Mount Lemmon

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Babad Doʼag (Mount Lemmon)
View of Mount Lemmon from West Saguaro National Park near Tuscon, AZ.jpg
View of Mount Lemmon from the western side of Tucson
Highest point
Elevation 9,171 ft (2,795 m)  NAVD 88 [1]
Prominence 5,157 ft (1,572 m) [2]
Coordinates 32°26′35″N110°47′19″W / 32.442961983°N 110.788478444°W / 32.442961983; -110.788478444 Coordinates: 32°26′35″N110°47′19″W / 32.442961983°N 110.788478444°W / 32.442961983; -110.788478444 [1]
USA Arizona location map.svg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Babad Doʼag (Mount Lemmon)
Location Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, U.S.
Parent range Santa Catalina Mountains
Topo map USGS Mount Lemmon
Easiest route Catalina Highway
Unpaved road on the north or "backside" of Mount Lemmon Backside.jpg
Unpaved road on the north or "backside" of Mount Lemmon

Mount Lemmon (O'odham : Babad Doʼag), with a summit elevation of 9,159 feet (2,792 m), [1] is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. It is located in the Coronado National Forest north of Tucson, Arizona, United States. Mount Lemmon was named for botanist Sara Plummer Lemmon, who trekked to the top of the mountain with her husband and E. O. Stratton, a local rancher, by horse and foot in 1881. [3] [4] It is reported that Mount Lemmon Ski Valley, on the mountain's northeastern side, receives 200 inches (508 cm) of snow annually. [5]

Santa Catalina Mountains mountain range

The Santa Catalina Mountains, commonly referred to as the Catalina Mountains or the Catalinas, are north and northeast of Tucson in Arizona, United States, on Tucson's north perimeter. The mountain range is the most prominent in the Tucson area, with the highest average elevation. The highest point in the Catalinas is Mount Lemmon at an elevation of 9,157 feet (2,791 m) above sea level and receives 180 inches (460 cm) of snow annually.

Coronado National Forest

The Coronado National Forest is a United States National Forest that includes an area of about 1.78 million acres (7,200 km2) spread throughout mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.



Summerhaven is a small town near the top of the mountain. It is a summer residence for many but there are some year round residents. There are many small cabins most of which were rebuilt after the Aspen Fire of July 2003. [6]

Summerhaven, Arizona Census-designated place in Arizona, United States

Summerhaven is a small unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) on Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson in Pima County, Arizona, United States. As of the 2010 census it had a permanent population of 40. Summerhaven sits at an elevation of approximately 7,600 to 8,200 feet above sea level. Summerhaven is accessed via the Catalina Highway from suburban northeast Tucson, and it is about 24.5 miles (39.4 km) from the base of the mountains to Summerhaven.

Aspen Fire

The Aspen Fire burned from June 17, 2003 for about a month on Mount Lemmon, part of the Santa Catalina Mountains located in the Coronado National Forest north of Tucson, Arizona, and in the surrounding area. It burned 84,750 acres (343.0 km2) of land, and destroyed 340 homes and businesses of the town of Summerhaven.

Mount Lemmon Station Observatory

At the peak is the Mount Lemmon Observatory, which was formerly the site of a USAF radar base of the Air Defense Command, [7] and the building that formerly housed a military emergency radar tracking station for landing the Space Shuttle at White Sands Missile Range. Although the United States military had a presence on the mountain for several decades all their facilities have been abandoned and were given to the United States Forest Service. The area and buildings that makes up the Mount Lemmon Station Observatory are leased from the Forest Service by the University of Arizona. The telescopes on the mountain are still used for astronomical research today by organizations such as the Catalina Sky Survey, the Mount Lemmon Sky Center, [8] the University of Arizona Astronomy Camp program, [9] the University of Arizona, and the University of Minnesota. The educational resources at the top of the mountain make it a unique research and teaching destination.

Mount Lemmon Observatory observatory

Mount Lemmon Observatory (MLO), also known as the Mount Lemmon Infrared Observatory, is an astronomical observatory located on Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains approximately 28 kilometers (17 mi) northeast of Tucson, Arizona (US). The site in the Coronado National Forest is used with special permission from the U.S. Forest Service by the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory, and contains a number of independently managed telescopes.

Space Shuttle Partially reusable launch system and spacecraft

The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space Transportation System (STS), taken from a 1969 plan for a system of reusable spacecraft of which it was the only item funded for development. The first of four orbital test flights occurred in 1981, leading to operational flights beginning in 1982. In addition to the prototype whose completion was cancelled, five complete Shuttle systems were built and used on a total of 135 missions from 1981 to 2011, launched from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Operational missions launched numerous satellites, interplanetary probes, and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST); conducted science experiments in orbit; and participated in construction and servicing of the International Space Station. The Shuttle fleet's total mission time was 1322 days, 19 hours, 21 minutes and 23 seconds.

White Sands Missile Range military testing area in New Mexico, United States

White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) is a United States Army military testing area of almost 3,200 sq mi (8,300 km2) in parts of five counties in southern New Mexico. The largest military installation in the United States, WSMR and the 600,000-acre (2,400 km2) McGregor Range Complex at Fort Bliss to the south are contiguous areas for military testing. On 9 July 1945, the White Sands Proving Ground was established for testing German and American long range rockets. Just seven days later, the first atomic bomb test, code named Trinity was exploded at Trinity Site, near the north boundary of the range.

Catalina Highway

The Catalina Highway, also called the Mount Lemmon Highway, as well as the Hitchcock Highway (after Frank Harris Hitchcock) runs up the Santa Catalina Mountains from the east side of Tucson up to Summerhaven, at the top of Mt. Lemmon. The beautiful, curving road is a favorite drive for tourists, for locals escaping summer's heat and cyclists, and has been recently designated as the Sky Island Parkway, part of the US National Scenic Byway system. [10]

Catalina Highway Forest Highway in Arizona

The Catalina Highway, officially the General Hitchcock Highway, is the popular name for a Forest Highway and scenic route located in Pima County in southern Arizona. Also known as the Sky Island Scenic Byway, the Mount Lemmon Highway and Arizona Forest Highway 39, the Catalina Highway is the only paved roadway providing access to the resort village of Summerhaven as well as various recreational and scientific facilities located near the summit of Mount Lemmon. Ascending from the desert floor in Tucson to near the summit of Mount Lemmon, the short highway gains over 6,000 ft (1.8 km), showcasing a variety of climates ranging from lowland desert to alpine forests. The name sky island comes from the analogy of these mountains being like islands of forest in a sea of desert. It is designated as a scenic byway by the National Scenic Byways Program. and an Arizona Scenic Road by the Federal Highway Administration.

Frank Harris Hitchcock American politician

Frank Harris Hitchcock, was chairman of Republican National Committee from 1908 to 1909. He was then Postmaster General of the United States under President William Howard Taft from 1909 to 1913.

National Scenic Byway Road recognized by the USDOT for one or more of six "intrinsic qualities": archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic

A National Scenic Byway is a road recognized by the United States Department of Transportation for one or more of six "intrinsic qualities": archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic. The program was established by Congress in 1991 to preserve and protect the nation's scenic but often less-traveled roads and promote tourism and economic development. The National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

2010 saw the inaugural running of the Mount Lemmon Marathon. [11]

Mount Lemmon Marathon

The Mount Lemmon Marathon was formerly an annual marathon that takes place in the Santa Catalina Mountains near the city of Tucson, Arizona, United States. The race started near the desert floor and ended at the village of Summerhaven near the top of Mount Lemmon. It was noted for the entire course being uphill, and had an elevation gain of over 6,000 feet (1,800 m). Local television station KVOA described the race as "the only long-distance uphill race in the U.S". It had been described as the most difficult road marathon in the world. Runners ran on the General Hitchcock Scenic Byway and started the race surrounded by cacti near the floor of the Sonoran Desert, and as they climbed the mountain, runners transitioned into lush pine forests near the top of the mountain at over 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level. The New York Times noted that there are other difficult marathons including the Antarctic Ice Marathon which is run on snow and ice south of the Antarctic Circle, the Everest Marathon which starts at the south Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 17,590 feet (5,360 m), and the Pikes Peak Marathon which climbs over 7,700 feet (2,300 m) to the top of Pikes Peak.


The summit of the mountain is approximately twenty degrees cooler than the base. Therefore, large amounts of snow falls during the winter months, making it a cool escape and popular tourist attraction for Tucson and Phoenix inhabitants.

Fees and permits

Catalina Highway charges tolls for parking, camping, and hiking. However, the tolls are only officially charged for people who are camping. Tolls for other events, such as hiking, parking, or grilling, are a part of the honor system. Park rangers will not check for toll payments unless someone is using the park campgrounds. Anyone wishing to sightsee or travel to Summerhaven are not subjected to paying tolls.[ citation needed ]

Back side

Hoodoos, Santa Catalina Mountains Hoodoos, Santa Catalina Mountains.jpg
Hoodoos, Santa Catalina Mountains
Remnants of the 2003 Aspen Fire Remnants of the 2003 Aspen Fire.jpg
Remnants of the 2003 Aspen Fire
Mount Lemmon Ski Valley Mount Lemmon Ski Valley.jpg
Mount Lemmon Ski Valley
Cabins atop Mt Lemmon in Summerhaven Cabins atop Mt Lemmon in Summerhaven.jpg
Cabins atop Mt Lemmon in Summerhaven
Summerhaven, Cookie Cabin Summerhaven, Cookie Cabin.jpg
Summerhaven, Cookie Cabin
This is a stereograph of the Mt Lemmon Highway near Windy Point Vista. Once clicked on, position your eyes about 15 inches from your monitor, and relax your vision so that you are looking at infinity far behind your monitor. The two images will eventually meld into one three dimensional image. Stereograph -Mount Lemmon Highway.jpg
This is a stereograph of the Mt Lemmon Highway near Windy Point Vista. Once clicked on, position your eyes about 15 inches from your monitor, and relax your vision so that you are looking at infinity far behind your monitor. The two images will eventually meld into one three dimensional image.

An unpaved road to the summit on the north side of Mount Lemmon starts in Oracle, which is on Arizona Route 77 north of Tucson. It offers a secondary route to the top. This route is popular with off-road 4x4 drivers and with off-road or dual-purpose motorcyclists. This road ends at the Catalina Highway near Loma Linda. Before the Catalina Highway was built it was the only route up the mountain. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Oracle, Arizona CDP in Arizona, United States

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Mount Graham mountain

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Catalina Sky Survey is an astronomical survey to discover comets and asteroids. It is conducted at the Steward Observatory's Catalina Station, located near Tucson, Arizona, in the United States.

Mount Wilson (California) mountain in California, USA

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Mount Lemmon Survey (MLS) is a part of the Catalina Sky Survey with observatory code G96. MLS uses a 1.52 m (60 in) cassegrain reflector telescope operated by the Steward Observatory at Mount Lemmon Observatory, which is located at 2,791 meters (9,157 ft) in the Santa Catalina Mountains northeast of Tucson, Arizona.

Astronomy Camp is a science summer camp hosted by the University of Arizona's Alumni Association, and run by astronomer Don McCarthy. Many of the early camps took place at the Mount Lemmon Station Observatory atop Mount Lemmon, near Tucson, Arizona. On Mount Lemmon, the campers have access to a 12″, 20″, 40″ and 60″ telescope, and on the nearby Mount Bigelow site, a 61″ telescope.

Mount Lemmon Ski Valley a recreational ski area in the U.S. state of Arizona

Mount Lemmon Ski Valley is a recreational ski area in the U.S. state of Arizona, and the southernmost ski destination in the continental United States. Mount Lemmon Ski Valley is located on the slopes of Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains just north of Tucson, Arizona. It is part of the Coronado National Forest, located near the mountaintop village of Summerhaven. The summit is 9,157 feet (2,791 m) above sea level, and receives approximately 180 inches (4.6 m) of snow annually.

Optics Valley

Optics Valley is a region in southern Arizona, centered on Tucson, that is home to a high concentration of optics companies spawned by research at the University of Arizona. Based on the idea of a technology cluster such as Silicon Valley, Optics Valley is known not only for its optics industry and research but also for the astronomical observatories located in the mountains of southern Arizona where clear skies and isolated peaks make for superior observing conditions.

Catalina Station an astronomical observing facility

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Mount Bigelow (Arizona) mountain in United States of America

Mount Bigelow is a mountain in the Santa Catalina Mountains of Arizona, U.S. It is home to the astronomical observing facility Catalina Station which operates the 61" Kuiper Telescope owned by the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona. It is one of the telescopes used by students at Astronomy Camp.

Sara Plummer Lemmon American botanist

Sara Allen Plummer Lemmon was an American botanist. Mount Lemmon in Arizona is named for her for being the first white woman to ascend it. She was responsible for the designation of the golden poppy as the state flower of California in 1903. A number of plants are also named in her honor, including the new genus Plummera, described by Harvard University botanist Asa Gray in 1882.

C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) Long-period comet discovered on 23 March 2012, by A. R. Gibbs.

C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) is a long-period comet discovered in Leo on 23 March 2012, by A. R. Gibbs using the 1.5-m reflector at the Mt. Lemmon Survey, located at the summit of Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona, USA. Initially, the object was considered to be of asteroidal nature before later observations confirmed its cometary appearance. Comet Lemmon has a highly eccentric orbit, bringing it as close to 0.73 AU from the sun at perihelion and as far as 973 AU from the sun at aphelion. This also leads to the comet's long-period nature with an orbital period of approximately 8,000 years based on epoch 2050. The comet last reached perihelion on 24 March 2013.


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  9. "Astronomy Camp". University of Arizona SkyCenter. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
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