L o s t D u t c h m a n

Visit the Regions | Southwest | Pacific | Gulf Coast | Go to the Map


Winter Travel

You will find phone numbers posted here with updated road conditions for the Four Corners states as winter approaches. In the mountainous regions, winter can arrive as early as September and snow still falls on higher elevations in June.

We have listed telephone numbers where you can get up-to-date road conditions and weather information for the Four Corners states. Remember that this information is subject to change. You should check the reports and confirm that the numbers are in operation before leaving on your trip. Keep the numbers with you so you can check conditions in winter-weather situations.

We have also included this page about Texas Roadside Assistance.

Arizona Department of Transportation Trailmaster
Road Conditions

Colorado Department of Transportation
Travel Conditions

New Mexico Highway Hotline
800-432-4269 (road conditions and closures)

New Mexico Medical Crisis Center
800-432-6866 (report highway accidents
or medical emergencies)

Utah Department of Transportation
Road Conditions

Copper Canyon Warning

On Wednesday, November 18, 1998 the Houston Chronicle reported a train robbery in Copper Canyon in which a tourist was killed and several were injured.

Mexican officials reported that the train had not been robbed in three years. However, there have been a growing number of incidents in the region due to an ever-widening economic gap and increased tourism.

Flash Flooding in Slot Canyons

A slot canyon is a deceptively dangerous place. Slot canyons are most often found in the red plateaus of Utah and Arizona. They are considered by many hikers and photographers to be great playgrounds.

The forces which created the magnificent sculpted rock walls can be deadly. While hikers may see blue skies in their limited view above, isolated storms can create hazardous situations as water pours off of the surrounding mesas and is forced rapidly through the canyon narrows.

Hikers should always look for escape routes in case water begins to trickle along the floor of the canyon. The first appearance of water in a slot canyon will usually be several inches flowing rapidly and can be followed by a wall of water blasting through the narrow spaces.

When hiking lengthy stretches, be sure to look for wide spots. Scale a wall and get a good view of the horizon. Look for storms or darkening skies in the distance.

Rains are most frequent in the late summer and early fall months, but flash flooding in the slot canyons can occur at any time of the year.

Never camp in a slot canyon.

A few of the narrow canyons in the Four Corners region are wide enough for vehicles. If you cannot move your vehicle to wide open space, do not remain in your vehicle. The flow of water in these narrow canyons can even sweep away vehicles. Move to higher ground if rain threatens.

Navajo Nation Permits Required

The Navajo Nation is requiring a $5.00 per person fee for hikers, or $10 fee for groups of 2 - 10 hikers. This includes any hiking in the Navajo Nation backcountry, including many slot canyons.

Contact the Ranger Headquarters in Window Rock, AZ (520-871-5341) to find out where permits can be purchased. The permits, however, do not entitle you to hike on individually owned land. Many slot canyons are on private land and you must pay a fee to the owner. These fees can be unreasonable and detour many hikers from the area. Land owners often tell you that if you purchase their pass, you do not have to pay the Navajo Nation fees. This may be correct, but it is questionable. You should check with the rangers.

Navajo Nation laws were not always enforced in the past, but they are being enforced more thoroughly today.

Please note: Navajo Mountain is sacred to Navajo People and should not be trespassed upon by hikers and climbers.

Contact the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department:

P.O. Box 9000
Window Rock, AZ 86515
Phone: (520) 871-6647

Cameron Visitor Center
P.O. Box 549
Cameron, AZ 86020
Phone: (520) 679-2303

Some tour operators have agreements with Navajo landowners and ca take you into the canyons with little of the confusion you may face dealing with the owners on your own. A good place to check on available tours is the Powell Museum and Visitor Center in Page, Arizona.

Sun Exposure Warning

Empty tubes of sunscreen is a problem you should strive for. You should use your SPF #30 or above frequently and liberally. Sunscreen you have conserved is useless to you, and may not be fully effective as it ages.

The sun's rays are damaging to your skin, even in deceptively mild climates. Hiking or boating in cool mountain temperatures or under a canopy of trees can make you unaware of the time you are exposed to the sun.

People with darker skin should also use sun screen. While the effects of exposure to the sun may not be apparent, the dangers associated with ultraviolet exposure still exist.

Wind may enhance the burning sensation that comes with extensive sun exposure. Moisturizers that include Aloa Vera are a good remedy for this.

The sun's rays can also be damaging to you eyes. Sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays should be worn. This is imperative if hiking in snow or light sand. A condition called "snow blindness", or worse, may occur.

Heat Exposure Warning

If experiencing faintness or dizziness as a result of overexertion or excessive exposure to heat, cool down quickly, but not suddenly. Rest in the shade. Place a wet towel over your forehead and head.

Once cool, return to your campsite or lodge. Don't continue recreational activities. Don't continue to hike or boat further away from transportation or medical assistance.

If a person becomes unconsious due to overexertion or excessive exposure to heat, take messures to cool them down with shade and cool water, and seek immediate emergency help. (Tip: a photo reflector, such as a PhotoFlex Litedisc, as well as some auto window shades can be used to protect a person from the sun if no shade is available.)

Dehydration Warning

Be sure to carry plenty of water (two quarts minimum) with you when you hike, even on short day hikes.

If you are from a humid environment, such as the Texas Gulf Coast, you may not be aware of how much water your body will require in a mountainous or desert terrain.

Serious backpacking will require the use of a water purifier and knowledge of reliable water sources in the area you plan to hike.

Your body may not be able to function effectively if you become dehydrated. If you have never experienced serious dehydration, do not take it for granted.

Tornado Warning

Tornadoes are possible during May and June in most Plains States. While they can occur almost any place at any time, they can be considered probable in certain weather conditions during the spring. News vehicles and weather chasers can be seen along Interstate 40 between Amarillo, Texas and the Oklahoma border seeking, or "chasing", the storms.

Experts say, if you sight a tornado, you should pull your vehicle off of the road or highway as safely as possible. Go to the nearest low spot, a culvert or a low runoff drainage ditch beside the highway. Stay flat to the ground until the danger passes.

You should never try to outrun a tornado, as they are unpredictable. A tornado can change shape and direction, and even reappear after leaving the ground. Several tornadoes may also appear at the same time.

Summer Lightning Warning

If you find yourself on a hike when lightning threatens, seek shelter under a lightning-protected, grounded shelter, in a vehicle, or a grove of trees as a last resort. Do not stand beneath a lone tree. Singular trees are more often struck by lightning.

Many parks and archeological sites in the Southwest, where summer lightning storms are frequent, have established grounded shelters along trails and near sites. You should be aware of the location of the nearest shelter as you travel through.

Groups should spread out and crouch. Always avoid high ground and don't hold metal objects, such as golf clubs, bikes or backpack frames. Don't hold battery-operated equipment, such as cell phones or GPS receivers. Don't stay in or near water.

Even if lightning appears to be far away, determine the safest shelter right away. Lightning can travel fifty miles, and storms can build overhead in seconds.

If you feel static in your hair, or tingling, place your hands over your ears, stay crouched and don't touch the ground or any other objects.

Time Considerations

A safe trip on the road or on the trail depends on your ability to stay on course and arrive on time. Be sure to find out the time of sunset if you have traveled to a distant location for hiking or boating. And, be aware of the time zone you are in. You should allow time in your scheduled activities to get back on track in case you fall behind.

Carry a flashlight with fresh batteries in your day pack, especially if there is any chance you will be getting back in the afternoon or close to dark.

Note: The Navajo Nation observes Daylight Savings Time, whereas, the State of Arizona does not.

Print this information to read en route to your destination and keep it with you as you hike, bike or boat.

Packing ListCheck the WeatherWarningsPhoto TipsMetric

Houston Institute | Cultural Crossroads | Terra Incognita | World Music | Contents