Mount Lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains
Published May/June 2014

Summer Getaway: Mount Lemmon, Arizona

Find relaxation — and cooler temps — in the Santa Catalina Mountains

BYBryn Bailer
One way to flee triple-digit summers is to head for Arizona’s hills — or, in this case, the Santa Catalina Mountains — for an alpine oasis where sunbaked saguaros give way to lush spruce-fir forests and towering ponderosa pines.
 
Mount Lemmon, located within the Coronado National Forest, attracts an estimated 1.5 million visitors annually seeking out the crisp air and temperatures that delightfully fall 30 degrees as you ascend.
 
The Great Outdoors
If you’re into hiking, rock climbing, or sport rappelling, there are a wealth of trails, canyons, and cliffs on Mount Lemmon waiting to be explored. Camping, fishing, and picnicking areas are in abundance, and the mountain boasts a small ski area, which becomes a verdant hiker’s paradise and offers scenic chairlift rides during the summer months. 
 
Whether it’s a family camping trip or a luxurious stay you’re after, you’ll find many options here. Area campgrounds operate on a first come, first served basis, so it’s a good idea to call the Santa Catalina Ranger Station before making the trek up the mountain. However, rental properties — ranging from small, rustic cabins to two-story chalets with wraparound balconies — must be reserved in advance. 
 
Mount Lemmon’s diverse flora and fauna will keep bird-watchers and photographers busy. Rose Canyon Lake and Campground, for example, is a family-friendly site with a trout-stocked lake, while Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Area features horse corrals and access to hiking and mountain biking trails. Each June millions of ladybugs converge at Ski Valley during their annual summer migration, covering tree trunks and rock outcroppings like red and black frosting.
 
Heavenly Summer
At the top of the winding Catalina Highway — or 8,200 feet in elevation, to be precise — sits Summerhaven, a picturesque village where small-town America lives on. Here, the Fourth of July still merits a parade, mom-and-pop businesses serve up homemade fudge and pies baked from scratch, and volunteer firefighters host Labor Day pancake breakfasts. 
Mount Lemmon’s small ski area becomes a hiker’s paradise during the summer
Mount Lemmon’s small ski area becomes a hiker’s paradise during the summer
Welcome to AAA Highroads
To enjoy customized local content, please enter your ZIP Code below.
Zip Code
AAA Arizona proudly serves AAA members in the state of Arizona
×