Mount Lemmon
Tucson, Arizona
47 miles | 5,300 ft elevation
Mount Lemmon, located in Tucson, Arizona, is one of the most scenic highways in North America. This 25-mile ascent takes you from the Sonoran Desert up into the high forests and the views along the way are breathtaking. This popular winter training ride is a must-do for any cyclists that loves an incredible climb!
Starting from the Le Buzz Caffe / Safeway shopping center (located on the corner of E Tanque Verde Rd and Catalina Hwy), you’ll begin with a 4-mile warm up as you make your way towards the beginning of the climb. As you start your trek up, you’ll find yourself surrounded by saguaro cacti with your first scenic overlook, Babad Do'ag, approaching around mile 7. Soon after that, you’ll notice a change in scenery as you say goodbye to the cacti and hello to a rockier landscape.
After passing Thimble Peak Vista about 13 miles in, the rockscapes will become more dramatic and around mile 16.5 you will round the switchback and begin the 2-miles up to Windy Point. During this stretch, you’ll notice a slight increase in the grade so be sure to stop at the overlook to take a break and admire the fantastic view.
Although many people choose to turn around at this point, it is well worth continuing on because the next mile and a half is the most spectacular part of the entire climb (in my opinion). As you make your way toward Hoodoo Vista, look to your right to admire the city way in the distance and road below from where you just rode. 
About 20 miles in, you’ll notice a change in terrain once again. You will leave the rock sculptures behind and continue climbing into the high forest. For the next 4 miles, you’ll wind your way through the trees and you might even see snow (depending on the time of year) until you reach the Palisades Visitor Center. At this point you will have climbed over 5,000 feet (just shy of the 8,000 foot elevation marker) over 24 miles.
You can turn around here or continue on for another 5 miles until you reach the town of Summerhaven (and you can add another few miles if you want to continue up to the ski run and the observatory.)
Then it’s time for the long, fun ride back to the bottom! The road is in decent shape and with an average grade of 5% you can really enjoy descending all the way down (but be aware of cars wanting to pass). The air may be crisp during the first part of the descent, but you’ll feel the warmer air before you know it and the cactus trees will be welcoming you back to where you started.
Hotel Recommendation
Loews Ventana Canyon - nestled in the Catalina Mountains, this resort has everything you need to rest up between epic ride days. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and many rooms offer balconies with a view. There are multiple restaurants on site, which is convenient and the food & drinks were delicious. The pool is large and the hot tub and plunge pool are perfect for some post-ride recovery. The grounds are beautiful, with some short hiking options from the property, and there are plenty of indoor and outdoor lounge areas to gather.

There is no water on the way up until the Palisades Visitor Center (and only when the visitor center is open), so plan accordingly, especially if the weather will be warm.
The descent can be very cold, so come prepared with layers and long finger gloves.
If you try to park closer to the bottom of the climb, read signs carefully as many places along the road do not allow parking.
Mt Lemmon is a popular tourist attraction, so be prepared to be riding with cars. Wearing a mirror on the descent down comes in handy to know when to move over and allow vehicles to pass. aims to provide content that is true and accurate as of the date of writing; however, the accuracy and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. and its associates are in no way liable for personal injury, loss or damage to personal property, or any other such situation that should occur to individuals following the guides, routes and recommendations. Please review the full Terms & Disclaimer.
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