Arizona News – In an effort to protect forest roads from damage, the Coconino National Forest has started closing forest roads in the Flagstaff Ranger District (FRD) for the winter and will continue closing roads over the course of the coming weeks across the forest in higher elevations.
While the FRD has closed forest roads north of Interstate 40 along U.S. Highway 180 and U.S. Highway 89, many forest roads currently remain open due to low levels of snow and precipitation.
Seasonal road closures on each district of the Coconino NF occur at different times each year and depend on weather forecasts and road conditions.
Forest visitors are encouraged to check forest road statuses prior to any excursion by visiting the Coconino NF’s Forest Roads Status web page.
Forest roads may close at any time as winter weather progresses. These closures are implemented for both the safety of visitors and to protect forest roads during inclement weather from being destroyed with ruts and soil erosion caused by heavy vehicles.
Additionally, winter road conditions can lead to stuck or damaged vehicles, causing risk to motorists.
Many forest roads lack cellphone service, which creates a hazard for drivers who may find themselves stranded in dangerous temperatures and conditions with no way to call for help or assistance.
While closed forest roads will be inaccessible to motor vehicles, they will remain open to foot traffic.
Motorists are reminded to avoid driving on open roads that appear overly wet and/or icy, regardless of closure status so that the roads can be protected through the wet season.
Drivers are also reminded to be cognizant of changes in elevation. Many forest roads — such as Schnebly Hill Road, Forest Road (FR) 214, FR 618 and FR 229 — straddle both desert and mountain conditions, and motorists should prepare for drastic changes in driving conditions. These changes include temperature drops, snow accumulation and other road conditions that may require four-wheel drive.