School may have started in some areas already, but there is still plenty of summer left to cool off atop Mt. Lemmon. Mt. Lemmon is a 365 day vacation getaway. Snow in the winter and a cool respite from the sweltering desert heat in the summer. Those of you who have been here for more than a year, have surely been up to Mt. Lemmon. So, what's there to do up there?
First, it is not just about the arrival. The drive or bike ride itself is spectacular. OK, it is not Yellowstone National Park or Yosemite. But given that our Sky Islands exist in the Sonoran Desert is noteworthy in itself. Mt. Lemmon summit rises above the desert floor at 9000 feet elevation. To get there you must drive through no fewer than 4 biosystems, ranging from the desert floor to pine covered forests. Mt. Lemmon is part of the Coronado National Forest system which stretches from Mt. Lemmon to the Mexican border. The Arizona Trail runs through it. You can locate several access points while traveling up to the top.
Stop at the Cataracts, spectacular after a rain. Stop at Windy Point on the way up or down. Hike out on the rocks. Watch for rock climbers.
Half way up the 26 mile drive is Windy Point, popular with Rock Climbers. On a good day, (non windy) you will find top ropers and free climbers scattered about these rocks.
The lower campgrounds are closed during the summer as are the upper ones in the winter. Rose Canyon Campground has a lake stocked with fish. Spencer campground, which was scorched by the Aspen fire of 2003 is coming back. It is large and quiet. On the Northeast side of the road, near Mt. Bigalow is primitive camping. In the drier months, fires of any kind are not allowed, including cigarettes and marijuana. Read a review of the campsites here.