Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2021 and updated on Jan. 9, 2024.
Tucson might not be a winter wonderland, but we’re only a short drive away from one.
As you drive along Catalina Highway, the road up Mount Lemmon, the saguaros will begin to disappear and the mountains become lined with tall pine trees. The sight is even prettier when dusted in snow.
The trip up to Summerhaven, a small community of shops and eateries, is less than 90 minutes of a drive from Tucson’s downtown area.
Here are some quick tips and info if you’re planning to visit Mount Lemmon for a snow day:
- The Pima County Sheriff’s Department may close the road due to winter weather. To make sure the road is open before you leave home, call 520-351-3351. There are sometimes requirements in place, such as chains or four-wheel drive.
- If you’re looking to head up the mountain on a snow day, be aware that there can be a line of other Tucsonans along Catalina Highway looking to do the same. The mountain can fill up fast, so you might have to wait in a line of cars before you actually get up the mountain.
- Want a small preview of what the mountain looks like before you get up there? Check out these live cams. You can also check out Mount Lemmon businesses, like Mt. Lemmon Hotel, on social media for updates.
- If you spot closure signs anywhere, pay attention to them and don’t cross into closed areas. Also, when getting ready to play, scout the area — avoid spots near roads or with rocks, trees and other hazardous obstructions. The snow might not be as deep as you think!
- If the mountain gets enough snow, skiing may be an option in Ski Valley. You can check the conditions for skiing at skithelemmon.com.
- There are also skiing and snowboarding lessons, and those without the proper equipment can rent it from Ski Valley (and there’s a gift shop with cozy apparel if you need it).
- If you haven’t been to Summerhaven in a few years, the area will look different. Summerhaven is now home to Mt. Lemmon Hotel and Mt. Lemmon Lodge. There's a new coffee shop too!
- Hungry? Mount Lemmon is home to restaurants including Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin, Iron Door Restaurant and Sawmill Run Restaurant. There's also a Beyond Bread cafe inside Mt. Lemmon Lodge.
- Need snacks, supplies or snow gear? Visit the Mt. Lemmon General Store. They also have fresh fudge! Sky Island Trade Co. also has gifts and apparel.
- Pick up your trash! Find a trash can or dumpster, or take your trash with you when you leave the mountain.