Coronado National Forest Mount Lemmon, Arizona 85619Official Website
While most other campgrounds in the Catalina District are closed in winter and open in summer, Molino Campground and Picnic Area have a season that is just the opposite. Because it is located lower on the slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Molino is open during the late fall, winter, and early spring. Located at 4,370 feet in elevation, this campground lies within the desert grassland and open oak woodland ecosystems.
The weather here is pleasantly mild then, and any of those seasons is a good time to visit. Campsites are located in savannah, desert grassland dotted with oaks. Along the banks of Molino Creek, which flows only during and immediately after rain or snowmelt, species such as cottonwood, Arizona live oak, and mesquite provide a scenic setting for the campsites they shelter. Views are dominated by nearby rugged, rocky hills. Roads in the campground are paved.
Take the Catalina Highway off Tanque Verde Road in Tucson. Drive 4.2 miles to the Forest boundary and continue 5.7 miles to the campground. All campsites are adjacent to paved roads and are accessible by two-wheel drive low-clearance vehicles, such as the family sedan.
See all hotspots at Mt. Lemmon
Approximately an hour's drive from Tucson's city center, Mount Lemmon is a favorite day trip and camping spot for Tucsonans. It's a beautiful outdoor escape, ideal for hiking, biking, rock climbing, picnicking, sunset watching, sledding, and skiing.
Mount Lemmon is usually 20-30 degrees cooler than Tucson, so you can find cooler temperatures there in the summer and a beautiful layer of snow in the winter, along with vibrantly colored leaves in autumn.
With a summit of 9,159 feet, Mount Lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The mountain was named for botanist Sara Plummer Lemmon, who trekked to the top of the mountain by horse and foot in 1881.
Mount Lemmon is a peak in the Catalina mountain range, surrounded by Coronado National Forest.
To reach Mount Lemmon from Tucson, turn off Tanque Verde Road onto Catalina Highway. Take Catalina Highway as far up the mountain as you desire to go!
On your way up the mountain, you may want to stop at Windy Point Vista (Mile Marker 14). This popular lookout point has bathrooms and is a terrific spot for photos.
Note that the road up the mountain is curvy with very few straight sections. If you or anyone in your car is prone to motion sickness, plan ahead by bringing bags, mints, cold water, snacks, or stomach-settling medications. It also helps to not drive on an empty stomach.
Take Catalina Highway northeast from Tanque Verde Road. For desert and mountain species, stop at picnic and campgrounds (Molina Basin, Bear Canyon, Rose Canyon Lake, and others) as you drive the narrow, winding road to high elevations.