The Catalina Highway

1 Dec
2011
Posted in: Arizona, Drives
By    3 Comments

Catalina, Catalina, Catalina.  More posts about Catalina?  Enough already!  Why the obsession with this tiny range of peaks?

If it isn’t obvious already, you’ll just have to see for yourself.  And if you do get here, be sure to make the Catalina Highway one of your must-dos.

Unlike other roads, it doesn’t matter what type of vehicle you take on the Catalina Highway — be it high performance, low performance, motorcycle, or road bike (while I’m not sure why anyone would do this, it seems like a popular option).  That’s because you’re not going to be driving as much as slowly creeping from one overview to the next.


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You start in the desert, on a road that’s as straight as a pencil, but then suddenly you leap up into the mountains (Paul from a hundred feet away: “I just can’t figure out where the road is going to go from here, and I love that”).  You climb and climb, watching the cacti quickly phase out, through grasslands and rock outcroppings, until finally, at 8,000+ feet, you’re in a pine forest that looks like it belongs in Colorado.  There’s snow on the ground and the road is closed past the ski area (that’s right, ski area).  It’s 20 degrees colder up here and the air is fresh and crisp.  You hike the last mile and a half to the top of Mt. Lemmon, calves screaming the entire way.  There’s no one else around, just the hum of transmitters and cell towers (you block these out).  A hawk screams and you almost wipe out walking down one of the steep icy patches.  The hike down is much faster.

This is one of those places that makes you happy to be alive.

Catalina Highway

That's the road down there..

Windy Point

The Windy Point overlook offers some of the best opportunities for scrambling around.

Puddle

Even the puddles are special at the top of Mt. Lemmon.

Tucson

Tucson doing its best to fill the valley below. There was recently a pretty bad forest fire up here.

Paul and sundog

Paul patiently lining up a shot and a sundog I didn't realize was there.

Pre sunset

Despite being awesome, it is still winter here. The sunset starts early.

Oops

Oops...hopefully that van tumbled down there empty.

  • Barb

    Oooooooooh…One of my good gal pals is moving to Tucson next year and I’m already looking forward to the visit.  These views are amazing!

    • http://www.pauldavidolson.com/blog/ Paul David Olson

      Tucson ain’t a bad town.

  • Camack53

    Great pictures.