As fires continue to range throughout Arizona, Summer camping plans in Arizona will need to be put on hold. Multiple national forests are closing to visitors due to increased fire danger.
Both the Coconino and Kaibab national forests closed to the public on Wednesday because of the “fire danger, dry conditions, and persistent wildfire activity during a time when firefighting resources are sparse,” according to the Forest Service.
“A full forest closure means that the public is prohibited from entering any part of Coconino National Forest at any time. Only those with private inholdings will be allowed access to their property, as well as personnel providing utility support where necessary, and firefighters performing their duties,” a news release said.
On Tuesday, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest announced that due to extreme fire danger and dry conditions during a time when firefighting resources are stretched thin, the entire forest would close for public safety, beginning Thursday, June 24 at 6 a.m.
Prescott National Forest will close for the same reasons beginning Friday, June 25 at 8 a.m.
Tonto National Forest said Tuesday they will be implementing a Stage 3 Forest Closure on Friday but some areas will remain accessible.
Arizona Snowbowl announced Monday it would temporarily close at the end of the day Tuesday, June 22, due to Coconino County’s current fire danger.
Slide Rock State Park, near Sedona, and Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, near Payson, both part of the Arizona State Parks & Trails, are also closed due to nearby wildfires.
There are currently at least 15 wildfires in Arizona with more than 400,000 acres actively burning. Several of these wildfires have current evacuations in place.
Those camping or visiting the national forests should leave before the closure goes into effect. Forest personnel will attempt to reach as many people to inform them of the closure.
Officials say that anyone with plans to visit the forests over the next “several weeks,” should cancel their plans. The closure will remain in place until wildfire danger subsides.
“This closure will not be rescinded until sufficient precipitation is received to adequately reduce the risk of wildfire, and hot, dry weather conditions are no longer forecast to continue,” a news release said. “In short, this closure will continue until conditions are such that the closure can be lifted.”
Violating the closure and fire restrictions could lead to a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or up to six months in prison, or both.
Wildfires with Evacuations
GO: Sycamore Canyon, areas south of Forest Service Road 535 off Forest Service Road 231. The community of South Garland Prairie SET: Kachina Village, Forest Highlands, Pine Dell, University Heights, Mountain Dell, Flagstaff Ranch, Westwood Estates, west of I-17 and south of I-40, Camp Navajo, Garland Prairie, Sherwood Forest A Red Cross shelter is open at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff. The address is 3950 E. Butler.
Evacuations: Pine, Strawberry, Hunt’s Ranch
GO: Despain Ranch and Antelope Valley.
SET: Chevelon Retreat and Ranches.
READY: All of Heber and the Bigler area.
GO: Dripping Springs, Wind Spirit, Hagen Ranch, Slash S Ranch, Government Springs.
READY: El Capitan East and West, Six Shooter, Icehouse Canyons, Superior, Globe, Miami, Claypool, Central Heights, Pinto/Carlotta, Skill Center, Fairgrounds, Schulze Ranch, Ray Mine, Top-of-the-World, Bellevue, Oak Flat, Beverly Hills, Riverside, Kearny, Winkelman, Hayden, Battle Axe area.
GO: All Black Rock Road area residences, and all residences in the Klondyke-Aravaipa corridor in Graham County.