In Part 1, we'd just decided at the spur of the moment to ride up to Mt. Lemmon after spending the morning birding at Agua Caliente Park. We usually plan things out in advance, but a little spontaneity can be fun, right? From reading articles like this one on Tucson cycling routes, we knew that the 26-mile ride up the Catalina Highway to the mountaintop was a very popular (and challenging!) training ride for both professional and amateur cyclists in the area. Lance Armstrong used to ride it, for instance -- 'nuff said.
But today we'd be taking the easy way out and driving this scenic byway. We could immediately see why so many flock up this way. In the winter, it can be a place to ski if the weather is right; and in the summer, the over 8000' elevation provides a respite from Tucson's brutal heat. Plus the views are breathtaking! It was a bit hazy and semi-overcast on this day, so we didn't take as many photos as we might have on a crystal-clear day. Still, it was undeniably beautiful.
In case you're wondering, when we got up to the highest point, we did get to see just a bit of snow left over from the last cold snap.
When we got up to the small tourist town of Summerhaven near the summit, we stopped to grab a bite to eat. This cute "Cookie Cabin" looked promising...
It was interesting to watch the temperature as we ascended and descended the mountain. Here's the difference.
On the way back down, we (along with others) got stopped by the sheriff for a bit to wait for a commercial being filmed along the road -- probably one of those car ads with sweeping mountain vistas.
We saw many parking areas with marked hiking trails along the way as most of the drive is in the Coronado National Forest. We will definitely have to come back here for some hiking another time.
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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