A summer retreat, Mount Lemmon is approximately 30 degrees cooler than nearby Tucson, which is only about one hour away. Located in the Santa Catalina Range, Mount Lemmon is surrounded by the Coronado National Forest and home to a town befitting of the name, Summerhaven. Explore various trails, eat homemade fudge, and even rent a cabin for a weekend away in the pines. On your way to the Mount Lemmon's Peak, you'll drive along the 27-mile sky islands scenic byway, which is more than just a way to get to the top.
In 1881, a dark-haired, white woman by the name of Sara Allen Plummer dared to climb the mountain during a time when tensions were high in the West between gunslingers, the US Calvary and local American Indian tribes. Her husband, John Gill Lemmon, was a self-educated botanist, and the two came to Tucson with the ambitious task of cataloging the plants of Southern Arizona. When they made it to Mt. Lemmon’s summit, they christened it after Mrs. Lemmon to commemorate her being the first white woman to have climbed it.
During the summer, hike the trails, camp under the dark skies (there’s an observatory on the mountain because of the particularly dark skies), fish, bird, or even rock climb. Definitely get there early, as this is a popular retreat from the heat.
When snow is on the ground, head up to the 8,000-foot elevation for skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snowshoeing.
The University of Arizona Mount Lemmon SkyCenter observatory houses the US’s largest dedicated public telescopes and hosts year-round nightly stargazing programs. After a day of exploring various life zones, dive into the cosmos and experience the vastness of the universe with a clarity most people never get to see.
Mount Lemmon has three campgrounds: Rose Canyon Lake Campground and Picnic Area, Showers Point Group Site, and Whitetail Campground. All the campgrounds have picnic shelters and spacious campsites, with most able to accommodate more than 50 people. There are no hook-ups available for RVs, but water faucets and toilets are available. If you prefer the feel of a cozy cabin, there are some private residences in and around Summerhaven that can be rented.
For hours and pricing, please visit the website.
Santa Catalina Ranger District
5700 N Sabino Canyon Rd
Tucson, AZ 85750