on April 19, 2007
Mt. Lemmon is the peak of the Catalina Mountain range which forms the northern border of Tucson, Arizona. Mt. Lemmon is over 9,000 ft high and is a welcome respite from the heat and bustle of Tucson. Up in the mountains, you can enjoy a true fall season with changing leaves and snowfall in the winter. Ski Valley is also located atop the mountain and offers skiing and winter sports when snowfall allows.Mt. Lemmon suffered severe fire damage in the Aspen fire in 2003, but has made incredible strides in recovery since then. This is partially due to the large numbers of people who have decided to include Mt. Lemmon and Ski Valley in their vacation and day trip plans and have contributed much in the way of tourism dollars to their reconstruction and renovation.Despite the damage from the fire though, the natural beauty is shining through. From the bottom of the mountain and the majestic sahuaros that line the roads and hills to the aspen and pine forests at the top, Mt. Lemmon offers a widely changing landscape as you ascend to the top. The drive itself is incredibly beautiful and can be made in under an hour. There are many turnoff spots along the way where you can stop and take in the scenery and make photos as well. On the way to the top, you have several options as to how to spend your time. There are restaurants and shops from Summerhaven to Ski Valley where you can spend your time and money as well as numerous picnic spots off of the road on the way up. At the top at Ski Valley, the ski lift is in operation most of the year to take people up to observe southern Arizona from the Phoenix area all the way down towards Mexico. Also at Ski Valley is the Iron Door restaurant, which is supposed to be very good, although I have not tried it. Across from the restaurant is the ski lifts, another restaurant and a little shop that serves some of the best chocolates, fudge and confectioneries that you'll ever taste.Mt. Lemmon is located about 35 miles up the mountain from Tucson. To get there, simply take Tanque Verde Road to the Catalina Highway and then go straight up until the top. Temperatures generally average about 25-35 degrees cooler than in Tucson, so be prepared. And there is no gas on the Mountain, so make sure you go up with enough to get back down with.
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