Julia Vining and her husband Bob Vining walk their golden retriever Riley along a hiking trail in Bear Wallow in the Catalina Mountings outside Tucson, Ariz. on Oct. 19th, 2021.

Temperatures are cooling down in Tucson (big YAY to that, right?), but you might not be feeling the autumn vibes quite yet.

But don't worry. An hour's drive up Mount Lemmon will transport you to the fall season you never knew you needed.

The Bear Wallow area on Mount Lemmon is bursting with color right now.

Mount Lemmon is packed with yellow and orange (and a bit of red) leafy trees right now.

If you're planning a drive up the mountain to bask in the fall color (or take endless photos) in the coming days and weeks, below are our favorite places to stop. All of the stops are after the iconic Windy Point Vista. (Here's a handy mapΒ of Catalina Highway, aka the road up Mount Lemmon, if you need it.)

And if you're wondering why leaves change color in the fall season, check out this explanation from Arizona State University.

Bear Wallow

After spending Saturday on Mount Lemmon, my favorite spot by far was the Bear Wallow area. You'll see a sign for Bear Wallow Road on your right as you're heading north on Catalina Highway. Hint: It's after the Palisades Visitor Center and Mt. Bigelow.

Butterfly Trail

The area near Butterfly Road, fairly close to Bear Wallow, was also flaunting color over the weekend. Butterfly Road is on the left as you head north on Catalina Highway.


If leaf-peeping has you exhausted, head up to Summerhaven for more views of yellow-leafed trees and a bite at Sawmill Run Restaurant or the Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin.

Yellow-leafed trees can be spotted in Summerhaven.

If you happen to be craving homemade fudge, stop by the Mt. Lemmon General Store, where they're also selling the cutest desert-themed Christmas ornaments right now. Check out our guide to Mount Lemmon if you're searching for other things to do in the area.

Other spots to see leaves

On my trip up the mountain, the following spots were dotted with yellow leaves. You'll spot signs along the main road for each of these areas.

  • Cypress Picnic Area
  • Palisades Visitor Center
  • Box Elder Picnic Area

You can also spot color by simply driving up Catalina Highway. Lots of changing trees are visible from the main road, but bring a friend so your driving isn't distracted by the pretty colors.

A pile of leaves rest on the dirt along Bear Wallow Trail in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Ariz. on Oct. 19th, 2021.Β 

Some tips

Bring a jacket. Mount Lemmon's high temperatures are all over the place this week, from the mid-50s to the mid-70s.

If you want to make sure color is still bursting on Mount Lemmon before making the drive up, my favorite thing to do is search through the mountain's location tags on Instagram to see what our fellow Tucsonans' recent posts look like (some people have also tagged the Ski Valley area for fall color this year). You can also take a look at a few webcams set up in the Summerhaven area, where you can see a handful of colorful spots.

There's also a Mount Lemmon Facebook group, where community members post updates. Some people in the group have also recommended Sunset TrailΒ to see fall beauty this year.

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