by Blake Herzog
As snowy as Greater Prescott can get, we still don’t reliably get to enjoy classic winter sports like skiing, ice skating, snowboarding and the like.
Sledding is a different story.
Almost anyone can enjoy it, and you can use almost anything to do it, which makes it much easier to drop anything you’re doing and go where you need to when the stars and storms align to make it a possibility.
Many of our prime sledding spots are in Prescott National Forest, where you can drive down Walker Road, Senator Highway, Copper Basin Road and to the White Spar Campground on Highway 89. Mountain Valley and Fain parks in Prescott Valley also are possibilities, and of course there are great snow play areas in Williams and Flagstaff. q
Sledding as an activity is pretty intuitive, but there are a few pointers:
Know your vehicle
Sledding is the mother of all winter inventions, with many of us growing up while using such basic “sleds” as a cafeteria tray, sturdy piece of cardboard or an inner tube or pool toy, while grownups have been bringing everything from kayaks to yoga mats to the hill.
These will work but make sure you and everyone else using them know the risks involved and how to mitigate them, such as always sledding feet-first and rolling off before the sled crashes.
It’s a better idea to use a product designed for the task, whether it’s a snow saucer or, best of all, a full-blown sled you can brake and steer. Never overload the sled.
This is for your comfort as well as safety. Securely bundling up with sweaters and warm pants, coats, gloves, socks and snow boots will allow you to enjoy your sledding adventure for as long as you want to, as well as protect you against frostbite.
Avoid wearing cotton because it can trap frigid water next to your skin, and be careful if you wear a scarf, keeping it tucked inside your coat so it won’t get caught underneath.
Top it off with a helmet to protect against head injury.
Pick the right slope
You must find a hill free of visible obstacles such as trees, rocks and fences, and be wary of snow drifts, which are especially likely to be concealing boulders or rocks when you’re in Northern Arizona. Also make sure it has a wide landing area that won’t send you flying into a street, parking lot or a lake
Avoid hills populated by aggressive sledders or skiers, and don’t try one that’s too steep or icy for your comfort level.
Nobody should ever be pulled on a sled behind a car, ATV or other motorized vehicle. They won’t have control over their movement, and the driver may not see it if they get into trouble.
Make it a family occasion
Always supervise children and teens as they’re sledding, and take this chance to be a big kid yourself!