The end of the road is some 40 miles away from Tucson, and the leisurely drive will take approx 2 hours - especially if you take a break at one of the many scenic view points. You will need to fill up with gas before you leave the city as there is nowhere to fill up along the highway. In winter watch for the weather warnings, as only vehicles equipped for snow e.g. with snowchains will be able to continue along the road.
There are a couple of places to eat, and Summerhaven is a great little place to stop. Unfortunately the mountains can be sites of bushfires - in 2003 Summerhaven lost 90% of the properties to fire, however, it is obvious that it hasn't dampened the spirit of the locals!
At the peak is an astronomical observatory at Mount Lemmon SkyCenter. It offers SkyNights - an observing program open most nights of the year.
Don't forget to take your camera on a visit to Mount Lemmon - but just beware that the road can have steep drops to one side for quite a lot of the way, and can be a little scary for those who don't like heights!
The road up the Catalina Highway to the top of Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains takes you through amazing changing scenery. Starting from the Sonoran desert landscape with the Saguaro cacti you rise to Canadian forest zone of pine, fir and spruce as you near the summit. The temparature at the top of the mountain can be at least 20 degrees cooler even on the hottest of days making it a great place to head when the heat burns down in Tucson city. Sarah Lemmon, a botanist, trekked to the top of the mountains with local guides by foot and mule in 1881, and it was named in her honour.
In summer the mountain is an amazing place to camp or just picnic, to walk or fish, or in winter to ski. In summer the ski lifts take you to the very top of the mountain giving incredible views in all directions.
Chair Lift to the Summit of Mount Lemmon
Views from the top of Mount Lemmon
View from one of the scenic points on the Catalina Highway
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