Coronado National Forest Mount Lemmon, Arizona 85619Ski Valley website
During World War II, a group of skiers made up of Lowell Thomas, a noted journalist and adventurer, a local forest ranger, and many Davis Monthan servicemen which included Thomas’ son, later a Governor of Alaska, and Art Devlin, a future Olympic ski jumper and Television commentator, formed the Sahuaro Ski Club. The well-known cartoonist, Paul Webb, created a patch and membership certificates for the club showing a skier wrapped around a saguaro cactus. Thomas sent honorary memberships to dozens of friends, and famous personalities around the world, making membership a tongue-in-cheek must. A ski gala was held that first year at the Arizona Inn with many of Thomas’ friends in attendance. A Forest Service lease was obtained, an old model “A” with its tires removed propelled a rope tow and Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley had its beginning.
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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.