Areas To Play In Snow Fading Fast

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While the Rim country enjoyed its first white Christmas in several years, opportunities to play in the snow are limited and fading faster than Frosty the Snowman.

One of the favored local hangouts for sledding and tubing, Cinch Hook snow play area, is not even open. The 10-acre gravel pit just north of Strawberry will be open on weekends when sufficient snow is on the ground to make it safe.

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Play in the snow while you can. Forest Service officials say it is fading fast. Dress in layers, play safely and let someone know where you are going and when you should be back.

"We got about a foot, but it's already shrunk down to maybe about six inches," said a Coconino National Forest spokesperson. "We need at least a foot-and-a-half to open that area. It usually opens around mid-January."

But all is not lost.

"There are some side roads between the 260 and 87 junctions around Clint's Well," the spokesperson said. "ADOT usually clears a little area off the road where people can park and there's lots of little hills to play in the snow."

Conditions are a little better in the Christopher Creek area, where plenty of snow remains on the ground according to local resident Marlene Hagen.

"There's lots of snow, plenty to slide down a hill," Hagen said. "When we came home from Payson Christmas Day, there were people stopped all along the way.

"The snow is just wonderful, especially over toward Tonto Creek. It's clear and sunny and gorgeous."

A spokesperson at the Payson Ranger Station declined to recommend specific areas in the Tonto National Forest.

"We just tell people to go out and find their own spot," she said, "but Coconino has more snow than we do."

Both the Payson Ranger Station and the Blue Ridge Ranger Station cautioned people not to venture into restricted or remote areas.

"You can't go where it says ‘No Parking' or ‘No Entrance,'" the Coconino spokesperson said. "Otherwise you can go just about anywhere."

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