National Scenic Byway to Coolness … Then a Storm!

While the heat dome hovers over much of the USA, I too am tired of the excessive heat. My solution: drive 25 miles up Mount Lemmon here in southern Arizona. I’ll take any spot along the scenic byway to relax below the mountain’s 9100 foot elevation. Most often I drive about 20 miles to 8,000 feet where it is always at least 20 degrees cooler than where my home is located. 

The road to Mount Lemmon is a National Scenic Byway. It is one of three National Scenic Byways in Arizona. The other two are Kaibab Plateau – North Rim and the Coronado Trail. As of January 2021, there are 184 National Scenic Byways in all USA states, except Hawaii and Texas.

Here are some views enjoyed as one drives up the mountain:

On the road up the mountain.
No rock climbers today.

I have a “patch” of land where I stop and check to see if any birds are in the area. Last time I stopped I had a few birds, this time no birds in the neighborhood.

My “patch”

Summerhaven …

The very end of the road is where the ski area is, but most people stop short of those last 2 miles to visit the shops in the town of Summerhaven. Through the last few years of my visits here the town has really become congested. The one main road is through town and ends at the trailhead in the Marshall Gulch area. 

You may have heard about the horrible human-caused wildfire burning for about a month here in 2003. It started June 17, 2003 and 340 homes were burnt in Summerhaven. More recently, residents were evacuated when concerns about a lightning-strike-caused Bighorn wildfire could possibly affect homes in Summerhaven. That wildfire burned from June 5 – July 23, 2020. Residents returned after being evacuated from their town which fortunately had no major damage. Even now 3 years later, when hiking just outside of town, you’ll see burnt areas. Rain still brings debris onto the scenic byway.

Here are some photos of the newly built hotel and cabins in Summerhaven:

Cabins next to hotel.

Heading down the mountain …

Driving down the highway, I saw dark clouds ahead plus saw some raindrops. I also saw some folks sitting out on a rock ledge. Not the best place to be when a storm is coming!

Look other direction and see dark clouds.
Dark clouds!
Driving into the storm to get home.

So on really hot days, when leaving 109 degrees at my home and arriving at 83 degrees on the mountain, I am happy to have this “escape the heat” plan! Others find their way up the mountain too as they get away from the stifling heat. Do take care when you are in such heat; stay hydrated, find a cool and safe place to be when you are in high heat!

I drove through a major storm for about a mile on the highway and when I returned home a short time later we had the thunderstorm overhead us! Rain, 50 mph wind, half inch hail and we lost our electricity for 5 hours! No major damage done to our property, so we were fortunate. A good time to be reminded, nature rules!

Rainbow as we looked out our window!