Winter Snow in Payson and Whispering Pines
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Each year November through March, visitors to Payson, Arizona get a chance to experience high country snow just an hour and a half North of Phoenix. Whether you're looking for a family snow-day or a wintery, holiday get-away, Payson offers an accessible, winter escape!
Our family moved to the area over 11 years ago, and we've been frequent visitors ever since we visited for the first time. We were blown away by the climate, the people, and the outdoor activities. We fell in love with the forest and moved to Whispering Pines four winters ago (this is our 5th). Our mini ranch sits at 5380 feet in snow country, almost a mile high exactly, and Arizona snow has become a way of life for us in the winter.
The Best Months for Snow in Payson
In our experience living here full time and from the years that we visited for snow before moving here, your best chances of finding snow here in Rim Country are from December to March. While some years are earlier or later and snow levels change quickly with elevation - these months are the most reliable. If the weather forecast is calling for snow down to 5000 ft you can bet we'll see some here in Whispering Pines.
How's the Snow up There?
We have a dry climate here and see plenty of white, powdery snow if the temperatures are lower in the teens and 20s. If the weather is warmer in the high 20s and low 30s we'll see wetter snow that's perfect for making snow folk.
In our experience we've seen that several inches is the norm for our snow falls. That said, we've seen as much as three feet of snow in a few days here in Whispering Pines. Obviously the larger the weather system the more we see, so it's difficult to say what's "normal" - but it seems less than a foot is pretty much average per snow fall. Either way, we've posted snow photos here to illustrate the points - and we don't recommend coming to the area unprepared if snow is in the forecast.
Given the 20-30 degree temperature swings here in Rim Country we often see a very dry snow fall turn wet very quickly. 4-Wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles are the norm for those of us living outside of Payson, and even those can slide or get stuck in the back-coutry if the snow gets deep. ICE is also a major factor since we melt so much snow during the day. We recommend to all our guests they wait till at least mid-morning before venturing out to give the ice that forms overnight a chance to thaw (or get salted) in the morning.
The good news about coming to Payson for snow is you'll often get to experience the white-stuff and then see it disappear very quickly!
Getting In and Getting Out
For visitors, our quick melt-off makes it challenging to time a snow-visit. But the upside when you get it right is that you may experience driving in without chains, a bunch of snow with the family for a weekend, then a drive back out on manageable roads. The snow (even several feet of it) tends to melt quickly here compared to Flagstaff or other parts North of town on the Rim.
So is there snow on the ground in Payson? We're running a live weather camera here at the BNB so you can check the trends and view current images to see if there's snow on the ground before you come up.
Houston Mesa Road was paved several years ago and local crews plow the road when we get any real snow, so getting in and out of our place tends to be pretty doable. We use tractors and a few shovels to handle our driveway (which isn't passable without a 4x4/all-wheel unless it's plowed), but always recommend 4x4 in the winter.
Experience the Snow in Payson
Unlike many mountain rentals with no yards to speak of, our little ranch offers a 5 bedroom, upscale, cabin with acres of room and hills for snow sleds, snow toys or snow tubing, and plenty of room for snowman building and photos along the wintery East Verde river. We hope you'll join us for what we've come to love as a beautiful snow experience we look forward to each year!