FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - A very popular snow play area, Wing Mountain in Flagstaff, will not be open for business this winter. That's because the concessionaire who ran the facility for the last several years pulled its permit.
Long lines of cars with people waiting sometimes hours to get through Flagstaff to the sledding area is mostly to blame. Also, recreation management officials spend several days every month cleaning up broken sleds and trash left behind after visitors were there.
According to a news release from the Coconino National Forest, at the request of Recreation Resource Management (RRM), the Forest Service canceled the concessionaire’s special use permit on June 21 after RRM removed all its structures and amenities, returning the site to its original state.
The snowplay area will not be managed by any concessionaire this coming winter. Forest Road 222B -- the mile-long road used to access the area -- will be closed to vehicles during the winter months. No parking will be available in the area, and parking is always prohibited along U.S. Highway 180.
The Forest Service plans to meet with community members to discuss the types of snow play areas they want and to also discuss the traffic congestion concerns. It's not clear if the Forest Service will seek another concessionaire to run the facility in the future.
According to the Forest Service, Wing Mountain Snow Play Area is a challenging and difficult recreation site to manage. The site was only open in the winter when there was enough snow for sledding. It frequently closed its gates when it reached its 500-car capacity. Up to 1,200 vehicles would pass in and out of the play area on winter weekends.