WILLIAMS - With the help of plentiful snowfall, Elk Ridge Ski and Outdoor Area got an early jump on the ski season. The ski area atop Bill Williams Mountain opened for business Thanksgiving weekend, offering skiing and snowboarding.
Owner Tammy Fountain said that all beginner and upper-beginner runs are currently being machine groomed on a 40-inch base and estimated that, at higher elevations, the base is as much as 60 inches.
"We're only operating one lift right now, which is the rope tow, but we have some more adventurous snowboarders and skiers that will hike up to the upper trails, which are open, you just have to hike to them," Fountain said.
Hikers can take advantage of a boot packed trail, said Fountain. After every snow the trail is track-packed with grooming equipment to keep higher ski trails accessible.
Fountain said some of the area's higher reaches and the more advanced runs are ungroomed.
In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Elk Ridge features a tubing hill that is operated year round. Children's and adult size tubes are available. In the summer, tubers take advantage of an artificial tubing carpet installed at the end of 2006. The carpet is sprinkled with water much like a gigantic Slip 'n Slide.
"It's a specially designed material for tubing," Fountain said. "It's used throughout Europe and back east they use it a lot. It's called Powderpack."
Both the ski area and the White Stag restaurant are open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Fountain said. Beverage service at the restaurant begins at 9:30 a.m. with the grill open at 11 a.m.
"We'll be open for all holiday Mondays, of course," Fountian said. "The Martin Luther King holiday coming up. We'll be open throughout the winter season until the snow is gone. Hopefully we'll have enough coverage to be open during the Williams spring break and then we'll try to get some of the Phoenix kids to come up as well."
Fountain said negotiations are continuing with the Forest Service to open a second lift to the top of the ski area. A meeting with the Forest Service is scheduled for this week.
"We're trying to establish some guidelines that will possibly allow us to operate under certain conditions but we do have all the equipment," Fountain said.
Elk Ridge is located on Ski Run Road, or Forest Service Road 106, off Perkinsville Road south of Williams. The office can be reached at (928) 814-5038 for more information. Elk Ridge Ski and Outdoor Area can be found online at www.elkridgeski.com.