The Best of Tucson: Mount Lemmon

Embarking on a summer retreat never looked better than from the summit of Mount Lemmon, at an outstanding elevation of 9,158 feet. It truly feels like you’re on top of the world as you overlook the Sonoran Desert and Coronado National Forest — hence its loving title “Sky Island.”

To give you some backstory, Sara Allen Lemmon and her husband, John Gill Lemmon, came to Tucson in 1881 with a job to catalog the plants of Southern Arizona. The two self-educated botanists made a remarkable trek to the top by horse and foot with rancher E.O. Stratton as their guide. Once they made it to the top, Stratton suggested naming the mountain after Sara Lemmon because she fared the mountain so impressively.

On that same journey to the sky, with some modern modifications, of course, you can expect 27 miles of scenic byway along the Santa Catalina Range. As you climb the summit, you’ll notice the transformation from lowland desert to lush vegetation all around. And once you hit the peak, you won’t want to turn back.

What makes Mount Lemmon so alluring during the summertime is its cooler elevation. Hiking along the trails or camping under the night sky is much more enjoyable when the temperature is 30 degrees lower than nearby Tucson. For many Arizonans, Mount Lemmon is a welcomed respite from the scorching desert floor.

On the mountain, family and friends can enjoy a plethora of activities while they take in the one-of-a-kind views. Gorgeous hiking trails, AZ Zipline Adventures, delicious fresh fudge from the General Store, and spectacular exploration of the solar system at the acclaimed SkyCenter Observatory are some of the few pleasures. If you would like to hike through Mount Lemmon, you can find several trail options on the U.S. Forest Service website.

If you ever decide to visit during the winter, you can shred the slopes from Mount Lemmon’s Ski Valley. And, if you’re not skiing or snowboarding, no problem because Ski Valley and its Sky Ride are open all year. Take the Sky Ride straight to the top for an excellent hike or to take in the scenery.

When visiting the mountain you’ll probably want a place to stay, and Mount Lemmon offers multiple lodging options — three campgrounds and various cabins and hotels around neighboring Summerhaven. At each campground, you will find picnic shelters, spacious campsites, and restroom facilities. Find more information about camping and lodging on Mount Lemmon here.

Mount Lemmon is a can’t-miss opportunity, no matter if you live in Tucson or if you’re just passing through. There’s so much to explore and experience as you take a rest from the city and immerse yourself in the natural surroundings.

Stay awhile and discover more about Tucson and its desirable land by contacting me, Rick Sack, today! I’ll help you find the property of your dreams.

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