ADOT stresses safe snow play in Arizona's high country

Posted: Updated:
Flagstaff Snow Park on Jan. 19. (Source: Flagstaff Snow Park) Flagstaff Snow Park on Jan. 19. (Source: Flagstaff Snow Park)
Snow near Sunrise Park Resort on Jan. 24 (Source: ADOT) Snow near Sunrise Park Resort on Jan. 24 (Source: ADOT)
Trash left behind by visitors (Source: U.S. Forest Service - Kaibab National Forest) Trash left behind by visitors (Source: U.S. Forest Service - Kaibab National Forest)
Trash left behind by visitors (Source: U.S. Forest Service - Kaibab National Forest) Trash left behind by visitors (Source: U.S. Forest Service - Kaibab National Forest)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Northern Arizona is buried in snow from three storms that slammed the region since last Thursday, and that has Valley residents flocking to the mountains for a little wintry fun. The Arizona Department of Transportation has been keeping an eye on all that traffic and is seeing a big problem.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has been keeping an eye on all that traffic and is seeing a big problem.

"They head to the high country and sometimes they'll stop along Interstate 17 and play in the snow," said ADOT spokesman Peter Corbett. "That's quite hazardous."

Corbett displayed a warning message from ADOT's camera network, sent by the department's traffic operations center in Phoenix to an electronic billboard in Flagstaff, that read, "Don't park on highways/ramps to play in snow."

"You're just too close to the traffic lanes and it's easy to get hit," Corbett said.

Photos taken last weekend show cars parked on the shoulder, blocking a snowplow from clearing I-17.

"And if there's an emergency and we have other emergency vehicles showing up, there's no place for them to pull off," Corbett said.

For snow play out of harm's way, the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau lists a number of designated areas for sledding, tubing and snowshoeing. Those include Flagstaff Snow Park, Thorpe Park, Fort Tuthill County Park and Buffalo Park. In the White Mountains, Sunrise Park, known for great downhill skiing, also has an area for tubing, sledding and snowshoeing.

After that fun, cleanup begins.

Photos from the Kaibab National Forest taken two weeks ago show the mess left behind by visitors. Employees filled six trucks with 1,000 pounds of trash, most of which was sleds.

Get more information about snow play locations at http://en.calameo.com/read/005020746fd5d00ec5bfb.

[RELATED: Don't trash Arizona's snow play areas!]

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