Mount Lemmon doesn’t have a website.
Which, I guess, makes sense, since it’s a mountain. Although that didn’t stop Mt. Rainier or even Camelback. Maybe the difference is that they’re both the main event in their respective parks. Mt. Lemmon, on the other hand, is just one impressive part of the impressive Santa Catalina Mountains and extensive Coronado National Forest.
It’s right outside Tucson, but, as much as Phillip and I like hanging out in that area, I’ve never been on Mt. Lemmon itself. Tucson is a 1.5 hour drive, and then it takes another hour to wind your way up the mountain, so it kind of requires its own designated trip.
Which is happening soon, because my dad thought we (he, Mom, Phillip and I) needed to take a day trip before Phillip goes back to grad school and
disappears for 9 months / can’t do anything fun / gets much busier.
We decided to go to Mt. Lemmon since my mom hasn’t been there either. We’ll drive around, picnic, and maybe take a hike. But probably a short one, because the elevation at the top is about 9,000 feet. That is significantly higher than Denver. It’s actually closer to La Paz, Bolivia’s 11,000+ feet.
Side note: Thinking about this made me wonder about all the high-altitude places I’ve been and how they compare to each other. So I made a little, roughly-to-scale chart. Maybe I’ll do a better one later, where I actually write legibly and measure the lines. Maybe.
Side note to the side note: I’m thinking of titling my chart “Great Heights” or “Altitude is Everything” or “Elevations I Have Known and Loved” or maybe just “Places I’ve Been High.”
Really, the point is that I’m gonna be moving slow up there in the thinner air.
Driving from the Tucson desert to the pine-covered top of Mt. Lemmon takes you through climate zones equivalent to driving from Mexico to Canada.
Mt. Lemmon is one of the sky islands, a poetically-named category of mountains in the Southwest U.S. and Mexico that have dramatically different environments than the areas around them. They have remarkable biodiversity, including plants and animals you normally wouldn’t find in the region.
My favorite is the coatimundi, a mammal that’s native to Central America but also inhabits the sky islands. When we went to Chiricahua National Monument (also sky island territory) a few years back, I got kind of
obsessed focused on trying to spot one in the wild. It hasn’t happened yet, but, during the trip, I’ll definitely be on the lookout.
PS I’ll be posting info from my Craft Camp presentation soon.