Ski season underway at Sunrise

A local group of Apache Crown Dancers perform a ceremony at the base of the Sunrise Ski Mountain in eastern Arizona  at opening day for the 2023/24 season. (Photo/Sunrise Ski Resort)

A local group of Apache Crown Dancers perform a ceremony at the base of the Sunrise Ski Mountain in eastern Arizona at opening day for the 2023/24 season. (Photo/Sunrise Ski Resort)

GREER, Ariz. — Visitors who enter the Sunrise Park Resort are greeted with the Apache word, Dagot’ee, meaning welcome. The resort is believed to be one of the only two tribally owned and managed ski areas in the country.

The White Mountain Apache Tribe has owned and operated Sunrise Park Resort in Arizona since 1970, originating from former and longtime chairman Ronnie Lupe and several other tribal citizens. It’s the only ski resort on tribal land, located north of the tribe’s sacred Mount Baldy.

The Sunrise Park Resort receives nearly 21 feet of snow annually with 20,000 to 25,000 guests visiting during December. Although peak snowfall isn’t until January, Sunrise Park Resort ensures an early opening by employing the use of an advanced snowmaking infrastructure at the end of October.

“The WMAT (White Mountain Apache Tribe) takes great pride in offering guests from around the world the opportunity to visit the tribe while also enjoying world-class outdoor recreation. On opening day this season, Sunrise featured a local group of Apache Crown Dancers, who performed a ceremony at the base of the mountain,” according to the resort.

The resort consists of three mountains, Sunrise Peak, Apache Peak and Cyclone Circle. During the winter the resort offers skiing, snowboarding, ski biking, tubing and cross-country skiing.

Sunrise Park Resort is an all-season mountain adventure destination and offers activities such as scenic chairlift rides, zip lining, a climbing wall, dining, hiking and fishing in the summer. As well as being Arizona’s only lift-served mountain bike park.

Next summer the resort is opening the Sunrise Apache Alpine Coaster, the second coaster of its type in Arizona, third in the region and the first tribal-owned mountain coaster. Operation will be available for the summer and winter season for families of all ages.

The resort prominently features their logo, a Crown Dancer, historical Apache artwork and photos inside the many day lodges and other facilities.

“As one of only two tribally owned ski resorts in the country, and the only one on tribal land, Sunrise is proud to display the resort’s heritage throughout the property. This begins with our name, which comes from the ‘Sunrise Dance Ceremony’ performed by a group of Crown Dancers as a purity and coming-of-age ceremony for Apache girls,” the resort said.

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