Flagstaff, AZ (December 1, 2011) – As winter weather moves in and snowplay opportunities arrive, Coconino National Forest managers are taking several measures to provide for the safety of winter visitors and protect forest resources so all visitors can have a fun and safe adventure in the snow. Forest Managers encourage snowplayers to Know Before You Go: take the time to learn about the conditions and closures in place before heading out.
- Safety and Etiquette Reminders: Snowplay is an extremely popular activity in the high country; Expect heavy traffic and delays. Bring emergency winter supplies such as water, flashlight, and extra winter clothes
- Take your trash with you! Forest employees remove thousands of pounds of litter every year, only to see thousands more left behind by careless users. Take all waste items when you go; leave the forest cleaner than when you arrived.
- Road Closures– Many forest roads are seasonally closed due to wet or snowy conditions, especially in higher elevations.
- Closures will occur as conditions warrant. Watch for posted closure signs, call one of the forest offices, or check the Coconino National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/coconino/alerts-notices. Drivers are reminded to avoid driving on saturated surfaces to prevent road damage, soil erosion and getting stuck.
- Area Closures and Notices
- Wing Mountain Snowplay Area will be opening as soon as snow becomes more frequent and allows for adequate coverage. The area is located 10 miles northwest of Flagstaff off of Highway 180 on Forest Road 222B. This is a fee site managed by Recreation Resource Management under a Special Use Permit with services including parking management, snowplowing, restrooms, and trash receptacles. For conditions at Wing Mountain call 602-923-3555 or visit http://www.snowplayaz.com/ .
- Cinch Hook snowplay area off Highway 87 near Happy Jack is closed for the season due to safety and sanitation concerns.
- As of December 1, the Griffith’s Springs day use and parking area located off Highway 89A, just west of Kachina Village, will be closed for the season. Other seasonal area closures can also be found on the forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/coconino/alerts-notices.
- Seasonal Motorized Vehicle Closures– Two areas off of Highway 180 are subject to a “Seasonal Motorized Wheeled Vehicle Closure” from December 1 – March 31:
- 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.
- Backcountry Travel on the San Francisco Peaks – When the ski area is open, winter backcountry travel into the Kachina Peaks Wilderness from Arizona Snowbowl or off Snowbowl Road requires a free seasonal backcountry permit. Backcountry permits are now available in Flagstaff on weekdays at the Peaks Ranger Station, 5075 N. Highway 89, and the Coconino National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 1824 S Thompson Street. Permits will also be available at Arizona Snowbowl’s Agassiz Lodge weekend mornings when the ski area opens.
- Winter recreationists who plan on snowshoeing or skiing or snowboarding in backcountry areas should think “preparedness.” The most important aspect of preparedness is to provide someone with detailed trip plans, including exact locations and expected trip length. Avalanches are common in the San Francisco Peaks, those attempting backcountry travel should be trained in avalanche awareness and know the most current conditions. The best source for information on current snow conditions in the San Francisco Peaks backcountry is the Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center www.kachinapeaks.org.
For additional winter recreation information, contact the following: Coconino National Forest Supervisor’s Office at 928-527-3600, the Flagstaff Ranger Station at 928-526-0866, or the Flagstaff Visitor Center at 928-774-954.