Monday, November 27, 2023

On Top of Mount Lemmon

Paul has talked a lot about the beauty of Mount Lemmon outside of Tucson and I've read several blogs of people who have made the drive up the mountain, so this became a must do for me.

Once again, I'm posting a lot of pictures of this beautiful part of our country. Paul took most of these pictures. He has a much better eye than I do for what makes a great picture. 

Mount Lemmon takes its name from one of the first women to reach the summit, Sara Plumber Lemmon who trekked to the top of the mountain with her husband by horse and foot.

One of the signs at a lookout over the valley says, "On a clear day you can see the Gila National Forest, in New Mexico, 110 miles away from here."  We weren't lucky enough to have that clear a day. But the views were still amazing.


This picture is over looking the San Pedro River Valley.

Mount Lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains at an elevation of 9,159 feet. People living in Tucson and surrounding areas make the drive up especially in the summer to escape the heat of the valley. It is also known as Babad Do'ag or Frog Mountain to the Tohono O'odham. 

 Lots of fantastic rock formations including hoodoos. Enjoy.

You can see the road down below where we were.

Construction on the Catalina Highway began in 1933. A federal prison camp was established at the foot of the mountains specifically to supply labor for the construction of the highway. During WWII, the camp became an internment camp and the Japanese Americans were forced to work on the road. The highway was not completed until 1950, 17 years later.  

I found it interesting how the landscape changed as we drove to the top. The Forest Service describes the drive as a biological and ecological tour from Mexico to Canada in only 27 miles. You drive through saguaro cacti, mesquite trees and cholla plants of the Sonoran Desert, pass through stands of oak, juniper, and pinyon pine, enter pine forests and finally strands of fir and aspen on the cooler, north facing slopes at the top. Still some beautiful colors high on the mountain.


We had lunch at the Iron Door Restaurant at the top of the mountain. Let me warn you, their bowls of soup are huge. I should have had the cup size. And it was so good. The ski resort at the top of the mountain is the southernmost ski resort in the continental United States.

Rusty stuff for Diana

We also made a stop at the General Store for some really good fudge. And Paul made a friend while we were there.

After the long drive, Paul needed a good treat, so a stop at Cold Stone Creamery was in order. 

Truly a wonderful day. More adventures tomorrow.


  1. Thanks for the interesting facts about Mount Lemmon! Mike has ridden up the mountain with friends on motorcycles but I've never been up there--time to go!

  2. Nice shots of a pretty drive. While staying in Tucson for a month in Feb 2017, we made the drive and really enjoyed it -

  3. Beautiful pictures. This ride is on our bucket list.


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