Tucson is a fantastic city with tons of things to do. One of our favorite things is to visit Mount Lemmon. Mount Lemmon is about 1 hour away from Tucson, with an elevation at the summit of 9157 foot. You can get there by taking the Catalina Highway north for about 30 miles. Because of the higher elevation, the temperatures are usually about 20 degrees cooler than Tucson. This can be a very nice break from the high heat in the summertime in Tucson. A few of our favorite things to do while up in Summerhaven(the small town at the top of Mt Lemmon) are:
There is hiking all over Mount Lemmon that is fantastic. A great trail is to take the turn for the Ski Valley, and follow the road past the Ski Valley. It will eventually dead end into a parking lot. Park there, then follow the trails to get to the Fire station that overlooks a large and beautiful valley. This is not generally a challenging hike, however due to the elevation being almost 1 mile higher than Tucson you may feel more winded.
Mount Lemmon has a man-made reservoir called Rose Canyon Lake. It is about 30 miles northeast of Tucson. You get there by taking the Catalina Highway until you see signs for Rose Canyon campground. You will have to pay a small toll, and the lake will be at the end of the road. There are numerous campsites that you can also rent and stay at. The fishing at the lake is decent and they routinely stock it with Brown and Rainbow trout. Rose Canyon Lake provides a much more natural fishing experience than the urban lakes around the city of Tucson.
In Summerhaven, there is a place called Ski Valley, and in the winter time you can go skiing and snowboarding there. Some winters they will also have snow tubing as well. They usually have multiple trails open, and it can be very fun. The best part, you are skiing only an hour away from the city of Tucson! In the summertime, they still run the ski lift and for a small fee will let you ride them up to the summit of the mountain. There is a fantastic place to overlook the valley and enjoy the views.
The Mt. Lemmon Sky Center Observatory is situated at the top of the mountain on the road that goes past the Ski Valley. There are 8 telescopes there, and the observatory is an infrared observatory. They do allow public tours from Thursday through Sundays in the evenings. The tours are 5 hours long and provide a light dinner with an astronomy lecture and guided navigation through the 32 inch and 24 inch telescopes.
There are several restaurants and a bar up in Summerhaven. The restaurants all have outdoor seating areas for enjoying the cooler summer temperatures when trying to beat the Tucson heat. The general store up there also makes their own fudge, which is delicious. The cookie restaurant also has fantastic cookies and pizza.