Snowy weather has arrived in the Rim Country and White Mountains of Arizona leaving some roads impassable and prompting a temporary winter closure of other roads on the Apache-Sitgreaves and Coconino National Forests. Drivers should call the local ranger district to inquire about road conditions and winter road closures.
On the far west end of the national forest in the Rim Lakes Recreation Area, Forest Road (FR) 300 is gated and closed for the winter at the junction of Highway 260 and Rim Top Trailhead west to the Coconino/Sitgreaves forest boundary, and north to Wiggins Crossing on FR 225, and FR 34, and FR 169 at junctions of FR 100 and 119.
There is a parking area at the junction of Highway 260 and FR 300 for visitors to use to start their cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or other winter activities.
Willow Springs Lake is gated and closed for the winter, as is the Rim Visitor Center parking lot and both sides of FR 171, at the junctions of Highway 260 and the Young road.
These areas also remain open for winter recreation activities such as snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowplay.
To provide for public safety, the Arizona Department of Transportation has posted no parking signs along Highway 260 from the Mogollon Rim east toward Forest Lakes. Parking along this stretch of highway to play in the snow has become popular but is very dangerous, and violators will be ticketed. For winter recreation information in this area, call Black Mesa Ranger District at (928) 535-7300.
Cross-country skiers can use the groomed trail systems at Pole Knoll Recreation Area on Highway 260 just west of the Greer turnoff, and also the Squirrel Spring Recreation Area trail system near Greer on Highway 373, about two miles from the Highway 260 turnoff. For additional winter recreation information in this area, call the Springerville Ranger District at (928) 333-4372.
On the Alpine Ranger District, Buffalo Crossing and Luna Lake campgrounds are gated closed for the winter, and most FS roads will become snow-packed and impassable, but remain available for winter recreation activities such as snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowplay.
Located just outside of Alpine on FR 249 is the Williams Valley Winter Sports area. Williams Valley visitors can sled and go tubing at Toboggan Hill with only a very short climb. There are also 13 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, offering loops rated as easiest, more difficult and most difficult.
At the far west end of the Williams Valley Winter Area is the snowmobile staging area, a gateway for miles of traveling perhaps to the Big Lake area, or heading south toward the Hannigan Meadow area.
Located along Highway 191 about 23 miles south of Alpine is the Hannigan Meadow Winter Recreation Area. This area offers nine miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, and the opportunity for miles and miles of snowmobile travel. For additional winter recreation information in this area, call the Alpine Ranger District at (928) 339-5000.
The southernmost portion of the forest is the Clifton Ranger District, accessed from the Springerville/Eagar area by traveling south on Highway 191.
The scenic Coronado Trail (Highway 191) is a twisting, winding road with numerous blind curves and travelers are urged to be especially cautious during winter. Located near the forest and San Carlos Reservation boundary, Forest Trail 45 to Malay Gap is gated and closed for the winter. For winter recreation information in this area, call the Alpine Ranger District at (928) 687-8600.
Winter weather is forecast for colder, snowy conditions across much of the Coconino National Forest. The Forest Service takes several measures to provide for the safety of winter visitors and protect forest resources.
• Road Closures: Many forest roads are seasonally closed due to wet or snowy conditions, especially in higher elevations. Watch for posted closure signs, call one of the Forest Service’s offices, or check its Web site listed below. Drivers are reminded to avoid driving on saturated surfaces to prevent road damage, soil erosion and getting stuck.
Forest roads already closed to motorized access are: All forest roads along Highway 87 and Forest Highway 3, Lockett Meadow Road 552 and Elden Lookout Road 557.
• Seasonal Motorized Vehicle Closures: Two areas off of Highway 180 are subject to a “Seasonal Motorized Wheeled Vehicle Closure” from Dec. 1 through March 31. These areas are closed to wheeled vehicles. The Wing Mountain Vehicle Closure encompasses the cross-country ski trails, the snowplay area, and includes Forest Roads 222, 519, 519A and 222B beyond Wing Mountain parking area. The Flagstaff Nordic Center Vehicle Closure includes the trail system and Forest Road 151E. These seasonal closures are implemented in order to provide managed winter recreation areas.
• Snowplay Area Notices: Wing Mountain Snowplay Area is located 10 miles northwest of Flagstaff off of Highway 180 on Forest Road 222B, this site may be opening soon if enough snow falls. The cost per vehicle is $10.
The Cinch Hook Pit area is currently closed to winter visitors and all snow recreation. For updates on the Cinch Hook area, please contact the Mogollon Rim Ranger District at (928) 477-2255.