(Posted Dec. 14, 2011 at 3 p.m.) Snowy weather has arrived in the Rim Country and White Mountains of Arizona leaving some roads impassable on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
Drivers and winter recreationists should call the local Ranger Station to inquire about conditions of Forest Service roads. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is a source of road information across the state and can also be reached by dialing 511.
To provide for public safety, ADOT has posted no parking signs along Highway 260 from the Mogollon Rim east towards Forest Lakes. Parking along this stretch of highway to play in the snow has become popular but is very dangerous. Violators will be ticketed by Department of Public Safety officers.
ADOT has closed Highway 273 from the Forest/Reservation boundary to Crescent Lake, and Highway 261 from the Point of the Mountain overlook at milepost 45.1 to Crescent Lake. Highway 191 south of Alpine is not plowed at night, on the weekends, or during snow storms, and is sometimes temporarily closed by ADOT when road conditions are especially hazardous.
National Forest System Roads (NFSR) are not plowed, and most will become snow-packed and impassable, but remain available for winter recreation activities such as snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snow play. Travelers and forest visitors are urged to be prepared for winter conditions, use caution, and to find out current conditions before accessing the roads.
NFSR 59 in Prime Canyon will remain closed with gates and barricades for the winter. Forest Service construction and maintenance crews attempted to reopen the road to motorized use, but conditions caused by the recent snow and rain have prevented the necessary equipment access into the area.
“There’s a rock slide across NFSR Road 59 just east of the barricade on the south end. With the recent snow and rain events, the road is impassable,” stated Debbie MacIvor, Forest Engineer for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
“We had every intention of opening as much of NFSR 59 to motorized use as we could safely, but Mother Nature had other ideas” stated Jim Zornes, Acting Forest Supervisor. “We know how important motorized access to the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests is to our communities and forest users, and we remain committed to making that happen as soon as we can do so safely. But further work on NFSR 59 will have to wait until spring,” added Zornes.
(Source: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests)