27 miles from Tucson, but worlds away: Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway

We are always up for a drive on a good scenic byway in our travels (I mean, who isn’t?), and have certainly seen our fair share since starting traveling in May, both intentionally and unintentionally. While in the Tucson/Saguaro National Park region, we intentionally sought out the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway which, climbing 6,000 feet in elevation, looked like a doozy and would give us a little cool off from the warmer weather. So we left our camper at our BLM site outside of Tucson and set on our way.

The byway, also referred to as the Catalina Highway, begins northeast of Tucson and stretches 27 miles one-way (we came back the way we came, otherwise I believe it takes you pretty far out of your way!). The drive begins in the Sonoran desert and the scenery drastically changes en route to the 9,157 foot peak as you pass valley and city views, hoodoos, fantastic lookouts and lands in a cool mixed conifer forest at the top. Not to mention, there are some mind-bending views of the winding road as you climb! Near the top, there is an observatory, some trails, and even a restaurant, with some surprising residents living up in this somewhat remote paradise.

Following are some photos of the drive that we’d like to share. 🙂

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