Mount Lemmon

The Catalina Highway climbing Mount Lemmon, Arizona, USA

Mount Lemmon is a famous "sky island" that is approximately a 45-minute drive from Tucson, Arizona @ E Tanque Verde Rd & E Catalina Hwy. The mountain is at an elevation of 9,157 feet which makes the overall climate very different from that of the surrounding desert area and makes it a popular tourist destination for those in the Phoenix and Tucson areas, particularly in the summer months. Mount Lemmon is located in the Coronado National Forest, is the home of Ski Valley, is the location of the town Summerhaven, and is the site of an astronomical observatory.


Flora and fauna

Typical flora seen along the Butterfly Trail
Canyon tree frog (Hyla arenicolor) in Molino Basin


On average the climate at the summit is at least twenty degrees cooler than it is at the base. Please note that this means ample amounts of snow can, and do, fall on the mountain during the winter months.

Get in

The only way to really reach the mountain is on the Catalina Highway that begins in Tucson. During the winter months it is advisable to use vehicles that have four wheel drive and/ or snow chains as the road can become very slippery.


Visitors are required to purchase a Coronado Recreation Pass ($5/day, $20/year), which also is good for use in Sabino Canyon as well as Madera Canyon (listed in South Central Arizona).


The town of Summerhaven, which has a year-round population of 100 that swells up during the summer months. Most of the town is being completely rebuilt after the 2003 Aspen Fire destroyed most of it.


Finger Rock Canyon in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area
Sabino Canyon





Rose Canyon Lake, by Rose Canyon Campground

There are a number of campgrounds in the mountains. Be sure to get a permit at the foot of the mountain, just before Molino Basin near milepost 4. Camping fees are in addition to travel permit, self-pay at entrance.

Stay safe

Dehydration is very easy on the mountain and altitude sickness is very common so be sure to drink plenty of water in order to avoid both! Take a pack of gum with you on the highway because Tucson's elevation is at around 2500 feet and Mount Lemmon is over 7000 feet.

Go next

Once you reach the top of the mountain, you can take a shortcut that will take you to Oracle but it is recommended that only 4 wheel drive vehicles use it.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 26, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.