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Bucksnort 03-08-2018 08:21 PM

Route to Big Lake
Today, I was told that in May the route to Big Lake by way of Payson to Show Low and Pinetop will likely be closed so the route to take is from the south. Do I have this correct when I say the southern route would be Gilbert to Globe then U.S. 70 to U.S. 191 then north to Big Lake through Alpine?

rbinaz 03-08-2018 09:26 PM

I would assume they mean US 60 to Globe and then 60 North to Show low

M Lopez 03-08-2018 11:22 PM

All roads to Big Lake should be open in May. Currently, Hwy 273 is closed for the winter. It would normally open around April 15 in an average snowpack year, but this is way below average and would expect it to open much earlier than that. The route you take from Phoenix to Pinetop shouldn't matter much any time of year except which part of the Valley you are coming from.

There are roads from the south to Big Lake that are currently "not closed", coming from Alpine, but these roads may have snowdrifts that block access by vehicle. These are typically accessible a bit earlier than Hwy 273.

Bucksnort 03-09-2018 08:59 AM

Sometimes, I prefer a slower more scenic route. Is there a way to head northeast through the reservation to the Big Lake area from Gilbert? If not, the way through Show Low / Pinetop would be my best route but I don't want to drive to that point or to Springerville then south only to find I can't make it to Big Lake, which means I would have to drive back to Globe by way of 60 then pick up 70in Globe then 191 north to Alpine and on to Big Lake.

Please bear with me. I'm new and learning routes and weather.

Seldomseen 03-12-2018 10:16 AM

The 70 to 191 would certainly be considered the slower and scenic route with the Clifton to Hannagan Meadows stretch a road trip of its own.

I think what was meant was first access of the year to Big Lake is typically from Alpine (FR 249) rather than the northern approaches. What you want to do is go straight through Show Low to Springerville on the 60 and then the 191 to the 249 just outside Alpine.

If you are going up to target Big Lake, I would suggest staying at one of the lodges in Alpine. Also, if we were to get a bunch of freaky weather, there are other lakes nearby which would be accessible. I would be really surprised if access were a problem this year though.

Do NOT take off across the reservation unless you know where you are going and have secured proper permits. :)

aztightlines 03-12-2018 05:20 PM

Most have driven the 191 from Clifton/Morenci to Alpine precisely takes approximately 3 hours for travel the 90 miles. Switchbacks, up and over at least 2 mountain ranges - absolutely beautiful, but not an option unless you happen to be completely unconcerned about time.

Heading over through Turkey Creek, hit the 180 between Silver City and Glenwood, NM - then Luna, NM - and go up to Alpine that way. From Tucson, it is a bit longer, timewise, than around through Showlow/Pinetop, but far less traffic and is really a gorgeous drive.

Going through Turkey Creek is slow going, but far better than heading up 191. Agreed with Seldom, forget the dirt road to Reservation Lake through White River/Ft Apache if you are not stopping to fish along the way.

Seldomseen 03-13-2018 09:26 AM

Another possibility is that they were talking about coming in via Beaver Creek and the 24 to the 249F (I think the "F" is the branch which provides access to South and Railroad Coves). Never been in that way early season so can't comment on where the perennial barrier snow drifts may be. This would be Alpine as well.

Bottom line is there is some point where ADOT starts running blades from the 260 and 191 sides and 191 is typically open first.

This image was taken in early April 2006 from the dam:

Bucksnort 03-13-2018 10:12 AM


I think your advice about the reservation is sound.

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