By Buddy Blouin
Around 43 miles north of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base lies one of the greatest mountains for recreation in the Southwest. Named after Sara Plummer Lemmon, the first white woman to climb the mountain while researching plant life and foliage with her husband John Lemmon, Mt. Lemmon remains a popular tourist attraction and a local hotspot for getting back into nature. There are trails to enjoy throughout the beautiful landscape, offering plenty of year-round opportunities for recreation. Residents of Tucson and beyond enjoy Mount Lemmon in AZ for hiking, dining, extreme sports, and so much more. Get to know everything you need before planning your trip.

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Mt. Lemmon Is a Recreation Hub for Tucson, AZ

There are dining and lodging options available at Mt. Lemmon in Arizona, but the main draw continues to be recreation. Visitors can enjoy various hiking trails, including Aspen Draw Trailhead and Mint Spring Trail. Be sure to stay hydrated, leave no trace, and remain on the trails during your trek. Camping is another popular activity in the area. Mt. Lemmon camping can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, including modern campsites around the mountain. Of course, if you are looking for a more traditional camping experience, you may do so at your own risk in non-restricted areas. Molino Basin Picnic Area is available, and a permit will be needed, unlike other areas on the mountain. There are also tolls that may be required to access the mountain, and while many are allowed to use the honor system, those camping could be stopped by authorities to verify.

Is There Snow on Mt. Lemmon?

It depends on the time of year. Mt. Lemmon weather conditions will also play a role, but in the winter months, it’s not uncommon for the mountain to receive snowfall. The Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley, found in the Coronado National Forest, receives an average of around 180 inches of snow per year, making it a great place to enjoy snow skiing, snowboarding, snow skating, and additional snow-related activities. The Ski Valley is the most southern ski resort in the U.S., featuring a total of 20 runs with eight black diamonds

Where To Stay

If full-on camping under the stars isn’t your vibe, there are still many cozy alternatives available. The Mt. Lemmon Hotel and the Mount Lemmon Lodge combine modern amenities with proximity to the natural beauty surrounding Mt. Lemmon. You’ll feel completely immersed while also enjoying your proximity to nature. Various Mt. Lemmon cabins are available to rent through Three Bears year-round or Mount Lemmon Realty Rentals in the winter.

Schedule a Night of Stargazing

The Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory is yet another attraction in the area worth your time. Steward Observatory is the official name, and it features the two largest telescopes available to the public in the Southwest, featuring both the Schulman 32" and the Phillips 24" telescopes. Reservations can be made for anyone ages 7 and up, and the University of Arizona even offers certain programs and special events for things such as eclipses, meteor showers, and CCD photography. Visit the SkyCenter by contacting them ahead of time to reserve your spot. Larger parties of 20 or more and walking tours can be arranged.

Is Mt. Lemmon Open?

Due to the amount of show Mt. Lemmon can receive, it isn’t always open. There are road closures or restrictions for those who are without the right type of vehicle to make the drive at times in order to keep everyone safe. Checking the Mt. Lemmon weather details ahead of time can help non-local visitors and residents alike be informed about the conditions of the mountain and the appropriate way to prepare. Mt. Lemmon continues to be a great place to visit and can accommodate a wide variety of adventures.

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Mt. Lemmon

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