• Tucson, Arizona to Mt. Lemmon Along the historic General Hitchcock Highway

      90 Miles - 5-7 hours plus hiking time

      In a short 27 miles, today's road adventure goes from the saguaros of the Sonoran desert to the high forests of the Canadian zone. Unusual land forms and hoodoos, a remarkable diversity of plant life and sweeping views of the desert appear around every bend of the road that winds its way to the upper reaches of Mt. Lemmon, a 'sky island.' Mt. Lemmon is one of a number of mountain ranges in the Southwest and northern Mexico that are isolated from each other by intervening valleys of grassland or desert and as a result have created one of the most diverse ecosystems in the U.S. This road is known by several names, the Mt. Lemmon Highway, the Catalina Highway and the General Hitchcock Highway, but its all the same highway. The turn-around spot is the tiny mountain town of Summerhaven. The real journey, however, is the spectacular views and changing scenery you'll encounter along the way.

      Here are a few highlights to look out for along the way:

      Tucson, Arizona (Starting point)
      Start your trip here with a full tank of fuel. Tucson offers a wide variety of experiences to the visitor. To learn more about the Sonoran desert, schedule another day to visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. After your trip to Mt. Lemmon, consider dining at one of our must-visit restaurants— the highly rated Café Poca Cosa located downtown. Reservations required.

      Pullouts and scenic views (Mile 20+)
      Watch for pullouts along the General Hitchcock Highway. Stop and take in views towards Tucson and later all the way to New Mexico. You'll pass picnic areas, campgrounds and hiking trailhead. You do not need a Recreation Fee Pass ($5 for the day) if you stop only at the scenic overlooks or visitor center. You will need one to hike or camp. See the Forest Service Web site for fee information.

      Palisades Visitor Center (Mile 34)
      Stop here to look at exhibits and obtain more information about the area. Restrooms are available.

      Summerhaven (Mile 41)
      This tiny hamlet is rebuilding after a fire burned much of the town. You’ll find a couple of places to get food and gifts.

      University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon Sky Center (Mile 45)
      You'll need reservations, but you can take in a night sky viewing program at the University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon Sky Center near the top of Mt. Lemmon. See their Web site for reservations and exact directions.

      Side trip to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area (Mile 73)
      On your return to Tucson, take Sabino Canyon Road north 5 miles to the entrance to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. There are a number of hikes to choose from or take the open-air shuttle to the end of the road and hike back. You can also disembark and re-board at any of the other stops to explore or take other hikes.

      The General Hitchcock or Catalina Highway winds
      and twists its way to the top of Mt. Lemmon through interesting rock
      formations and past spectacular views.