Winter Sports

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It's true! Arizona does get snow! The high country on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest receives ample snow each year for various types of snow play. The only question is when that snow arrives. During most winters, skiing and snowmobiling can first occur around Christmas but sometimes the snow simply doesn't show up until January. Popular winter activities include snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, and ice fishing.

Although there are few designated snowmobile trails, roads that are inaccessible to other vehicles at this time of year offer many miles of ready-made trails. One recommended snowmobile route, however, is from the Williams Valley area west of Alpine on FR 249 to Big Lake. A reminder that Highway 273 from Big Lake to Sunrise is closed to all traffic this winter, including snowmobiles.

There are four areas that are recommended for cross-country skiing although there are endless other routes that could be selected: Hannagan Meadow south of Alpine, Williams Valley west of Alpine, Pole Knoll and Greer west of Springerville, and Forest Lakes west of Heber.

Some of the finest downhill skiing in the entire Southwest can be found at Sunrise Park Ski Area between Eagar and Pinetop-Lakeside. Sunrise is a modern facility and can provide the visitor with everything from lodging to babysitting.

Winter Camping in the backcountry. Snowshoeing opportunities exist throughout the Forest but can be particularly fun when combined with ice fishing at Woods Canyon, Willow Springs, or Luna lakes. It will take snowmobiles to access the other good ice fishing lakes such as Big Lake, Crescent Lake, Chevelon Canyon Lake, and Bear Canyon Lake. Ice fishing is most convenient at Nelson Reservoir since its accessible by automobile.

There is an area in Williams Valley west of Alpine that is very popular for tubing. This site offers opportunities to sled, toboggan, or tube down the slope. Additionally, forest users often venture out to their own favorite locations.

Road and driving conditions can be hazardous in the winter so please be prepared. We recommend that all vehicles, even 4-wheel drives, have a set of tire chains. Bring extra food, water, warm clothes, and tell somebody where you are going so that searchers can more easily find you should you become stranded.