With snow forecast Friday in Arizona’s high country, please don't take lightly the power and unpredictability of a winter storm as well as the potential for it to leave you stranded on a highway.
Arizona Department of Transportation snowplows will be out in force, but driving conditions are hazardous during winter weather. A highway can close suddenly if enough snow falls in a brief period or if there are crashes, slide-offs or both. That happened during Monday’s snowstorm, when northbound I-17 climbing out of the Verde Valley closed for several hours due to a serious crash.
Although most roads on the forest remain open including Forest Road 300, recent snow in the Rim Country has made some forest roads impassable. For public safety and resource protection, The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests’ Black Mesa Ranger District (BMRD) has implemented wheeled motor vehicle restrictions, which affect access to Woods Canyon Lake and the Mogollon Rim Visitor’s Center. Both locations have been gated closed due to icy conditions but are still open to non-motorized modes of travel including skis, snowshoe, and foot.
With snow forecast Saturday in Arizona’s high country and possibly reaching lower elevations than usual, please don't underestimate the power of a winter storm or overestimate your ability to negotiate highways covered with snow and ice.
Arizona Department of Transportation snowplows will be out in force, but driving conditions are expected to be hazardous during the storm. A highway can close suddenly if enough snow falls in a brief period or if there are crashes, slide-offs or both.
As winter weather conditions approach and the chance for snow increases, the Flagstaff Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest will be closing a number of forest roads beginning tomorrow for the safety of visitors and to protect forest roads.
The Santa Catalina Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest has temporarily closed and locked gates on seasonal roads and day-use sites in the upper elevations of Mt. Lemmon due to weather-related unsafe driving conditions. The main road leading up the mountain, the Catalina Highway, will remain open but may close periodically due to weather-related issues.
Recent winter storms brought plentiful amounts of snow to the White Mountains creating a prime time for winter recreation on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. There are plenty of activities to do in the winter to help squelch that cabin fever, but it’s imperative to be prepared and recreate responsibly.
With recent snowfall transforming much of Arizona’s high country into a winter wonderland, snow-play sites should become busy destinations this weekend. That means travelers can expect heavy traffic and delays around some popular areas.
Those heading to snow-play sites along US 180 should be prepared to spend extended time in winter conditions and be ready for traffic backups returning to Flagstaff that build as the afternoon goes on.