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Weekend Getaway to Mount Lemmon

9,000 feet above the city, Mount Lemmon is a winter wonderland.

Standing thousands of feet above Tucson, Mount Lemmon offers a chilly getaway from the Arizona heat. The crisp air and gorgeous snowfall make this not-so-hidden gem the perfect destination for a weekend adventure. We highlighted our favorite places and activities to keep in mind as you craft your wintry itinerary.

The scenic drive on Mount Lemmon Highway is dotted with places to pull over and take in the natural beauty of the area. Sitting around 7,000 feet, the Windy Point Vista pullout offers a stunning birds-eye view of the city and is an ideal location for photos.

Mount Lemmon is known for being home to all things outdoors. Their many hiking trails will allow you to explore the forest scenery and stretch your legs after the twisty drive up. According to, the most popular route is the Aspen Trail and Marshall Gulch Loop Trail. This 4.2-mile excursion is ranked moderate on the website’s scale and offers stunning views of the mountain’s natural beauty.

NOTE: Always check the forest-service website to see which trails are open. QAs well, new trails are being added and others retired. 

Sitting at the top of the Catalinas is Mount Lemmon, Summerhaven, and Ski Valley. This is the ideal local destination for winter sports lovers. Ski Valley doesn’t make its own snow, so its ski season is entirely dependent on the conditions of the mountain. Some years the slopes have opened for skiing as early as October. Other years it doesn't open at all for snowsports.

Even if there’s no snow on the ground, there’s still plenty to do! Open year-round, Ski Valley offers scenic rides on its ski lift, hiking trails, ski, and snowboard rentals, and lessons for all ages. When you’re ready for a break on the slopes, stop by the Motherlode Gift Shop for their memorable collection of souvenirs. 

Summerhaven might be small, but this town still offers plenty of unique places to shop. The Mt. Lemmon General Store is stocked with adorable trinkets, delicious homemade fudge, and all the camping supplies you need. According to their website, they even offer a webcam to track road conditions. 

Getting hungry? Visit the Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin and try one of their delicious plate-sized cookies. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, this family-owned restaurant serves up pizzas as well. Their pet-friendly patio will ensure that no member of the family is left behind in the fun. 

Much has changed on the mountaintop. If you have not been to Summerhaven for a few years you might be surprised by the extensive rebuilding of homes and businesses, and careful forestry in the area, activities driven by recent forest fires.

As the sun begins to set on an action-packed day, wind down by visiting the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon Skycenter. This observatory hosts a five-hour program complete with an educational lecture, dinner, and a unique stargazing experience that’s sure to leave you in awe. Tickets can be purchased online at

After a long day exploring Mount Lemmon and the town of Summerhaven, the perfect place to rest for the night is the Mt. Lemmon Hotel. After construction delays caused by both the pandemic and fires, this small business opened its doors in April of 2021. These private cabins are spacious enough for the whole family (yes, pets included!), and even include a fully equipped kitchen. Located in the heart of Summerhaven, all of its attractions are within walking distance. 

Get ready to break out your winter coat! For more information on all the fun activities that Mount Lemmon has to offer, visit their website at

Looking for a deeply personal wander (and occasional run) through the Catalinas? Thoughts past, present and...

Frog Mountain Blues is our guide. And yours.

With images and words from two of our great Catalina Mountain artists: Charles Bowden and Jack Dykinga. You will never look at Romero Canyon or Pima Canyon the same. Or any part of our epic mountains. Frog Mountains they were. And might still be. Get in there!

  • See you next year, summer