Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scenic drive to Mt. Lemmon in Tucson: Along the Sky Island Scenic Byway

Overlooking Tucson from Mt. Lemmon
Schnitzel overlooking Tucson from Mt. Lemmon
Having taken the scenic drive to Saguaro National Park the day before, I was anxious to take a drive on the other side of Tucson. And what a beautiful day for a drive! See all my pictures and full review of my drive to Mt. Lemmon after the break.

After my tasty breakfast of huevos rancheros last week at Mosaic Cafe (read my full review of Mosaic Cafe here), I was ready for the scenic drive from Tucson up to Mt. Lemmon.

Sky Island Scenic Byway map
Sky Island Scenic Byway map
The drive starts right outside of Tucson, and takes about an hour and a half each way to the top of Mt. Lemmon. The drive is called the Sky Island Scenic Byway (see Arizona's visitor guide to the Sky Island Scenic Byway). The drive doesn't take you to the very top, but it gets you close and you can hike for a closer look.

Rock outcroppings on the slopes of Mt. Lemmon in Tucson
Rock outcroppings on the slopes of Mt. Lemmon in Tucson
I was amazed how quickly the climate and scenery changed from flat desert, to scrub and oak, and finally to conifer trees.

Rock formation at Mt. Lemmon in Tucson
Rock formation at Mt. Lemmon in Tucson
And the temperature dropped from the high 70s to the low 50s (on a clear day in December).

There is a small community and a ski resort at the end of the drive near the summit.

Upon my return to Tucson, I was ready for lunch at The B Line Restaurant (read my full review of The B Line Restaurant in Tucson here).

I found the maps and description for this drive from a book I received as a birthday gift from my daughter. She gave me a copy of the book National Geographic's Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways which has excellent maps and descriptions. You can read more about along with the reviews of here --

Have you taken a scenic drive lately? Where to? Let me know in the comments below.

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