1. Call before you come: Flagstaff is a great place to visit year round, but in the winter, it’s always best to plan ahead and give us a call before you come. For up-to-date winter recreation information call the Flagstaff Visitor Center at 877-878-9377 and check the road conditions at 511 or visit www.az511.com.
2. Milton’s not the only way: Yes Phoenicians, we know that I-17 dumps you on Milton Road and it’s easy to just follow it to HWY 180, but there ARE other ways to get in and out of Flagstaff that will save you from sitting in traffic. *Insider tip for visitors: From I-17 exit onto I-40 East, take exit 198 to Butler Avenue and follow signs to Route 66. Turn left on Route 66 and go right on Switzer Canyon Road, which turns into HWY 180. Visitors can download a Winter Recreation Map online at www.flagstaffarizona.org which highlights this alternate route.
3. Don’t just stop and sled: At the first sight of snow, it’s tempting to pull off the road and start sledding on a great hill, but parking is NOT permitted along HWY 180 or along Snowbowl Road. Visitors must use official snow play areas in the Coconino National Forest. Wing Mountain Snow Play Area, Crowley Pit Winter Parking Area, Peak View Winter Parking Area and Walker Lake Winter Parking Area can be accessed off HWY 180. There are also a few locations south of Flagstaff to sled and build snowmen: Fort Tuthill County Park and Mormon Lake Lodge. See Winter Recreations Map online for directions.
4. Be prepared, like a good scout: Before driving in areas with snow and freezing temperatures have a mechanic check the following items on your car: Battery, wipers and windshield washer fluid, heater, defroster, brakes and tire tread. Drivers should also carry a car safety kit with a first aid kit, extra blanket, flashlight and extra batteries, ice scraper, water, high-protein snacks, jumper cables, and a brightly colored cloth to attract attention in case of emergency.
5. Go slow in the snow: Drivers need to be extra cautious on winter roads when snow and ice are present. The number one tip is to reduce speeds and increase the following distance behind other vehicles. Allow extra time for your trip and be patient and cautious.
6. Look like a pro: Stop in downtown Flagstaff at one of our many suppliers for ski, snowboard and snowshoe equipment rentals. This way you can arrive on the mountain with gear in hand and minimize the time from car to slope.
7. Sleep it off: After a full day of snow play, don’t rush back down the mountain, stay overnight in Flagstaff. Winter is technically the “off-season” around here and visitors can find super hotel deals. Check for ski and stay packages, which include lift tickets with your room, or the snow play package complete with hot chocolate and a snowman kit! Making your trip a full weekend getaway will help you avoid those heavy traffic times, too.
8. Don’t forget the gloves . . . and sunscreen: When you pack to visit Flagstaff in the winter, think layers and sun protection. Dress warmly and wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Bring warm pants, short and long sleeve shirts, sweater or sweatshirt, winter coat, hats, gloves, boots and heavy socks. If you can, make sure your outer layer is waterproof. Remember: Even though it’s cold out, you still need to apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses.
9. Warm up by the fire: In Flagstaff there is nothing better than seeking refuge from the cold in front of a crackling fireplace! Looking for the best fireplaces in town to curl up in front of? Try: The lobby of Little America Hotel, 1899 Bar and Grill on the campus of Northern Arizona University, The Flagstaff Mall center court, or Josephine’s Modern American Bistro.
10. For more information: The full 2011-2012 Winter Recreation Guide can be found online at www.flagstaffarizona.org/documents/WinterRec_Guide.pdf. If you need story ideas or other media resources contact the Flagstaff CVB Public Relations Department: www.flagstaffarizona.org