Mt Lemmon, just north of Tuscon, Arizona with a summit elevation of 9,159 feet (2,792 m),is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. It is located in the Coronado National Forest north of Tucson, Arizona, United States.The summit of the mountain is approximately twenty degrees cooler than the base. Therefore, large amounts of snow falls during the winter months, making it a cool escape and popular tourist attraction for Tucson and Phoenix habitants.
The Catalina Highway, also called the Mount Lemmon Highway, as well as the Hitchcock Highway (after Frank Harris Hitchcock) runs up the Santa Catalina Mountains from the east side of Tucson up to Summerhaven, at the top of Mt. Lemmon. The beautiful, curving road is a favorite drive for tourists, for locals escaping summer's heat and cyclists, and has been recently designated as the Sky Island Parkway, part of the US National Scenic Byway system. At the peak is the Mount Lemmon Observatory, which was formerly the site of a USAF radar base of the Air Defense Command, and the building that formerly housed a military emergency radar tracking station for landing the Space Shuttle at White Sands Missile Range. Although the United States military had a presence on the mountain for several decades all their facilities have been abandoned and were given to the United States Forest Service. The area and buildings that makes up the Mount Lemmon Station Observatory are leased from the Forest Service by the University of Arizona. The telescopes on the mountain are still used for astronomical research today by organizations such as the Catalina Sky Survey, and The Mount Lemmon Sky Center, The University of Arizona Astronomy Camp program, the University of Arizona, and the University of Minnesota. The educational resources at the top of the mountain make it a unique research and teaching destination.
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