Dennis Poulin and myself drove up past the ski area in the dark to the end of the road and slept in the trailhead parking lot (in our vehicles) and with the wind blowing at 9000 feet, it was pretty dang cold, even in my zero degree sleeping bag. The hike to the top (wandered around the buildings and general area) and back took about a half hour. The road is a pretty impressive feat of engineering. Views of Tucson from that road, especially in the dark, are outstanding. We had hiked to the Pinal County highpoint on the 12th, a full day and covering 12 miles with some of our blood left on the cacti guardians. Perhaps a trip report is forthcoming to explain what I mean.
Cheated, drove to the forest service parking lot just down the road from the observatory, walked the fence to the North.
Too bad so many Arizona mountains have observatories on the tops of them =(
It's a long ways up if you start from the bottom.
The road was blocked off at the Mount Lemmon ski area, so we took the 4-mile round trip hike to the observatory on the summit. The road was lightly snowpacked and made for a quick hike.
Oh man how I miss this place where I first learned to climb. On wet days in the Alps, I often think how great it would be to wake up and get up to a dry and comfortable Windy Point or Rappel Rock before the crowd showed up. Or perhaps bushwacking into the Outback...aah! I heard they are now charging a fee to come up the Mount Lemmon highway.
It's a nice drive to the top... and lots of climbing along the way! Plus Summerhaven has the best pie in the country!!!!
I've never actually been to the summit of Mount Lemmon, but I've climbed on the countless crags, spires, fins on its slopes many times. A terrific area.