Imagine Our Story Destinations: Mt. Lemmon

Looking to escape the intense summer heat? Adventure to Mt. Lemmon and connect with nature while enjoying cool, fresh mountain air!

Mt. Lemmon is the highest point of the Santa Catalina Mountains at an elevation over 9,000 feet. The Santa Catalina mountain region is also known by the traditional Tohono O'odham name, Babad Do'ag meaning “Frog Mountain” for its dome-like appearance resembling a giant sleeping frog.

Mt. Lemmon was named after Sara Lemmon, a recognized botanist, artist, teacher, and library enthusiast who climbed the mountain peak in 1881 with her husband to collect and study plant specimens. To this day, Mt. Lemmon calls to adventurers eager to explore the natural wonders of the region!  

Mt. Lemmon can be reached by driving 29 miles up Catalina Highway from Tanque Verde Rd. Along the scenic journey, there are pullout spaces to pause and admire awe-inspiring views and fascinating rock formations. As you travel from the base of the mountain to the summit, you’ll discover an incredible transition from desert landscape to the pine and fir trees of the Coronado National Forest.

Before starting your adventure, consider downloading the free Mt. Lemmon Science Tour app created by the University of Arizona. The app acts as a tour guide narrating science stories that highlight the biodiversity occurring within the changing levels of elevation.

Wondering what to do once you reach the summit? Mt. Lemmon is a popular destination for outdoor recreation activities including: camping, rock-climbing, bird-watching, trail-hiking, and picnicking. Visit the website for the Coronado National Forest  to learn more about campgrounds, amenities, fees, and safety measures. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen!

Mt. Lemmon also provides an ideal site for astronomical viewing at the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter which houses two of the largest telescopes available for public outreach in the Southwest. Novice and experienced stargazers alike are invited to enroll in the astronomy programs at this mountain top observatory.

The small community of Summerhaven on Mt. Lemmon is a restful place where you can leisurely stroll, visit gift shops, and dine. Cookies, pies, and fudge, are among the tasty treats that can be found in Summerhaven!

A simple nature walk with family on Mt. Lemmon can be a wonderful way to bond and inspire children to explore the world through all their senses. In preparation for your adventure, invite your child to create their own nature journal to record the interesting things you discover together. The nature experiences you share create memories that become fun stories to tell!  

Find out more about what's happening at the Library this summer.