The combination of a winter holiday weekend and recent snow can be a magnet for those looking to ski, sled or toss a few snowballs.
If you’re heading to play in the snow, be ready for the possibility that you’ll see heavy traffic and delays, especially on the trip home, in popular areas such as US 180 northwest of Flagstaff.
Leave prepared to spend more time than you may expect in winter weather. The Arizona Department of Transportation’s tips for winter driving in Arizona’s high country, available at azdot.gov/KnowSnow, include dressing for the cold and packing coats, blankets, gloves and scarves. Make sure you have a fully charged cellphone and plenty of water and snacks, and keep your tank half to three-quarters full at all times.
Highway shoulders are for emergencies only, so resist the temptation to stop there to play in the snow. Exit highways and park in designated areas. Among the reasons: Plows throw snow and ice far from the roadway, other drivers may be distracted by your vehicle and first responders may need to use the shoulder.
Those heading to snow-play sites along US 180 may want to consider making an earlier start home, as on busy days traffic builds toward Flagstaff throughout the afternoon. When they reach Flagstaff, drivers taking Interstate 17 south can save time by following a marked alternate route to Interstate 40 at Butler Avenue, via Switzer Canyon Road and Route 66, and then heading west to I-17. A map of this route is available at FlagstaffArizona.org (follow the Winter Recreation link).
Information on designated snow-play areas around Flagstaff is available at FlagstaffArizona.org (follow the Winter Recreation link) or by calling 1.844.256.SNOW.
The free ADOT Alerts app, available for iOS and Android devices at ADOTAlerts.com, will notify users about weather-related delays and closures. In addition, it will alert those along US 180 if delays back to Flagstaff appear likely.
For the latest highway conditions around the state, visit ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov or call 511. ADOT’s accounts on Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) and Facebook (facebook.com/AZDOT) are excellent sources of information and interaction.