Winter Passes Through Red Rock Country in Sedona Arizona

Shnebly Hill Snow Sedona Arizona
There is the old saying about the weather in Arizona - something to the effect that if the weather doesn't quite suit your taste, give it five minutes and it will change.  February is one of the more fickle months when it comes to the weather in red rock country, and while it may take a bit longer than five minutes for the forecast to shift, the variation in conditions can be dramatic.
 
Above: Snow on the red rocks at Schnebly Hill.

During the month of February, Sedona is caught in the cusp between the ending days of winter and the beginning of spring. The town, at an elevation of 4300 feet, is located between high mountains to the north and a desert valley to the south. Oak Creek Canyon climbs close to 3000 feet, topping out in the pines of the Coconino National Forest at the base of Flagstaff at almost 7000 feet. The valley floor gently slopes downward 1500 feet toward Cottonwood and Camp Verde.

Oak Creek TrestleRight: High water at Oak Creek below the historic trestle.

One day the cliff walls and towering red rock formations are shrouded in fog, and a continually pouring rain blesses the drought-parched land. The next may offer up stark sunlight and a frigid
breeze.

Snow In Slide Rock Sedona Arizona
 
Left: Slide Rock State Park at the base of Oak Creek Canyon.

By late afternoon, heavy clouds build darkly overhead, dumping snow deep into the recesses of the surrounding mountains and transforming Oak Creek Canyon into a starkly beautiful winter wonderland.

Below in the Verde Valley, the mix of rain and snow and subtle changes in temperature alter the typically arid landscape. Arroyos and culverts swell with crimson-tinged muddy water, and the smaller creeks are transformed into white water and swirling eddies.

Red Rock Arroyo Sedona Arizona
Right: A rush of water flooding a normally dry rock bed near Beaver Creek.

Just give it a day. The sun returns, temperatures rise, and the creeks are once again flowing gently. The dusting of snow on the mesa top and glistening rivulets of snowmelt on the red rock is all that remains of the passing winter storm.

Roadrunner In Sedona Arizona
 
 
Left: Roadrunner

The promise of spring is just around the corner.

Gateway to Sedona's graphic designer, Malou Leontsinis, and staff writer/editor, Terree Duncan, capture winter in red rock country.