rare occurrence in Phoenix, it does happen. Snow has been reported more frequently in recent years as Phoenix’s suburbs have inched into the higher-elevation areas surrounding the city.

Phoenix has recorded between 0.1 and 0.5 inches of snow in five separate instances from 1917 to 1990. The city’s largest recorded snowfall is one inch, an event that occurred in 1933 and again in 1937. More recently, areas outside of Phoenix received a rare spring snowfall in March 2023.

Summary of Arizona’s Snowiest Places

LocationAverage Annual Snowfall
Flagstaff100 inches
Prescott15-18 inches
Grand Canyon – North Rim142 inches
Greer96 inches
Phoenixless than 0.5 inch


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About the Author

Joyce Nash is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel and geography. She has almost a decade of writing experience. Her background ranges from journalism to farm animal rescues and spans the East Coast to the West. She is based in North Carolina, and in her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two cats.

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