Winter is here in Southern Arizona. The mornings are frosty, and the winter rains brings needed moisture to the ground. If you’ve lived in the region for any length of time, you’ll know our winters are mild compared to a lot of the country, my relatives in Minnesota remind me of that each year. While the pleasant, above freezing weather is wonderful, I often want to play in the snow as well. Barring the super rare snow days in the desert, I must venture out of town if I want to experience a winter wonderland.
If you know the right places you can find snow in many mountains in the Sky Island Region. However if you want a quick adventure with fairly reliable roads, read about these two locations where you can go see snow this winter.
Everyone knows that Mt. Lemmon is the place to go see the snow. If you live in the Tucson metro area it is a quick drive to a wintery wonderland. If the roads are open to the public, it is easy for everyone to go have a snowball fight or built a snowman. And when you are cold and hungry, roll into Summerhaven for good food and hot drinks. However, its accessibility is also its downside. Crowds flock to Mt. Lemmon so expect heavy traffic on Catalina Highway and be prepared to have a lot of company. Remember to be safe and be respectful to everyone on the mountain.
Mt. Graham and the Pinaleños
Mt. Graham is another Sky Island mountain I know to have lots of snow. Take a two-hour drive over to the base of the Pinaleños, and take the Swift Trail as far as the gates allow. The long drive is worth it however, the only population center close to Mt. Graham is Safford and compared to Tucson and Mt. Lemmon it feels like you will have some privacy. However, since it is not as visited, road conditions are variable, and often the road is closed when the pavement ends in the winter.
Before you go anywhere, check the road conditions to make sure it is safe for you to drive to. Read Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) advise on how to travel and how to get your car ready for your adventure.
If you have a favorite spot to go play in the snow, comment below if you want to share it!